As the line of matching silver sedans pulled up to the street in central London, near the Odeon theater, the streets were lined on both sides by thousands of barricaded fans trying to glimpse the celebrities behind the tinted windows. Feeling a bit like we were in an invisible fishbowl, Michael and I were shellshocked and suddenly nervous about the crowd. We were arriving for the Harry Potter Prisoner of Azkaban premiere and Michael had just finished a crazy week of publicity in London and Scotland. He has become a bit of a celebrity in the UK during the past week, being stopped by fans on the London streets to such an extent that Warner Brothers hired a security detail for him. One headline called him the ‘Cult Hero of the People’.
As we arrived at the beginning of the red carpet and the car doors were opened for us, there was a loud roar from the crowd to the point that Michael and I could not hear each other speak. Screams of “Gunther” erupted and Michael was quickly overwhelmed by autograph seekers. He was then ushered to the press line and spent a bit of time being interviewed while I stood a little ways behind him waiting with a publicist, my legs shaking from that strange sensation of being watched by thousands of people while I have no specific role to play. After it took us over half an hour to get past the fans and press and into the theater, we were seated and waiting for the movie to start. The movie screen was showing the red carpet, and the stars of Harry Potter as they arrived were immediately whisked in to the whirlwind of autograph signings and assembly-line press interviews. Emma Watson, who plays Hermione, was flitting back and forth like a butterfly in front of the barricades of autograph seekers, signing so quickly that her arms were a blur. The young stars handled the press and fans with such elegance that there is no doubt they are born professionals.
As the stars were finally allowed to come into the theater, they were introduced on the stage along with the current director and the director of the previous two movies in the series. Once they returned to their seats, the movie started. This movie was a bit darker than the previous two in the series, and it was very evident that the new director focused more on the action of the story rather than on the characters as the previous director had. It was remarkable to watch the movie with the cast and director sitting mere rows in front of us, and Michael and I enjoyed ourselves immensely.
After the movie, we were corralled towards some coaches to take us to the party at the Natural History Museum. On the way to the busses, Michael introduced me to the president of Warner Brothers. After the bus took a very circuitous route to the museum, in order to escape any followers, we departed and entered the museum which was decked out in full Potter regalia. There were owls from the movie on either side of the entrance while their handlers presumable developed fatigued arms. Owls are very heavy. The entrance to the museum was lit up with orange lighting, casting the architectural detail in sharp relief, and there were torches guiding us in to the huge doors. Once inside, we were ushered into the VIP area for food catered by Jamie Oliver (or so I heard). For the next few hours, while Michael was being mobbed by fans, I rubbed elbows with Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Chris Columbus, Katie Holmes, Claudia Schiffer, and almost all of the stars of Harry Potter (but where was Ron Weasley?). I watched as Daniel Ratcliff was so mobbed by people that he didn’t get 20 feet into the room during the entire evening. He looked a little frazzled and overwhelmed but was still quite charming and attentive to everyone.
All in all, a very good evening out.