I did something I did not think I would do. I actually went to the premiere. And yes, I saw Richard Armitage.
The decision to do this was a last minute one. It occurred to me that there would probably be no other opportunity for me available in my lifetime. Really. I am a realist. I freelance and I am small time and I am late in the game in my chosen profession. I do not have the connections under my belt to gain press access in a timely manner, and my own physical (mental?) restrictions prevent me from seeking out crowds.
I hate crowds. Tonight reminded me as to just why, but to be honest, it really was not that bad. That is probably not a good thing, as far as premieres go. But I, personally, am grateful.
It was worth it.
I began my trek from the Pasadena area around 4:35 pm and made my way to Hollywood proper. The freeways were mercifully clear, with a minor jam nearest my exit off of Gower St, spilling me off the 101 freeway at 5:00 pm. At rush hour, this is exceptional good time.
I came in the back way to the Hollywood and Highland, from Franklin, passing by my once Hollywood apartment which was about 6 blocks from my “now” destination. Pausing at the light, I look up to my left, and there is a new sign on what must be the corporate headquarters for the Dolby Theatre. This all is new. Well, new to me. I then turn left from Franklin onto Highland in my very familiar old ‘hood, and headed just one block to enter directly into the 15 year old complex known as The Hollywood & Highland.
Parking ease was a good sign also. However, this still required winding down 5 levels as I went straight to the bottom-most section of the structure, securing my usual spot which most folk have yet to grasp as to how easy it really is to find. Ready and eager to go, I grabbed my gear and made my way up 5 sets of escalators, working towards the Dolby Theatre, which was located on the 2nd level of the complex. By this time it is 5:15 pm.
Men in black suits littered the entryway of the Dolby open-air pre-foyer, screening those begging entrance to the Ticket Will Call. I myself had hoped that I would have secured tickets through the Women’s Health Magazine contest, but it was no surprise really that I did not. I don’t win contests.
I quickly worked easily passed the roped and shallow barricaded black carpet that lead from the street front and up the famous red steps of Oscar fame – steps created for just that purpose.
It is about here, however, where I proceed to make what I think are good decisions, but are actually bad.
At this point, things are not too busy. People are lined at the barricades, but they are only allowing single lines, so – good girl that I am – I heed this.
It’s 5:45 and I am told by a very nice Man in Black that “things” will start at 7:00. Okay. I have time.
So, for the next hour or so I wander the area to scope out a spot. I take pictures of the entire setup, and some of glittering landscape around, so that I can share it here. I make my way to upper levels, getting “eagle” eye views and capturing those as well. I do happen to know the complex very well, as I have taken many a set of relatives and friends from out of state on mini tours. And when The Highland club opened, I organized and held my 20 year class reunion there. I went to school just down the street.
This really is my ‘hood.
So finally, I settle on a position nearest the steps up to the Dolby and secure it. It is on an upper level looking down and there is a convenient chair. Expecting my zoom feature to provide decent images of my then vantage point, I keep the position, testing out my camera and what-not, so that when the time comes I am ready.
This was bad idea #1.
Of course, all of this activity has begun to wear down my battery. But no fear, I have my power cord and I miraculously secure an outlet. I hear screams from around the corner around this time, and because they come at 5 minute intervals, I vacillate between my secured area and the outlet to hover near my furiously charging camera, hoping that nothing “happens” while this is taking place. But I get impatient often and I am constantly unplugging, checking and fiddling with the camera, and replugging in the camera over the course of a 45 minute time period.
This was bad idea #2.
As I write this I am thinking about how I am too old for this, but hey – Richard is my age-ish and he has put up with far more, so here is where I stop whining…somewhat.
I hear screams from around the corner. They die down, but fairly quickly down the carpet comes Production Designer, Dan Hennah. And I have a feeling Richard Taylor, Creatures, Effects and “Orcrist” designer, went by as well, amongst a host of other fantastic crew folk too quick and too humble to work the crowds.
Again, I hear the screams, but this time is after a black SUV pulls to the front most area, and not with the other vehicles which are not in sight, but around the corner. Out of the SUV comes Luke Evans, who goes straight and fast out of sight, which was to the last leg of the 50 yard press line-up. He was still too far away for an image.
Then, 5 minutes later, there are screams. Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), and his family, move down the carpet far too fast for any pics, stopping maybe once or twice for autographs.
Then in another 5 minutes, Philippa Boyens makes her way down. She does stop for autographs and I, of course, am not able to get decent images. She is just lovely.
I then see a large group forming and I realize that my position really won’t do. Suddenly a mass containing Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, and then someone yells “Peter.” I take some pics, but I just know that this will not do. So I move, and as quickly as I can, down the stairs and into the throngs below.
Men in Black try to keep the lineup at the barricades as “single” or as narrow as possible, and so we are constantly being moved – me and the throngs that are now getting frenzied. I am moving closer to the stairs, I recall a vantage point that might be a good one. I keep myself moving so that I don’t get told to move.
Then I hear it…several screams of “Richard!”
I turn around to find and struggle to secure as close a spot as possible. Then suddenly, he is there…right there. I aim my camera in panic and press. Nothing. I press again, and snap. No flash. I do this several times not knowing if anything is happening I just keep pressing and snapping. Then within seconds he is already up the steps, and rather quickly. I realize that I must just stop pressing the camera button because if I don’t I will not get to see much of him. So, at this point, for about 4 seconds, I just watch him walk up the “Oscar” steps. He looked good. Sharp and slender in his grey suit. But he did look like a man whose eyes had just been assaulted by camera flash for what was probably hour.
So I watched that familiar rear view, and one I have to acknowledge that I have never seen that close, from approximately 5 – 8 feet away, until he receded into the awaiting reception of the above open-air foyer to the Dolby. I then realized that I was staring and motionless and people were crazed around me.
Then it occurred why. I could hear the screams of “Aidan!”, “Dean!”, and “Orlando!”.
They traveled in a pack, I swear! This made it very difficult to actually do much of anything, but try I did.
Aidan was the best, frequently turning around while heading up the steps. But even then, I – and my camera – were not fast enough really. But he really is so very charming.
It was at this point I realized I was done.
This was probably the final bad idea of the night, since there were still many others to follow. No Martin and no Benedict – I missed them both. Live & learn.
I still feel good about this. As miserable as I felt the moment I checked my images to find that I had not shot off much at all, it occurred to me that – at the time I write this – Richard, his cast mates and the filmmakers are all in a dark theater, about 12 miles away from where I am now, enjoying a movie I will also enjoy in about 10 days, and in a place I grew up in and have watched metamorphose into what it is now – a re-imagined, premiere-worthy Hollywood.
So I now realize that I indeed accomplished something I did not even think I would try.
I saw Richard Armitage tonight.
- Richard Armitage at the Book of New Zealand Exhibit Opening (marieastra8.wordpress.com)
- Leena Tailor of @KoolKiwis Pleases With A Tease – Richard Armitage Interview & The Book of New Zealand (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ Los Angeles Premiere, Contest and TORn Pre-Party (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- Richard Armitage Interview from Cinema Fanpage – A New Translation (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- The Pervasiveness of Armitage Art: Richard Armitage as Muse to Russian Artist, SceithAilm (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)