The Hobbit: BOTFA premiere, part 2: Pain, agony, happiness, succes, cold & gold.

Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in News | No Comments

We wanted to be as early as possible. Breakfast opened at 7am, so I got up rather early. It turned out that I was rather quick and so I went downstairs and played pool against myself. Not much to my surprise, the pooltable was absolutely wonky. I checked some info on local clubs and figured that Ministry of Sound is indeed my place to be. At times. Although I think their hardstyle and hardcore evenings are rare, it’s something. Around 7, my friends came downstairs and we were ready to have breakfast. I tried something but it wasn’t very successful. I wasn’t allowed to put cheese and ham in the toaster, but I hoped the heat of the toast would melt the cheese. Who was I kidding? It was ok-ish. We went to London Bridge tube station and I severely hoped it would stay dry that day and maybe even a bit of sun. In the tube, we were faced with the possibility that the Northern Line would strike. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. However, due to the amount of people during rush hour in the tube, me and my friends got separated in the carriages. I decided to take the risk and use the Northern line, considering they had been announcing all the time that there was a good service. The Northern Line was much faster than transferring at Green Park for the Picadilly line.

So at Waterloo I got out but spotted no one leaving the train that had the shape of my friends. I walked past the train and signaled them. One of them was too late. We went up to the Northern Line and when we arrived at Leicester Square station, we waited outside the gates. A few minutes later she too, arrived. We went towards the square and tried to find more friends. After a short walkaround we found them. They were still building the green carpet, and by the looks of it it’d take a while. We asked some information about the setup, drop-off and how ‘fine’ I’d be with the number 190. The guard assured us we would be fine and asked for a picture of my costume on my phone, to see what it looked like. Like everyone, he loved it. And this is when the fun started.

I’ll be honest with you all. Walking around in Central London as Smaug is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. I changed in Costa! and when I emerged, heads got turned. I got comments like ‘awesome!’ ‘Nice costume’ and ‘oh my god’. However, I didn’t see a lot, considering the fact that I had a row of teeth and LED’s in my view. We lost a group of friends and went to find someone else. We go south of the square, where people without wristbands were queuing up. That was when I realised I severely underestimated the impact my costume had. Hundreds of people took out their phones and snapped pics of me. They also wanted to pose with me. We found our friend and I just walked down the street. However, in the end we got sent away because we had wristbands already. I was a little confused, since weren’t technically ON the square but I got their point anyway. When we went to the Starbucks between Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square we came to the conclusion we had lost some people but we were trying to find them. Inside Starbucks, another Dragon head made its way in, made of polystyrene, from Germany. A costume designer came to me and asked me how I made the head. By now I was entirely overwhelmed by the attention I was getting. We went out again and heard there was a queue at the M&M store. People were not queuing up in order and said they wouldn’t look at it anyway. When I arrived I just said it was complete bullshit because the number system was there for a reason. They had been asking for the numbers all weekend, and they sure as hell wouldn’t stop on the day itself. It’s just people spreading misinformation, I said.

We met up with some friends again in the queue, which was from 1-500. There was media filming me when I put on the rest of the costume again for a row of photos. Posing a bit, we got note to stand in line. I found my spot and the waiting game begun. It started at 11 am. We thought we would move in at 12, or maybe 1pm. Thinking the heat of the crowd would warm me up by then, I felt fine. But after an hour I could feel the cold seep through, not to mention the weight of the head. (I just weighed it. It weighs 4kilograms. Exactly the same weight as the Boolean Gun/Klingon Heavy Distruptor from Star Trek into Darkness! That’s A LOT.) Thank god I had a blanket provided by a friend. The waiting game started.

  • 1pm: We still stood at the same place. My head had been taken on and off to relieve my neck and head every once in a while. Latest news was we would move in at 2pm.
  • 2pm: still no sign of movement. By now I was shivering, cold to the bone and in need of a toilet. The head was now really starting to hurt my neck in the cold. Some people took turns in carrying it or wearing it.
  • 3pm: I couldn’t wait any longer so I went to the toilet in the pub/bar across the place where we were queued up. The warmth inside the pub made me feel a little bit better. The head was in the hands of a friend so I could actually walk down the stairs safely.
  • 3:30pm: Finally we get it moving. I return the blanket, put on the head and we have to wait until the first three groups are in. Then it’s my turn to enter the pens.

