Monday, July 09, 2007

My First Red Carpet

Yesterday, hundreds of Harry Potter fans, both casual and obsessive, gathered at the Chinese Grauman's Theatre hoping to catch a glimpse of the young stars of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." I was one of them. Sort of.

My sister had read that the US premiere of the fifth Harry Potter film would be in Los Angeles this year and she wanted to go in the hopes of meeting Rupert Grint. I'm a Harry Potter fan as well, and would enjoy seeing Alan Rickman or Gary Oldman up close, but not enough to deal with all the psychotic fans. So we debated whether it would be worth it, ultimately deciding that it would be too crazy and many fans would probably camp out overnight, which I was not about to do. But the morning of the premiere, we decided to go check it out at the last minute. She had to at least try to meet Rupert Grint and I figured I would have something to write about after. We arrived at around 10 a.m. and there was already a huge line. I was expecting that everyone would just find a spot along the red carpet so was confused about what the line was for. I asked an unfriendly security guard who would only give vague responses, but what I took from the conversation was that the line was for the bleachers and standing room on the side of the red carpet and the only way to see anything was to stand in line and wait. Those in the front of the line had, sure enough, waited overnight. We made our way to the back of the line, behind 500 or so people, and waited in the sun for a few hours, not even knowing whether we would get in. At first it was fun to see how many people were dressed up and to read the crazy signs like "Marry me, Daniel." Plus, it's nice how everybody starts to mingle and discuss topics such as how miscast Sir Michael Gambon is as Dumbledore and how we miss Richard Harris. After spotting a young man wearing a Wicked cap, my sister and I started discussing the probability of a Harry Potter musical and thinking of possible songs.

Eventually, the line started moving slowly. Every ten or twenty minutes, we would move up a few feet. The bleachers seats were long gone by the time we got to the front, but we did get a standing spot. The first row was completely full, predictably, by the time we got there, but we stood next to this nice woman from Wisconsin and her daughter. She let us go in front of her because of our height, but there were still tall people in front of us. We decided to take our chances with that spot because it was right across from the red carpet. It was only 1 or 1:30 so we still had a good two hours before anyone was scheduled to show up. A woman with a very small child was also in front of us and her daughter couldn't take the heat, so we told her we'd save her spot. At this point everyone was still fairly kind to each other and just seemed happy to be there. The woman and her daughter eventually came back so there was more shifting around and there was a good spot next to them in the second row, so I told my sister to take it. Some of the people around us had arrived at 7 a.m., so it was comforting to know that even if we showed up earlier, it wouldn't have made too much of a difference. I couldn't see a thing from where I was, but I didn't really care at that point. Probably around 2 or 3 p.m., I would hear screams every five minutes, but it always turned out to be a camerman shooting for some local news station (or so I was told, I couldn't really see to confirm this). Also the guy who created Mugglenet was running around, handing out stickers and filming. At around 3:30, the Harry Potter music started playing and the fans were really going crazy. This is about when everyone who had been so friendly before started to turn on each other. Why is it that events like this always bring out both the best and worst in people? This one family from Chicago was the worst. The parents seemed more into it than the daughter. The dad, who was huge, had no regard for the children behind him and was pushing to get closer and closer. You'd think he would go to the back since he'd be able to see from anywhere. Then he had the nerve to yell at others for pushing, including an 8-year-old girl. He also yelled at a girl for hitting his daughter with her hair (which I'm sure was an accident), when his wife had been doing that to me the whole time. I don't mean to sound spiteful, but I'm just amazed at how many adults were acting like children just to meet some teenage actors.

So the first star to show up was Rupert Grint at about 4:00. People were yelling something about Cho Chang before that, but I'm not sure if she was really there. Rupert Grint came up right to where we were. And there were a few moments when I could spot his ginger hair, but my sister got a great look at him, and although he stopped doing autographs by the time he got to her, she yelled "Weasley is my king," and he waved at her or at least in her direction. She got what she wanted, to see Rupert Grint up close, so that made it worth it. Next was Emma Watson who also came up to where we were. I saw her face for about a second, but couldn't really see her outfit. Again my sister got a good look. She was wearing a white dress. And then, nobody came for a long time. I was getting reports of actors on the red carpet who didn't go up to the fans, but these were Disney Channel stars and someone from "Heroes" and Melissa Joan Hart. Pretty weak for a movie of this magnitude. I was ready to leave, but I figured maybe Dan Radcliffe would come and everyone would leave and then if anyone else came after we could have a better look. Rupert Grint hadn't gone inside yet and I didn't want my sister to miss an opportunity for an autograph in case he came back. We waited for so long anyway, so I figured we might as well stick around. At one point, my sister shouted that the actor who played Cedric in the fourth film was there (I'm not sure why, he's not even in the fifth), so that was another highlight for her. Daniel did not show up until about 5:00 and he did not approach the fans at all. I was told this because I did not see him at all.

And then it was all over. The actors went in. I'm not sure if anybody else from the film was there, but if so, nobody on my side saw them. I almost feel like I wasn't there (I don't even have pictures, I brought a camera, but I figured it would be futile to even try), but although I was sunburnt, thirsty, and ready to faint, I'm glad I went. I know what to expect for future premieres (not that I would ever go to a premiere again without a press pass), I didn't have to camp out or wake up at a ridicuously early hour, and my sister still left happy.


Pam said...

Nice post, Linda! You really captured the strange excitement swirling around the whole Harry Potter franchise.

I had never read the books until a few months ago. I couldn't understand the hype, and I was a little put off by the fact that there was a class in the Ex-College (coming from the Simpsons girl, that's a little hypocritical). But I wanted to read them before the last book came out, so I could be a part of the whole thing this last time. Glad I did!

James said...

My favorite part is that you not only contemplated a future Harry Potter musical, but you starting writing songs for it. Now that's my kind of crazy.

Manashi Mukherjee said...

Linda, I'm glad you got to go to the premiere. I'm sure it was fun to be inside the excitement of it all. I had to cover the third movie for CNN in London. I was so busy with the preparations for it, that I ended up not going to the premiere at all. (No worries, only a few people had press passes. I would've been stuck with the psychotic sidewalk fans.)

The whole HP thing is pretty exciting. I didn't realize how exciting till I had to wait till last Saturday to see the film. I have almost always gone with friends to the midnight showing on the first night!!!

By the way, Cedric was actually in the 5th movie, in various flashback scenes. :)