Weirdly enough, I have had more luck meeting/seeing famous people while travelling rather than in my own
city country. Being in India, where movie stars are often treated as Gods, means that whenever one is about to make a public appearance, you are guaranteed that there will be massive crowds, which for me is a big turn off. Now I have had the occasional brush with a celebrity at parties, but I’m not one to socialise often, and so this is a once in a blue moon occurrence.
On the other hand, I’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to meeting famous people while travelling, especially in Birmingham, UK. One may pass a celebrity on the streets of London quite regularly, it’s not often that you get to interact with them a little up close and on a more personal level. Because I used to blog about films earlier, I thankfully have a few contacts – yes, even I have contacts – because of whom, over time, I got to attend film premieres in the city and the following two stand out;
Birmingham played host to the premiere of Steven Knight’s film Locke starring the talented Tom Hardy on 16th December 2014. I, along with my good friend Chris Byrne (@Cinematronix), was privileged enough to get last minute tickets thanks to the wonderful Jo Lumani (@JoLumani) and Lisa Smith (@preparedpr).
This wasn’t my first premiere, so the craziness of the fans shouting and lining up on both sides of the red carpet didn’t come across as much of a surprise. Moreover, the event was a subtle affair, brilliantly managed, that placed focus primarily on the film, but not without the glamour that every premiere should rightfully have.
In attendance was Steven Knight, the director of the film, and of course the one person that had crowds lining up for hours, Tom Hardy. Hardy gives a powerful performance playing Ian Locke in this underrated gem of a film.
Obviously, Chris and I got to walk the red carpet, and while we had all eyes set on us, there was sadly no cheering or autograph taking.
Inside, each seat came equipped with popcorn, a pack of Maltesers – I love the British – and water. The film was initially introduced by the producer, director, and the actor, in brief, leaving the audience to view it without any preconceived notions. In the film, Tom Hardy, a typical construction manager is faced with the toughest decisions of his life as he takes a life-changing drive that lasts an hour and a half.
Following the film, Steven Knight and Tom Hardy sat down for a question and answer session that provided insight into their thinking behind the making of the film. I must admit that hearing more about the origins of the story and what the people making it had in mind, not to mention the technical aspects behind the production, definitely makes one appreciate the movie more.
Locke released to critical acclaim, if not commercial, and is highly recommended if you enjoy character-driven pieces that throw out other diversions to focus primarily on human emotion.
Now, much before I got to attend the premiere of Locke, I had the opportunity to meet an iconic actor as part of The Lorax’s premiere.
The sun was out, and orange with a dash of yellow was the colour of the day. We’ve seen red carpets, we’ve even seen green, but the bright orange one, signifying the tone of the film, welcomed everyone at the entrance of Birmingham’s Cineworld which was hosting the premiere of the new animation, based on the ever famous Dr Seuss book. The event also happened to be the very first UK premiere of a film outside of London, which meant bigger crowds and a lot of excitement in the air mixed with entertainment on the ground.
The event was beautifully organised with gracious hosts and a sense of joy and laughter all around. A Lorax character danced and mingled with children and adults alike on the carpet along with balloon makers and face painters doing the rounds on the sides.
My sources inside the theatre, wife and daughter, informed me the ambience was that of fun and frolic with cupcakes, candy-floss, sweets, Lorax moustaches, and other goodies, in abundance to keep the young and the young-at-heart pleasantly satisfied.
Emile Heskey, Danielle Lloyd, members of the American Olympic Team, and Joe Egan were among the celebrities who walked down the orange carpet. Joe Egan, who has acted in the Sherlock Holmes films with a part in the Indian film Ra.One epitomises the “big lovable” character especially when he said one of his dreams was to walk down the red carpet with his mum. Called “the toughest white man on the planet” by Mike Tyson he modestly talked about how he’s enjoying and loving, slowly but surely, rising up in the entertainment business making a name and mark for himself. He can be seen next in the film Crying Wolf.
As expected, the arrival of Danny DeVito – iconic enough for ya? – was greeted with unanimous cheering from all the fans present around the carpet.
A legendary actor, he met with his fans and members of the press with the same kind of excitement and enthusiasm only a newcomer promoting his first movie has.
Visiting Birmingham for the first time, he was quick to point out that the much-needed sunshine probably had something to do with the “Lorax” being in town.
Crediting the entire team of the movie including producers, writers, and animators, he spoke about doing the voice-over for the film in Russian, German, Spanish, and Italian himself. On stage, he emphasised the message behind Lorax that how it is essential that “if you see somebody abusing something, stop ’em”.
While my wife and daughter enjoyed the movie that day – we only had two passes – I waited outside till Mr DeVito was leaving and managed to get a few close photos of him with an added quick chat.
A lesson I’ve learnt with regards to travelling is to follow local events and people of the country you are in, as they are the best source of information that otherwise outsiders would not be privy too. It was only because of that that I found out about the premieres and was able to enjoy meeting a couple of Hollywood biggies, which in all honesty I don’t see happening often.
Now, have you ever had a similar experience while travelling? Ever “bumped” into a celebrity or visited an event and came across one? Do tell…