What does waking up at 6am in the morning, pulling myself out of bed, taking a bus over to Leicester Square and staking out a spot in the rain in front of a movie theatre equal out to? Madness, obsession, paranoia and fangirling. I am all these things. Yes, I was outside in the rain in London for a total of 13 hours on Wednesday, October 8th, for The Imitation Game film premiere. I skipped my playwriting class, was soaked by cold water, and running on pure adrenaline, all to see Benedict Cumberbatch and other celebrities in person.
As I said, I arrived around 6:30am that morning, looked around, didn’t see anyone else in front of the theatre, which made me assume I was the first person there. Little did I know, there were people who had actually camped out, but they were in another area (which is why I didn’t find them until almost 8:30am). It was raining so I sat under an arbor and began to read my book. The nearest Costa’s opened at 7:30am so I went and got some tea and then went back outside to claim my spot. At 8:30, I saw a bunch of people who looked like they were there for the premiere, but in another part of the square. I walked over there, and there were 3 people giving out numbers for a line that would form later. They looked a bit sketchy to me, but I got a number and went back to my previous spot.
Around 9am I happened to meet a very nice girl named Kelsey who had just arrived, and found out she’s from Seattle too, so it was nice to bond with a fellow West Coaster. Throughout the day, more people started turning up, getting their numbers and finally around 2:30pm, we were forced away from the front of the theatre and over to the other side of the square so they could set up the premiere. I was number 59 (although I would’ve had a better number had I known about those people earlier), and I stood in line. We were over there for about an hour and a half, and then the security people came over and rushed us into the fan pens.
I love watching a premiere get set up. It’s really magical to see the area get transformed from a tourist spot, into a place where celebrities will soon walk. In the next couple hours, all the fans got but behind our bars (much like animals, as most most of the attendees are pretty hungry for some star action), I met a lovely girl named Sophie, with whom we traded previous premiere stories, watched them roll out the red carpet, got interviewed for a video for the Bletchley Park exhibition based on the film, and became ecstatic with excitement for it all to start.
Of course, the rain started to get really heavy as things started getting going. Stars started arriving around 6:30. Keira Knightley was the first to join the red carpet. She did interviews for ages and never made it over to our section to sign autographs. Morten Tyldum (the director), Graham Moore (the screenwriter), Mark Strong, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance, Allen Leech and more actors from the film all started to arrive. Out of all these people, Allen Leech was the only one to come to our section and sign autographs. I was happy to get at least one, especially from someone from Downton Abbey (one of my favorite shows). He was so nice and sweet too. I was glad to see him up close.
As the night went on, other celebrities having nothing to do with the film turned up. Some of these were John Hurt, Terry Gilliam, and Andy Serkis (who snuck by at the last minute). I was happy to see all of these people. I was a little bummed though, because I’d heard a rumor that Alan Rickman was supposed to turn up and he didn’t. I was also a bit bummed because one of my favorite film composers, Alexandre Desplat, was there, but he didn’t made it to our area, which meant I couldn’t tell him how much his music inspired me.
And of course, the person I’d been waiting for the most, Benedict Cumberbatch was one of the last stars to arrive. He actually did end up signing a lot of autographs, but none in our section, which was a bummer, but to even be that close up to him was the most amazing thing. It’s almost unreal to see your favorite actor in real life, and I’m happy I got a chance to do that. He was so sweet too. He was signing, taking selfies with fans, and then later apologized in his interview that he couldn’t sign for everyone. Even though I didn’t get his autograph or a selfie with him, I was not disappointed. I was just graced to be in his presence. I hope to catch him again at The Hobbit premiere in December, and maybe I’ll get a chance then.
And that was my day. Being out in the rain, being in the midst of thousands of excited fans was so wonderful. The last London premiere I attended was Sherlock Holmes 2, back in December of 2011, so I was happy to be back in my element again. I may have not been as successful this time around, but I still had a wonderful day, made new friends, saw some of my favorite actors, and got to be a part of a worldwide experience that many people wished they could’ve attended. So if you have the time and patience, you can watch the full premiere coverage in this video below. You’ll definitely see me in there a couple times 🙂