Return to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Los Angeles Premiere
My drive to Hollywood was an auspicious one, being that one of the visions when approaching the event was the very beautiful image of the Gothic First Hollywood Methodist Church silhouetted by a sunset backdrop. The sky looked as if on fire.
Because I was apprehensive about actually going at first, my very first reaction when I first arrived at the Premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was surprise at the relative sparseness of fans in attendance. I was actually both relieved and a little dismayed.
For my own sake, I was relieved because I do not do well with crowds. For the sake of the filmmakers and planners of such an event, I was dismayed because crowds make a premiere appear more successful. At the time I did not realize that LA people – like me – actually really do know how it works. If you come too early, you wait around a lot. If you come too late, you miss a good spot. Like most anything, timing is everything. It was also a work/school day, so many were probably still commuting. The fact that I got lucky in that respect was probably pure kismet, or just good timing.
But later, I would find that there were indeed more people than had met my eyes at that moment.
After securing a spot or two, with one retained in absentia by persuading some kind folk to look after a much-needed chair that I appropriated from another level – for a stranger who has had two knee surgeries and simply cannot stand for what might become hours – I then wandered the complex more to enjoy seeing the people, scenery and possibly find an even better vantage point.
I walked toward the front entryway, and virtual proscenium, to the street where the Black Carpet actually makes a right-hand turn into the complex and towards the Oscar steps. On my way I was pleasantly pleased to encounter a cosplay “Bofur”, who indicated that he was making his way to his own “Thorin” and in the direction I was headed. We emerged out onto the Hollywood Boulevard section that was now transformed into the carpeted and dressed “Hollywood Hobbit Greeting” for fans, paparazzi and guest talent that were to walk the 8 foot wide ebony ribbon laid out before them.
Bofur and I were then greeted by his friends Tauriel, Legolas and, of course, Thorin, who were holding court at the barricades and on the Walk of Fame Stars beneath our feet. Naturally, I begged permission to take photographs, which they graciously allowed. Immediately thereafter, the now increasing crowds descended in such a way that let me know I had broken the ice enough to want ask and take pictures themselves.
I then walked up and down the elaborate setup that was just now filling with photographers in mid-setup in preparation for the onslaught. Their onslaught.
The Real Hollywood
I would later hear what Benedict Cumberbatch would have to say about that very bank of paparazzi, which dismayed me. I think Los Angeles press photographers are getting meaner and pushier with the years of living in this town, and I think it is beyond sad and embarrassing. Nothing is more pathetic than saying to the world “You are welcome here as long as you do exactly what I want and I get what I want from you.”
As a kinder, gentler Angelina, for the most part, I would just like to say here to people visiting Los Angeles from other countries, that as rude as people can get here – or as shallow also as they might appear to be – on the whole we are really not all of us that bad. We can greet openly occasionally, share smiles and stories, and – thank goodness – even willingly save seats for strangers. We like tourists and visitors and do not see them as a hindrance or bothersome. We really do love our guests.
The is an unfortunate reality, however, there is just no room for them to stay permanently. The town is more than full and over-flowing and that overcrowding is making people mean and bitter, especially in regards to auto traffic. As nice as the weather is here, and as pretty as some of the people and specific places might be, it really is an ugly place. We hide the ugly as much as possible, like one would sweep dust under the carpet or hastily stash away junk in the closet or beneath the bed.
The “real” Hollywood is actually not in Hollywood at all. It is in Burbank, Century City, Culver City and a smattering of other outlying areas. The traffic connecting those parts of Los Angeles, the even more cluttered downtown area, and the vast, outlying urban-suburban sprawl spanning miles outside Los Angeles proper, is beyond unnerving, unhealthy, and down-right often dangerous.
And there is truth in the fact that we never walk anywhere if we can help it and we may never get to actually know our neighbors after living next to them for years. These truths probably seems odd to the rest of the world, and sometimes to me as well, but the reasons for it are not fear or – in the case of the latter – unfriendliness. From my perspective, it has been that when a complete stranger approaches in most instances, my first thought is often that they want something from me or they want to sell me something. Those are the pitfalls of living in a sprawling, stranglingly crowded, and fast city such as this one. But there it is.
