And so another fun-filled Red Carpet adventure begins! This time it’s the World Premiere of Ridley Scott’s biblical epic Exodus: Gods And Kings at the Odeon Leicester Square. Hurrah!
Upon my morning arrival at Leicester Square, it seemed the geek community had finally gotten organised (almost!) - I was greeted by a very handy numbering system, and since I was nice and early I obtained a low number on the nerd-list and was free to have a mooch around the West End for a couple of hours until the barriers opened in the afternoon.
Deciding to brave the swarms of Oxford Street tourists, my first stop was to pop into the flagship HMV where I worked once upon a time ago back in 2000. I figured I could kill some easy time navigating the confusingly labelled isles and browsing the overpriced merchandise. Fighting my way through the crowds like a duck swimming upstream through rapids, I finally made it and.... oh it’s not there anymore, it’s a Sports Direct instead! My, how the mighty have fallen.
So I did what any self-respecting geek would do – I headed straight for Forbidden Planet to look at the even-more ludicrously overpriced merchandise. A quick pit stop at the ‘golden arches’ to redeem year-old vouchers for lunch (thanks Paul!) and then back to Leicester Square at 2pm to see what’s going on.
Ooh they’ve put the barriers up and are setting up the main stage. Time to line up like cattle. Quick number check on my hand: 45, that’s looking good. And yes sneaky ladies in front of me, I can see quite clearly that the number on your hand says 268, putting gloves on won’t help you so sling yer hooks! Ladies successfully dispatched to the back of the queue, which is probably in Piccadilly Circus, the geeks are marched to the barriers like Hebrews being led to the promised land (see what I did there!).
And I’ve got a nice sweet spot at the front! Now the waiting game. A couple of hours tick by as I watch the various workers constructing the stage, laying down the red carpet, and setting up the lighting. They’ve even wheeled in the prop Egyptian pillars that were actually used in the film to decorate the place, how lovely. But best of all, they’ve lined the red carpet with outdoor flames so I’m nice and toasty as I wait.
5:30pm and everyone’s in place. The press are lined up opposite me with their cameras, Alex Zane and Jenni Falconer have done their usual skits, and the guests start to arrive. First up for me is Joel Edgerton, who plays Ramses in the film. He saunters over, gives me a quick “G’day mate” (he’s Australian) and proceeds to try and sign my Batman pic. Err.... he suddenly realises what he was about to do and apologises “Oops sorry mate” and I hand him my Star Wars trading card instead. He was probably making a mental note to himself: “Struth, Christian was Batman, I’m Uncle Owen, ya bloody galah!”
Then Ben Kingsley and Ridley Scott arrive. They walk down the red carpet. They talk to the press. They talk to Jenni Falconer on stage. Then they leave, disappearing into the cinema. Bugger. Ah well.
Then suddenly the geek standing next to me starts to get over-excited. “Is that Frank Bruno?” he asks me, pointing to one of the many tuxedo-clad men on the red carpet. He then starts to shout “Frank! FRANK! FRAAANK!” at the gentleman in question. I reluctantly inform him “It’s not Frank Bruno, it’s just a black man”, and he starts to sulk. The gentleman seems relieved. Bloody geeks, you can’t take them anywhere.
Next to make her way is Spanish actress Maria Valverde who plays Moses’ wife Zipporah. Thinking she may be a big future talent in Hollywood (although since seeing the film, I now think not) I decided that this is a perfect photo opportunity. She gladly poses for a selfie, gives a quick pout at my camera phone, and then ambles away to the press.
Then the big man himself arrives. Looking like a black-suited shaggy Jesus, Christian Bale waves and smiles and gives a chirpy interview on the main stage. When he’s finally free of film-plugging duties, he strolls to the crowd for meet-and-greets. And finally I come face to face with the Dark Knight himself! He mumbles a “hello” in what I can only describe as a vague English accent and asks me how I am. Very well thank you as it happens. He then asks my name. “Arif? Cool.” He personalises a picture of his bat-clad mug for me, then croaks “Nice to meet you Arif.” I half expect him to continue “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” Then he nearly trips over his wife’s dress which ruined his mystique somewhat. Hey, even Batman can make a faux pas!
With the evening drawing to a close, there’s a surprise arrival on the red carpet. It’s Andy Serkis! I quickly ready my camera and he happily poses with me before giving me a friendly back-slap. Then he’s off before I can quiz him on his rumoured Star Wars role.
But wait, there’s one last red carpet straggler – running at full speed with tiny little legs, at first glance could be mistaken for one of the Little Rascals but it is in fact Salma Hayek, all 2ft5 of her! She’s realised she’s arrived late and missed all of the press interviews and is desperate to get into the screening on time. Run Salma, run!
And that’s a wrap. Another premiere done. Happy with my experience, I make my way back home with my autographed pics in my grubby little hands and head back to reality. Until next time of course...