When Ross Marquand comes to Denver Comic Con over Father’s Day weekend, he could potentially be an entire Celebrity Summit all by himself. His spot-on impressions of stars like Jack Nicholson (Batman), John C. Reilly (Guardians of the Galaxy), Patrick Warburton (The Tick), Christian Bale (The Dark Knight), Ewan McGregor (the Star Wars prequels) or Harrison Ford (if you need his credits list, you’re reading the wrong article) would more than fill up a roster of major fan-favorite personalities at DCC. Marquand can do them all (and more), but even his notable impressions necessarily have to draw the line at providing someone else’s autographs.
But Marquand is more than just an impressive impressionist; he's also a sought-after actor, most famous for his role as Aaron on The Walking Dead, or his surprise turn in this summer’s Avengers: Infinity War. And here in Denver, you might just know him as that dude you went to school with. Because Ross Marquand is a Colorado boy. Marquand agreed to talk with Westword about his work, his memories of growing up here in colorful Colorado, and his plans for fans at the convention. Welcome home, Ross Marquand. Good to have you back, even if it’s just for Comic Con.
Westword: Given that you're a Colorado native — grew up in Fort Collins, went to CU Boulder, the whole Mile High enchilada — when you come home, what's on your must-see list? What does coming home mean to you?
Ross Marquand: Oh, man, so many places come to mind...Casa Bonita, Beau Jo's, Illegal Pete's, Larimer Square...Paris on the Platte. Although I must admit, I've been gone so long that I'm not sure if all those places are still open. [Note: The much-missed Paris on the Platte closed in 2015.] Colorado will always be home for me; it's more or less a perfect state to live in. I never would have left if there were more filming opportunities there!
You'll be appearing at Denver Comic Con in mid-June. What do you have in store for the fans while you're there? Any chance you'll be doing any of the celebrity impressions for which you've become known?
I'm so excited to do a convention in my home town, and I've wanted to do Denver Comic Con for some time! I'll be signing headshots, taking pictures and meeting with fans. And I might just throw in some impressions, too.
Speaking of celebrity impersonations — any new voices you're working on? (Your Harrison Ford is stellar, by the way. Just your facial expression alone would carry it, but you have him down, right to the wagging finger.)
Oh, thank you very much — he's one of my favorite actors to do. I'm working on some pretty obscure ones like Colin Quinn and Anthony Jeselnik at the moment. But I will never give up on my elusive white whale, Mr. Ryan Gosling. He's got such a subtle voice, and I can never seem to get it right! Praying one day it'll just click in my brain...
Most fans probably know you from your work as Aaron on The Walking Dead. What's it like being a part of such a fan-driven show?
Well, I was a fan of the show before I got on it, so I felt an immense responsibility to add something unique (and not detract) from one of my favorite programs. Sometimes it's hard to believe just how many people watch the show around the world. I got recognized in a little dive bar in Lisbon a couple months ago, and it completely blew my mind. I think the universal themes of survival, perseverance, love and death make the show easily translatable all over the globe.
Aaron is notable on The Walking Dead for a number of things at this point, but one of his initial characteristics was vital to the show, as one of the first gay male relationships — but he was more than just that, from the very beginning. What's been the response to the character and the show from the LGBTQ+ community, and how has that response changed your approach to the role?
Overall, the fan response to Aaron — and subsequent gay characters on the show — has been quite positive, and I'm so honored to play him. I've been approached by several LGBTQ+ adolescents and adults alike who have remarked that seeing more representation of characters like Aaron and Tara have helped them come out to their families. There's a strong LGBTQ+ community within the Walking Dead community that is massively supportive, and I think it's really wonderful that a show that is — at least on the surface — just about zombies actually has a far greater social impact for so many of our viewers. It's incredibly inspiring.
And your other fan-favorite recent role: Your appearance in Avengers: Infinity War was one of the blockbuster highlights of an already very blockbustery summer movie. What was that experience like? Any interest in continuing in the Marvel vein? Since you wore a lot of prosthetics as Red Skull, you could probably play a different role. Any Marvel character you'd like to play in the future?
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Oof, I'm still pinching myself over that one. I grew up reading comic books and collecting comic cards from Mile High Comics, so this was huge for me. I'm honestly still geeking out, and we shot that scene last November! I'm not sure what Marvel has in mind for the future, but I would most certainly love to play Red Skull again, especially in his current state. If that wasn't an option and I had my druthers...I'd also LOVE to play Moon Knight. As a kid, there was something so interesting about him, and as I've gotten older, revisited the storyline and found out that he may be wrestling with mental demons as well as literal ones...there's just something so captivating about a superhero who may be losing his mind.
Back to Colorado. If you could take one thing — large or small, actual or theoretical — from your home state and carry it with you wherever you go, what would it be?
Dang...don't make me choose just one thing! Well...I would love to take my family with me, but I know they love it there too much, and it'd be rude for me to take them away, so...I'm gonna have to go with the air. Quite possibly the tastiest air I've ever inhaled. I'm surprised it hasn't already been bottled up, Spaceballs-style.