I was supposed to find a friend, but it didn’t really work out. Eventually I did find her after walking the carpet up and down twice, which had cost me a valuable front-row place. Now, at second row, we waited. Slowly the pens were filling up and I hoped the temperature would too. Unfortunately that wasn’t happening. A lot of media interviewed me and asked me who I wanted to see. We also played a game with every one trying to get a video or photo with me. They have to touch the tongue! We eventually started the #touchthetongue on twitter. After the people were in the pens and the media had done their thing, it was time to get the event started. An MC with DJ started running around on the carpet. The MC stopped at me and asked me what I had on my head.

“Well I guess you can see that clearly, can’t you?” I said.
“This is no time to be witty woman! This is your moment!”
“I know, which is why I am witty.”

Sorry, I never take these things extremely serious. But in the end I told him it was Smaug’s head and that I was actually in full costume. A fact obscured by people in front of me. Air New Zealand then gave me a box for the costume and we got warmed up a bit by upbeat music. Soon after, Alex Zane took over and the event officially started. We got some clips, of which I could see exactly none. See, my head was in this unfavorable position of being an unmovable object. At times. Then the first stars started to arrive and by now I felt like Khan at the end of Star Trek into Darkness. A human popsicle. Except I was shaking. I was given handwarmers and eventually someone even stood up for me against (I think) some autograph hunters, as they constantly pushed me in odd positions. Everything hurt and I learnt one thing about myself. Never again would I do this. But I did test my body limits. The pain and the cold were making me numb and to a certain point I just wanted to get out of there. I wanted to leave, no matter what. But I wouldn’t. I would not back off. I had been working towards this for a year. No amount of pain and cold would chase me away. They would not win!

I also learnt that celebrities are just people to me. Of course they are people, but I mean that they could’ve been my neighbour. I just don’t care about their status. I care about their work. No increase in heartbeat, no nerves, nothing. I overestimated their influence on me at first, but I felt calmness knowing that I won’t be budged. Then it happens. Screaming from the other side. People around me are getting fired up. Then Alex Zane announces the name I’d been waiting for.

“Benedict Cumberbatch has joined us at the green carpet.”

Still nothing in my chest though. I smirked, knowing that everyone is losing their minds and I’m just standing there, dressed like a dragon. One would think I was the mental one. But I wasn’t. A few minutes later we hear his voice over the square as he gets interviewed at the start of the carpet. I get out my golden pen and place it carefully in Smaug’s jaw. I had been lifting the head throughout the premiere every once in a while because my neck was now severely hurting. By now I’m clenching my jaws and closing my eyes to manually shut down all pain and temperature receptors. It works for a little bit, but the moment one of the stars comes over, my concentration is broken and I instantly feel the sharp pains in my neck and arms. Eventually Luke Evans is signing at our place and sees my pained face.

“Are you alright?”
“Not really, I could be better, thanks.” I reply to him.

Benedict walks past in a hurried pace, doing media. People are screaming his name, trying to get him over here. And they didn’t just do it for them. But also for me, as most of them knew he was one of my main targets. I had two targets; Peter Jackson and Benedict Cumberbatch. Considering Benedicts pacing, I figured Peter was the easiest one to go for. Benedict returned and got taken up by media across our pen. Peter Jackson completely disappeared. However, for the first time in my life I finally had seen Cumberbatch in real life and what captivated me was my lack of emotions or feelings. This man had meant the world to me, yet I felt nothing but the pain and the cold. But it wasn’t a bad feeling, in fact, I was proud. Proud that I could withstand what many couldn’t. Proud that I wasn’t blinded by fame. Staring into nothingness (well actually people and cameras) I kind of started to go inside my mind. That’s when suddenly everyone started to shout his name again. I got pulled back to earth, just in time to see him walk past and turn around to say sorry.

Except he didn’t.

