Tom (Hardly): Live from the Red Carpet
EXT. CINEWORLD - BROAD STREET – DUSK
Cut to a sunny dusk evening, and the road outside Cineworld has been transformed into an all-singing red carpet affair for the premiere of 'Locke', the new film from director Steven Knight (the creator of Birmingham based 'Peaky Blinders') and starring heavyweight actor Tom Hardy.
As a film graduate/buff this is more exciting than Christmas Eve circa 1985. Myself and our interviewer Ellie are in the press pen and have a great spot, but are getting demoted down the line of journalists with each passing moment. We are small fry, this is evident by the size of our camera (approximately 1:20 the scale of everyone else's) - our microphone looks like a cotton bud in comparison to ITV's.
Anchorlady Lucy Kite arrives fashionably late, she has an air of cool about her and she's going live momentarily, in contrast we are going pale. A friendly PR lady appears and asks us to give her a hit-list of stars we'd like to interview so she can direct them our way. It is at this moment my ever-diminishing knowledge of popular culture becomes evident, as even with a cheat sheet in front of me that puts names to faces, I only recognise about 5% of the celebrities. 'All those from Birmingham' we announce.
I am sure we are the envy of the posse of girls behind us, I can sense that they know we are pretenders, charlatans that are out of our league. They have daggers on us. They'd sell organs for the pair of premiere tickets sticking out my back pocket and they'd knowingly break the law for our hallowed green wrist bands of access.
Then, it has begun, the great and the good start to file past us. First to be ushered our way is Danielle Lloyd (model, W.A.G etc.), she looks stunning – unfortunately I can't take in the entirety of her beauty as I am looking through the camera framing her face, I momentarily consider zooming out, but being a professional sacrifice the view for the integrity of the shot.
Ellie - 'Have you been to Birmingham before?'
Danielle – 'I live in Birmingham'
No shakes, this is our maiden voyage in the interviewing game.
Next up - Jasper Carrott, who tells us he discovered Steven Knight and that before directing films he used to write scripts for 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?', we think he is having us on – that card! – but later a check on Wikipedia confirms Jasper's story to be true. Why does WWTBAM? need a scriptwriter? Surely the extent of Chris Tarrant's script is 'Final answer?' anyway I digress... back to the unfolding events on the red carpet and it's...
Steven Knight, the director himself! Who is very generous with his time. The interview is going like a dream, Steven discusses Peaky Blinders Season 2, his collaboration with Hardy, his love of Birmingham and just as I'm beginning to think Ellie would give Michael Parkinson a run for his money, one minor slip – Knight has just finished a lengthy and in depth monologue on the themes and characters of Locke and looks to us for a follow-up question....Ellie responds…
'Absolutely!..so Steven, what's your favourite Birmingham motorway?'
No need to fear, Knight starts off an eloquent speech on why he loves Spaghetti Junction. Phew.
At this moment, if things had gone to plan, we could have presented him with this fabulous Spaghetti Junction keyring that we once sold to the public.
But alas, these are now merely a whisper, a thing of legend, well and truly out of stock.
Knight has moved on and Ellie informs me that she is blacking out internally with each interview, but there's no time for unconsciousness because...
...here comes Hardy! HE'S BANE! HE'S BRONSON!..... HE'S BOWLED STRAIGHT PAST US!
Had we dropped the ball? Had we just stood there open-mouthed, gawping as he tried to engage with us? More likely he had seen the size of our equipment.
My roving reporter, not to be outdone starts to rove, I stumble after her as the microphone in her hand is attached to our miniscule camera on the tripod 'TOM!', 'TOM!' she shrieks fearlessly. I'm about to tell her to flash a bit of leg, but no need, he's back! She's done it, she's reeled him back in - 'Intrepid' I think to myself as Tom Hardy mumbles something about a visit to the Q.E hospital and the lovely weather.
Ellie – 'How long have you been in Birmingham?'
Tom – 'About 15 minutes'
And then he's gone again. I am yet to see the recording (been on half-term with the kids), but needless to say I'm guessing a Director's Cut would not exceed 20 seconds* For me, one disappointment of the evening is that Ellie did not get the opportunity to deliver her impressive Bane (baddy from Batman) impression to Tom. It really is rather special and doesn't require the implementation of voice altering equipment or anything!
The sun is setting behind Tesco's and I collapse our tripod and sling it over my shoulder (I believe this will make me look like a pro) and we make our way into Cineworld for Part II of this evening par excellence. In hindsight we should have lorded it up the red carpet, firing imaginary pistols on our way and winking at the assembled crowd; instead we slip in near the front unnoticed.
As we enter the screening we are ushered to seats near the front of the auditorium, which, although will give us neck ache watching the film, serve us in good stead for the Q&A afterwards with director and star. My excitement hits new heights as I see we have been gifted with popcorn (sweet – as in the flavour) a good-sized bag of Maltesers (sweet – as in 'nice one!') and some bottled water (unfizzy and unpretentious). We wait, surveying the rows behind us for celebs, just before the film begins the unoccupied seat to my right is taken by a scruffy journalistic looking fellow, DANG! I was holding out for a W.A.G!
The film begins, there is something quite special about watching the film in the presence of those involved. On a couple of occasions one woman laughs too enthusiastically at minor comedic moments, trying to earn futile brownie points with Hardy I'd wager.
My opinion of the film you cry? Well, I thought it was great, loved it, 8.3 recurring from me. 'A powerful showcase for Hardy's substantial talent' - This quote would look great on the DVD cover don't you agree?
And then as quickly as it began it's all over. I go back to the banality of normal life, I stop off at Sainsbury's on the way home to buy some Sellotape.
The next morning I am looking at my cinema ticket with post-film premiere blues, but am cheered up when Ellie texts me this picture of us (well Ellie and my beard) from page 5 of the morning's Times newspaper.
I appear to be Locke(ing) lips (see what I did there?) with Hardy.
*To see our full interview (ahem) with Tom Hardy and the other stars stay tuned, they are currently in the Marketing Birmingham editing suite.
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