This town taints and is tainted in ways beyond the effects of mere traffic frustration, and in ways that are just too numerous to fully describe. However, when I know there are tourists or folk who nearest me, and for an event such as the Premiere, with an almost unified purpose I have a tendency to force passed my shyness and push out the graciousness within me – both the “Virgo” willingness to be of service and the person proud to welcome someone who is possibly visiting for the first time. I want visitors to have the best experience possible when here, especially when I hear they have saved all their lives and/or traveled thousands of miles just to come here. It is then that want to show them what is actually beautiful, as well as what they would most like to see. Of course, since I have not a vested financial interest in it, I could care less that they bring money or business. They do. But better still, they go home retaining the memories of a place that I call home, so I would only wish them the best experience.
Like that of Jed Brophy, I have a pride in my home town that I would want to share with a visitor. But unlike Los Angeles, Jed’s home has far more breathing room and likely better air to do so.
After I left Bofur, Thorin and friends, I made my way back into the complex, taking elevators and escalators to the upper levels to scout, sight-see and people watch. Throughout my wandering, several people asked me to take pictures of them against the Hollywood sky line, such as the one above, of which I obliged gladly. I was relieved to find that many people had gathered further and were littered throughout the upper levels of the complex. Many preferred the birds-eye views that were afforded them, looking down into the sprawl below and taking in the glittering and sparkling scenery that culminated both the Hollywood strip, skyline, and Hobbit Premiere finery.
I was beyond elated.
To the folks who watched the online streaming, and to the actors and talent who walked the black carpet and “might” see this report, there was no way you would have know about the masses above you. If you were on the carpet and looked up, you might have seen some faces from way above looking down, but that would not have given you a complete grasp of the volume of people there.
After doing my own sightseeing, I made my way back to my spots, where one was thankfully still available.
I stood with a young woman of whom I thought was a photographer, but when asked she said “No, just a fan.” She had been getting eagle-eye zoom shots down from the upper level of the receiving line. I asked who she had gotten pictures of and asked specifically about Richard. She was not sure who was who in the initial arrivals, but said that a actor pulled up in an ostentatious yellow Lamborghini. My instincts thought No, but I described Richard anyway. From my description, she thought it might be him. She further described what he wore, that he was tall, and seemed to be very “all about himself” as she put it. I just that couldn’t be. So she showed me a picture, although slightly blurry, where it was confirmed that it indeed was not Richard. But I knew who it was. The who had emerged from the yellow Lamborghini was non-other than Manu Bennett.
Waiting for Romeo
My primary vantage point was that of a second level area to the right of the entrance way, or the right-most area as seen from the Live Streaming cameras. It was almost my very own “Juliet Tower” – a common, affectionate term for a small balcony for just such purpose in most theaters – and I settled there for a long time.
When things got busy down below, I had taken images that later I would discover were quite good, along with others of course that were, well, not so good. I also discovered some that I had not realized I had indeed gotten – such as that of Dean O’Gorman and Aidan Turner, along with Stephen Fry and Orlando Bloom – the latter image being far to blurry to post, but in existence none-the-less.
When it occurred to me that my vantage point was truly not a good one, I moved as fast as I could and made my way through the thongs and towards the Oscar steps.
As luck would have it, I had positioned myself just in time to see the very person I had really come to see – the one who could either make my night, or ruin it, if indeed I had missed even the slightest glimpse of him. But I did indeed get to see him – Richard Armitage – and in a way that may not have been optimum, but still would turn out to be special, even if fleeting.
Seeing Richard at the moment almost made time stop. And it only came to be that when I had actually stopped fiddling with my #@%&ing evil contraption of a camera to observe and “be” there. I watched him ascend the steps where possibly even he, at that moment, may have realized that others of whom he also admires have had actually walked. He may have also realized that millions of fans have walked those steps with also just that very thought in mind. He may have also said his own personal prayers of hope , as I did, that someday he would walk up the those very steps again, and to an awards show that would require him to descend down them while grasping that oh-so-familiar and coveted piece of gold, naked hunk of metal that means far more than its actual monetary value to the one who earns it.
I wish this for Richard more than anything.
While I reflect on these images, I recall what I thought at the time I first glimpsed his face. To quote from my comment in a previous post:
“I had looked directly into his face at one point. No eye contact, but I saw “him” and that too is invaluable…Those of us who have now seen him probably have different takes.