The moment he turned around he looked me in the eyes instantly. His face told me everything I needed to know. He had seen me and was more than excited to come forward. With a strong pace, he walks towards our pen and never fails to keep eyecontact. Everyone around me is starting to lose their minds and I just stand there going “Well that’s interesting, I was just about to leave this earth for a moment.” inside my mind. I try to move a bit forward to make it easier for him to reach me. People had tremendous respect for me AND him, to give me the space I needed. They could’ve clogged everything up and pushed stuff in his face, but instead, I was given a clear way to move forward, if only an inch.

“Can I take a photo with you?” He asked me.

I laughed. This was AnimeCon 2013 all over again, when a popular Japanese band wanted to take a photo with me backstage when I was dressed as Nobell Gundam.

“Yes of course you can! But I just want you to sign the tongue!”
“Are you sure? The tongue?”
“Yes, the tongue.”
“Wow you’ve just earned yourself the weirdest fan-encounter I’ve ever had.”
“I hope it was a good one.”
“Yeah definitely.”
“Nice to finally meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too.”

He signs the tongue, there was a photo taken and I just can’t remember if he gave Karon his iPhone to take a photo of us as well. Considering the request, I think it’s plausible. But it’s such a blur, I can’t remember. I know I’ve been photographed a lot that day. Then he left. No one else got their stuff signed. It made me feel kind of bad, but I also know I got this reward because I’ve put effort in to it. I had worked a year towards this moment. And now I got it. But part of me was surprised in a bad way. Working a year towards this. And then not feeling anything. No excitement, no nerves, no increased heartrate. Was it worth it? Yes it was. Definitely. Would I do it again? Not like this, no. I put back the pen in my trousers and while I still contemplated my lack of emotions, everyone in our pens was screaming.

As it turned out, Benedict was just having his interview on the stage and mentioned me several times. Also, Alex Zane, if you EVER read this: I AM NOT A YOUNG GIRL. A young lady, maybe. But no longer a young girl! However, I didn’t hear any of it, as every one was screaming, and I was tired, knackered, cold and painful. I hoped Peter Jackson would come around. But he didn’t. Because it didn’t take that long before the event was coming to an end. When the stars entered the cinema, the media came towards me.

“How did it feel when Benedict Cumberbatch signed your tongue?”

They expected me to be excited. I knew I disappointed them immensely when I answered: “well….normal?” They made an odd face and said:

“It must’ve been a bit weird?”
“Not really?”
“Ok how about this, is he really as sexy and has he really got such a nice voice as you know from telly?”
“I..eh….no?”

But I wasn’t heard. Every one around me was nodding heavily. It’s the answer they wanted, so it’s the answer they used. I remained silent. The moment people leave me alone, I feel the pain. They opened the gates but I couldn’t leave just yet. I just became instantly (and temporarily) famous because of the signed tongue. People wanted pictures of me, and during me trying to exit the pens, I had to pose several times. A friend took my suitcase and we moved towards the M&M store, where they’d be waiting. They moved on ahead because I had to pose every few meters with people. Eventually I’m in the store and finally warm up. I get told to get rid of the mask and I tell the guard that there’s nothing else on my mind but getting it off. I open the suitcase and put the head inside. We rendevouz in the center of the store and I just tell my friends that I’m very sorry but I need to get out of this costume asap! We go outside and I get changed on the streets and neatly pack away Smaug in his suitcase. That’s when I start to regain a normal temperature and feel hungry. We try to find friends but it’s no use. We take the tube back to the hotel. Or at least, we tried. I managed to get in the train but the rest didn’t. So I mouthed ‘Waterloo’.

At waterloo, I got out and sat down on a bench. And my god I was tired. I had trouble keeping my eyes open, even though I didn’t have any sleep. I was just so insanely exhausted that I figured I’d finally reached my limits. My friends emerged from the next train and we went to the hotel. I told them that I’m usually not that quiet. When we get to our room and I sit down. I just feel that I can’t get up anymore. My hunger is gone and all my body wants is rest. I apologise for being unable to join them in the quest for food. They were very understanding, considering the limits my body had seen the past week. When they left, I took a shower and went to bed. I don’t remember them returning so I guess I fell asleep quickly.

The road back was uneventful, except for the tea-stop at mum’s new boyfriend where we watched the interviews. I had already watched the famous interview in the bus. And all I remember is that I slept really well and really deep that night. Then I fell ill for the rest of the week and got in some trouble, but it should be resolved quickly.

 

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