Ah the glitz and glamour of a red carpet premiere. There’s nothing quite like it – to grab a front row spot and the chance to see and meet your favourite stars up close, to nab pictures and (if you’re lucky) autographs, and to become part of the magical world of Hollywood, if only for one brief evening.
Here are some memories of the more recent red carpet premieres I have been lucky enough to attend up close and personal. Click below to jump to a premiere...
Saving Mr Banks
20th October 2013 | Leicester Square, London
It’s a cold wet afternoon but I pop down to Leicester Square to catch the premiere of Saving Mr. Banks which is closing the summer’s BFI London Film Festival. The film tells the true story of how Walt Disney (Hanks) brought PL Travers’ (Thompson) book Mary Poppins to the big screen. Tom Hanks and co are in town, and although I’ve heard Hanks is not the most sociable of Hollywood stars when it comes to his fans, it’s still a great opportunity to meet his co-star, the hugely underrated Colin Farrell.
I find my usual sweet spot at the front, and the evening finally kicks off. The stars and other celebrities begin to arrive – Ruth Wilson, Colin Farrell, Emma Thompson (accompanied by lookalike daughter Gaia), Mark Strong (no film premiere is complete without an appearance from Mr Strong!), singer Lily Allen, and of course Mr Hanks.
When I meet Colin Farrell, we exchange pleasantries and he happily signs my Miami Vice cover. He bids me goodbye with a nod of his head and a “Good to meet you, cheers man” and I’m happy! But wait, he’s stolen my pen! He signs a couple of pictures for some other geeks before realising and returns back to me, “I think this is yours, man.” Bloody Irish!
Tom Hanks is keeping warm with a mug of coffee, and he gives the crowd of geeks the odd wave and smile but is reluctant to come over for any meet and greets. Ah well.
Another premiere done, and onto the next...
The Wolf of Wall Street
9th January 2014 | Leicester Square, London
When Leonardo DiCaprio comes to town, you sure do know about it! I last came face to face with the superstar back in 1998 when he was but a mere youngling fresh off the swashbuckling blockbuster The Man In The Iron Mask. And things haven’t changed. It’s early afternoon on a cold January morning and things are decidedly quiet in Leicester Square, but give it a few hours and the heart of Theatreland will be transformed into a hive of screaming geeks (mostly female!) trying to catch a glimpse (and a touch, no doubt) of the hottest talent working in Hollywood today. As usual, I plant myself on the front barrier to guarantee a front row view of the evening’s proceedings.
When the magic hour comes the celebrities start to arrive. Ex-Neighbours star and future Harley Quinn Margot Robbie arrives wearing an eye catching red dress. She greets the geeks and signs autographs.
A nervous looking Jonah Hill follows, clearly looking slightly uncomfortable at being the focal point at such a big event. More celebrities grace the red carpet, including Mark Strong (of course!), street magician Dynamo, the late Peaches Geldof (who would ultimately die of a heroin overdose only three months after this event), and business wolf Karren Brady.
And then the screaming starts which can mean only one thing: Leonardo DiCaprio. The place goes bananas as he tries to meet as many geeks as he can without getting totally swamped. He spots me with my Blood Diamond cover and comes over, saying “Can I get that one for you?” He scribbles his autograph. “Cheers” I reply and he nods in appreciation. "No problem." Give that man an Oscar already!
11th February 2014 | Leicester Square, London
The Monuments Men red carpet premiere was a classic case of the fanfare being far better than the actual film itself! Boasting a huge list of stars to attend, I make sure I arrive in good time to secure my place in a prime location.
After watching the workmen prepare the red carpet and position the lights, everything is finally ready for the talent to arrive. First up is funny man John Goodman. He approaches the geeks to sign autographs, and all is going well until some idiot almost clatters him in his face with their camera. He snaps his head back and snarls “How about you get that fucking camera out of my face you fucking prick!” and gives the culprit a sinister grin. Ouch, being told off by Fred Flintstone has gotta hurt!
A load of obligatory British C-list celebs arrive in waves, I have no idea who most of them are –Little Miss X-Factor here, Mr Big Brother there, Mr and Mrs Soap Actor everywhere. Amongst them though, is Jennifer Aniston’s ex Tate Donavan who politely stops for a few scribbles.
Bill Murray is also wandering around somewhere in a hat, apparently mingling with as many females as possible, so my chances of meeting him are very slight. Frenchman Jean Dujardin is in a more sociable mood, and he passes by happily signing for geeks as he goes. Time for Matt Damon. He’s a surprisingly tall dude, and very humble. He poses for selfies with some geeks before signing my Bourne Ultimatum cover.
Then Mr Hollywood himself George Clooney arrives. He first works his way down the line of journalists before being whisked away to the main stage. “I’ll come back” he shouts at the geeks in my area, and lo and behold he does. He signs a few autographs for a few lucky geeks – me included! – and then disappears into the cinema. Happy days!
Time for one last premiere...
Edge of Tomorrow
28th May 2014 | BFI IMAX, Waterloo, London
Okay this is a weird one. The start time for this premiere is listed as 7am. Surely that’s a misprint. 7am?? Yep, 7am it is. Tom Cruise and co have planned something quite special. It’s a race against the clock as they attend three premieres in three countries in one day, kicking it off in London before moving on to Paris, then flying across the pond to New York. Something to do with re-creating the film’s time-loop plot with red carpet premieres. Or something. Wowzers, 7am then. I arrive pre-dawn in a deserted London. The River Thames is calm and the London Eye is lit up.
I find a half-decent spot outside the IMAX in Waterloo, and as the sun comes up the stars arrive. We have Emily Blunt, director Doug Liman, various cast members of the film’s J Squad, and special guests including Guy Ritchie and Tom Hardy (I miss every one of them – this circular IMAX layout sucks, I’ll stick to Leicester Square in future!). Everything is a bit rushed due to the time frame, but when Tom Cruise arrives, he tries his best to meet as many of the geeks who’ve gathered in the early hours of the morning as he can. He signs a cool The Last Samurai poster I have before he is whisked off to his private jet headed for Paris for their 9am premiere. He’ll be back again soon being the red carpet fiend he is...
So that’s it, four red carpet premiere catch-ups done. But I’m sure there’ll be plenty more to come in the future so keep watching this space!