|Hobbit World Premiere Report 2012|
by YA, March 2013
Following on from my Hobbit location report in May 2012, I thought you might like to share some of my encounters on what was my second trip to New Zealand in 2012 to attend the Hobbit Premiere, and continue my adventures into the South Island of this beautiful country.
My lovely daughter joined me this time as she knows my RA madness and is already embarrassed by anything Mum does and says – so no surprises! Or so I thought!
Arrival at Wellington Airport 24th November 2012- 30 hours after leaving Heathrow London via LA and Auckland.
Stepping into Wellington airport was indeed like entering Middle-earth, with even the carousel disguised as Bag End. The Check In staff had the best t-shirt caption on our many transfers: 'Let Bilbo check your Bag’ins!'
LOTR Red Carpet Party, 24th November 2012
In the evening we had tickets to the Red Carpet/LOTR party at the Amora Hotel. We had a nap to get over the flight and unfortunately slept in with only 30 minutes to get ready and get to the party. Luckily the apartment was central to all the events just off Courtney Place.
As a true Brit I looked for the queue which would signify the bar and stood behind only to be puzzled it wasn’t really moving and no one was getting a drink. I then moved closer only to realise it was actually Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood I’d been queuing for, as they happily chatted to fans, took photo opportunities, etc. My daughter had her photo taken with Peter whilst I headed for the real bar.
As I headed back to find her I was beckoned over by Mr Jackson’s bodyguard 'me oh no I don’t want a picture' (bit photo phobic) so I had a chat instead thanking him for his excellent choice in Richard Armitage. He laughed saying 'no problem'. I then mockingly scolded him for being out late and hoping that the film was finished. He assured me it was - but only just. We shook hands had a bit of a peck on the cheek. Shortly afterwards he and Elijah left.
Lots of the other dwarves were at the event enjoying mixing with the fans. Some of the fans were in fantastic costumes: of particular note the barrel and the tree! Daughter had fun getting pictures with all she could find, including Bombur, Richard Taylor (Weta), Andy Serkis, and Jed Brophy, who was good as the MC and in a jolly mood. I did have my picture taken with him.
Daughter with Peter Jackson, Stephen Hunter, Jed Brophy and Richard's scale stunt double Mark Atkin
Andy Serkis, Stephen Hunter and Jed Brophy
I chatted to Mark Atkin (Richard's scale double). Mark gave us some snippets about the work on the film and on being RA’s scale double. He had nothing but praise for Richard and his work ethic, stating Richard works hard, is a good solid northern lad and know exactly how he wants his stand-in to do things, and he was generous with his time.
Mark was clearly enjoying the attention he was getting from RA fans but admitted to me he didn’t have a clue who Richard was until he googled him and asked his Mum, who is he? Mum definitely knew!
Night before Premiere day, 27th November 2012
After having a wander around the craft and artisan market, we spent some time watching all the efforts it took to get the setting and barriers and the red carpet ready, and many hardcore LOTR fans were setting up camp in the best positions. We had a good wander around the Embassy Theatre, beautifully renovated in the art deco style. We had a drink in the bar and then wandered back up Courtney Place. There was a lot of activity in getting the Bag End stage ready and the trolls in place, and there was a hive of activity all night as hundreds of workers transformed the route for the Premiere.
Inside the Embassy Theatre
Weta Artisan Craft Market
Day of the Premiere, 28th November 2012
Daughter felt sorry for her dear old Mum and agreed to stake out a good spot. The thought of a complete day spent waiting for the event to start sent me into panic mode. The weather was glorious, hot and cloudless. I wandered down mid-morning to see the stake out place near the Embassy and she had made some lovely friends: Australian, American and a local Wellingtonian who was a very impressive artist.
As they had it sorted I went for a walk and said hello to some of the Armitage Army with their special 'Armitage Army Needs You' t-shirts. I also bumped into Mark again who was in fine form enjoying basking in the RA effect having a chat with all those he met at the party.
Before describing the big RA meeting I need to paint the scene for those who have never been to a premiere before, especially one of this magnitude like me. It’s not for the faint hearted. Even having a place at the front of the barrier the number of people now lining the streets were roughly 10 deep, so moving from your spot or even keeping your balance was challenging.
Star spotting could only be done as they were nearly upon you. Due to the press of the crowd and length of the carpet from the Reading Theatre to the Embassy, the stars really had to work hard and they moved quicker as they approached the end. James Nesbitt flew down past everyone and I heard Aidan Turner did likewise. Others were more relaxed and confident with the crowds stopping to chat. Andy Serkis did a running high five down our side of the carpet.
I was so eager to seek out our man! Would I miss him after all this effort? I spotted him directly across on the other side, working his way along; his height really helps us little people. It had to be now or never but how would I get his attention? I’m small and easily missed with no RA banner, t-shirt or anything to draw him in! My rational head screamed you are a middle-aged professional woman, my irrational inner RA fan squeed it’s now or never! I had asked my young new friends and daughter to help me and only my daughter knew who he was.
Bless them they came through - shouting for him to come over to us. I then summoned up courage and used my only asset: I have a distinctive North West accent that would hopefully resonate with him and spark his interest. Sure enough he turned, smiled and headed over to us. He asked where were we from in the North to which my daughter and me said, in unison, Manchester (we actually live in Bath and she has a South West accent). Richard then proceeded to give his best mock imitation of me using a broader accent to say Man-ches-toh.
He left me slightly speechless as he signed his name, laughed and moved on. Had I been quicker I would have congratulated him on his vocal accent talents.
Ladies, as those of you who have met the chappie will confirm he is every bit as tall, dark, handsome and strikingly gorgeous and even whilst being mocked it sounded quite charming. He must have been exhausted and a bit daunted at all the stopping, chatting and signing, but he didn’t show it and treated everyone I could see close by with the same good humour. Even if he was a bit on the cheeky side to me I could forgive him anything. He had a lovely deep cerise tie on which matched my dress and my face by the time I’d got over the very brief encounter.
I had to leave the daughter to take photos and she struggled to take many, but I forgave her as she was a star in making my dream come true. The best comment came from the young friends she had made: the Australian turned to me and said 'you're right he is absolutely gorgeous'. I rest my case!
If all the excitement on the ground wasn’t enough there was the fly past at 5.30pm of the Air New Zealand Hobbit plane with a striking 'Thorin' at the cockpit end. The aircraft flew very low over us but it all happened in a split second so we didn’t get a photo. However it was not the last we had seen of this special plane…
South Island Tour
Our trip included a trip to the South Island and without giving too much away we had a guided tour with a great operator who is just about to launch Hobbit location tours of the South Island. They took us to a location not made public and still under embargo. That’s all I can say!
Photos are mine - Thorin & Co. courtesy of RichardArmitageNet
We were lucky enough to get to fly on the special Hobbit plane all the way back to Heathrow, but we only got to have a good look at it at LAX when the crew changed. We took some pictures which were not so good as the light was fading, but I just had to get one of Thorin.
Would I do this again? Probably not, although I’m thrilled I got to experience an event for the first film in the trilogy and NZ has become my favourite place in the world to visit. The 'red carpet' vigil is not for the fickle or those with a phobia of crowds, which I have. But to see Richard during this big event in his life was worth it and the memories will linger of that brief encounter of a northern kind!
I hope you enjoyed my little tale of an anonymous northern lady meeting a soon to be very famous northern lad – who is every bit a gorgeous in the flesh and just as cheeky!
Many thanks to YA for sharing. Larger versions of the photos of Richard and other candid premiere pictures are in the Candids Gallery - Hobbit Premieres 2012.