I will say this…where I should have said before, he was both alike and yet different from how I have imagined. Bigger-than-life is difficult to describe about an actor’s persona and physicality when compared to their actual physical being. For instance, some images appear to me to make his head seem larger. His head is better proportioned in reality, at least from my perception.
He is slender, but because I know that images can put “weight” on people, he did not seem any slimmer than in recent images. He is still slimmer than that of North/Bateman, John Porter or Sir Guy, but not skinny.
…I don’t know where he gets that he has a mean face. I saw much boy, and a softness (not fleshy – soft.) And I can now easily see how one might not randomly recognize him on the street, as he has said in interviews. He has the everyman about him – in countenance and looks. This is the truth.”
In that moment I could only lament that the time was indeed so fleeting. My own memory retention may not be the best – and often escapes me, and disappoints others almost as much as it disappoints me – but in this respect I can honestly say I am not embellishing or creating any new memories based on images seen in print, online, or on any screen – these memories are mine and they are unusually strong. This is probably because I wish to hold onto them so desperately, and I am consciously working to be sure that none are added to by other input.
When he walked up the stairs, and I stopped my useless and wasteful fiddling, I watched him ascend and felt nothing but pride and admiration. For someone who is a complete stranger really to me – as I to him – this is possibly viewed as an odd, almost disjointed reaction to someone reading my recollection from the outside. Probably. Although I don’t care really, I am still aware, acutely, of how it must look to observe a stranger so intently.
I think I comforted to know, as he has relayed in interviews – even recently – that Richard may practiced or experienced something like this himself, over someone he admires even now or has idolized in the past.
This thought gives me comfort really, even if there is a chance that it’s not true to the same extent in which I feel my admiration for him.
When everything was done, at least as far as I was concerned for myself, I headed east with the intention to get something to eat and maybe write. Once I secured a location (I almost went to Denny’s but I decided I really just wanted to get out of Hollywood.) So I settled on a place that I was more comfortable with, and closer to my own home, with the intention to have dinner and go home to write more.
I hardly ate a thing, just having a glass of wine and a partial bowl of soup, because I write the entire time I am there – essentially closing down the place because I was committed (obsessed?) to relaying as much as possible. But still, I was forced to cut it short at least to the point where I had an ending and could post in a reasonable amount of time relative to the event, unlike this one.
If I had had both the tenacity and energy to stay, I might have eaten instead there at the Hollywood and Highland to wait out the premiere exit and sought the after party.
There’s always an after party.
This could have been in one of several places, with the more likely being The Highland, the Grand Ballroom that normally holds the Governor’s Ball/Oscar Post Party or another ballroom immediately adjacent to the theater.
But wherever the location, it was there that Twitter friend and Freelance Journalist, Leena Tailor of @koolkiwis, along with her friend Abbey, indeed ventured to seek out the premiere goers. Although she indicated that she had seen Richard at one point, it was there that was able to connect with a Middle Earth Elf, rather than a Middle Earth Dwarf this time.
As with any post I do – and this is each and every time – I never know if anyone will ever even read it, much less find anything I have to say interesting. But I go ahead post, looking forward to any comments that might come my way that might express pleasure in what I have written.
I was floored and overwhelmed at the response to my initial story. The fact that I had more to say didn’t really occur to me until after I was prompted in comments by others, which was after a comment or two posted later that contained more of my reflections and memories.
So here it is in total. There really is no more. My hope, once again, is that what memories I was able to retain, and what few synaptic connections I still have been able, might afford any remaining interest in what I have to say still and nearly almost three days after the fact.
- Seeing Richard Armitage, Against All Odds or Welcome To My Hood, Richard (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage in photos from the L.A. premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (blogs.montrealgazette.com)
- Leena Tailor of @KoolKiwis Pleases With A Tease – Richard Armitage Interview & The Book of New Zealand (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- Orlando Bloom, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Armitage & More Bring The Super Sexy To ‘The Hobbit’ Premiere (socialitelife.com)
- ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ Los Angeles Premiere, Contest and TORn Pre-Party (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” unveils full look at the dragon (panarmenian.net)