When we announced this tour and knew we’d be in Wellington for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey World Premiere, never in my wildest thoughts did I think I’d get a chance to meet any of the cast. But. I. Did.
And not just one, but many. But before we get into that, I’d like to give a shout out to some LOTR cast members who I was able to meet before the whole red carpet chaos took place.
I happened upon Craig Gillan and Wayne Phillips on the morning of the premiere, just beside a downtown landmark called “The Tripod” across from the Embassy Theatre. I was headed that way because Middle-earth News contributing writer and head of Wellington’s official Tolkien Smial, Wellymoot, Jack, had arranged a “second breakfast” gathering there.
One of the Wellymoot members introduced me to two LOTR extras and the conversation that followed was just fascinating Craig played an Uruk-hai in the infamous Helms Deep scenes, where he endured take after take and night after night of cold rain for us fans. He can also be seen dancing on a table in the green dragon and he the dead soldier next to Eowyn as she reaches for the sword to kill The Witch King.
Wayne played the Captain of the archers at Helms Deep who let his arrow go out into the Uruk-hai crowd, thus starting the battle. He can also be seen in the scene where Aragorn and Gandalf are in the Rohan tavern discussing Frodo’s fate, the Battle of Pelennor Fields, and in the House of Healing. As it turns out, we’ll be seeing him the Laketown scenes come The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug next December. I’m told he even gets a name this time around.
Both Craig and Wayne were a delight to talk too, and it’s their hard work that made those memorable scenes for us fans to enjoy. Thanks guys!
Red Carpet time. We’d staked out our spot early on and switched off during the day to make sure we kept it, but as the time drew near for Peter Jackson to kick off the start of the red carpet festivities, masses had crowded in around us, all eager to get a look for themselves Thus the battle of the red carpet began. You really had to fight to keep your place along the gate line, but thankfully we did, and the result was what the tour group coined as, “The best day ever!!!”
First person to come our way was Neil Finn, who’d just performed “The Song of the Lonely Mountain” live on stage not long before. Didn’t get to talk, save say “Hi!”, bit I did manage to get his autograph. Steven Hunter and James Nesbitt passed by, but didn’t stop to give autographs, still I snapped a few shots. Next came none other than Richard Armitage. Ladies, not only did I get his photo and autograph, but I actually had a conversation. I repeat, I talked with Richard Armitage. And no, I didn’t faint.
Elijah was next, but I was heartbroken as his agent directed him to the other side of the carpet two people before me. I was that close. Got some good photos, though. I was still on a high after meeting Richard, when none other than Peter Jackson himself, came down the line. Before I knew it, he was in front of me asking how I was enjoying the day. I think I said something like, “You’re amazing, thanks for all you do!” but I’m not quite sure. My head hadn’t rapped around the fact that PJ was indeed talking to me. Whatever I said, he responded, thanked me, signed my notebook, and then moved on.
There wasn’t time to let that sink in, as Martin Freeman came into view soon after. Again, I had a brief few moments to chat with him. He was awesome. Got his autograph too. Then Aidan Tuner showed up. Yes, ladies. I actually met Richard Armitage and Aidan Turner all in one day and managed to stay standing. Autograph and small chat achieved.
Also met Peter Hambleton and got his autograph. The other cast members that came down the line either didn’t stop for autographs or went down the opposite side of me. After five hours of standing and fighting for my space along the red carpet, the crowds began thinning and soon no one stood behind me. Our group had just begun discussing where we’d like to eat when we heard cheers go up along the carpet’s sides. Who showed up but John Rhys Davies and Evangeline Lilly!
We did all we could to call John over, but he stayed on the other side. However, Evangeline Lilly did make to our side and none only was a able to get an autograph but I was also able to get a photo with her! She was lovely, and we were all very impressed to see how committed she was to stay out in the windy day signing autographs and taking photos with her fans. Thanks Evangeline!
After all that, I was exhausted. Extremely happy, but also exhausted. Our group ate dinner and then I promptly when to my hotel, edited photos, and went to bed, because the next morning we were headed to the South Island via the Cook Strait Ferry, leaving bright and early.
However, some of our group decided to try their luck and go back to the carpet and wait for the stars to leave the Embassy. They struck gold. Tour member, Elvish, who’d had a gorgeous Galadrial gown made just for the occasion struck up a campaign to get everyone in the crowd to direct Cate Blanchett to sign the back of her dress. It worked. Cate came over, gave her a hug, and signed her dress and poster! Meanwhile, another tour member, Sarah, was able to get Elijah Wood’s autograph and shake his hand.
All in all, BEST. DAY. EVER!
Up next, Ferry sights and Christchurch. In the meantime, enjoy these photos from The Hobbit World Premiere!
Click here for Arwen’s last post from Middle-earth – Simply Walking Into Mordor