By Rebecca Howard
It was a party in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington Wednesday with thousands of fans lining the Red Carpet at the world premiere of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
They came in droves to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars and many came in costume. Barbara, Brenna and Kathy Ring, three sisters from San Diego proudly showed off their handmade Hobbit garments and their large hairy feet. “Our feet have a lot of patches, we’ve been using them for awhile,” said Kathy Ring. Being a hobbit is about being “a small person, in a big world and just making the best you can out of it,” she said. Pablo Bouyssounade, a fully decked-out hobbit with very authentic looking feet, was an extra in the movie. “It was one of the best experiences I have ever had,” he said. He said he is looking forward to seeing the movie as “so far I’ve only seen two scenes, the ones I was in.”
Kiwi singer Neil Finn and his band welcomed the crowd with a set of Split Enz and Crowded House favorites and the haunting “Song of the Lonely Mountain,” which he wrote and performed for “The Hobbit” soundtrack.
Stars from the movie like Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin Oakenshield, and Cate Blanchett, who plays Galadriel, were highly sought after for autographs while Andy Serkis drew a wild cheer from the crowd when he spoke in his whispery Gollum voice.
Some brought ladders to see better, while others stood on the nearby rooftops and balconies and smaller fans clambered onto their parents’ shoulders. At least one person, sporting elfin ears, was up a tree.
Several groups camped out overnight to secure their spot. Cinnamon Tararo, who came event with her son and husband and waited for more than eight hours in the sun said “it’s absolutely awesome. It’s been a long day, but is it ever worth it.”
Samuel, age 14, sat on a folding chair playing solitaire under the shadow of several trolls. “I’ve been here since early this morning, but I don’t want to see actors, I want to see Peter Jackson,” he said with a grin. Mr. Jackson had many fans in the crowd with some waving signs that said “Peter Jackson for Prime Minister.”
Mr. Jackson gave a brief interview as he made his way down the 500-metre red carpet, a journey that took him more than two hours.
“New Zealand is a very small country, it is a very young country and we like to celebrate when we punch above our weight. We sometimes do quite well at sports and now we are doing okay at movie making too,” he said.
Mr. Jackson said Wednesday marked the second time he has seen the entire movie and the first time with an audience. “I am just very proud of the whole movie at the moment. I haven’t really picked a favorite scene yet,” he said.
Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins, also stopped for a brief chat about being the Hobbit himself. “I love his vulnerability but I also love his strength of character. I love the fact that he feels the fear and does it anyway. I love the fact that he likes corduroy and food,” he said.
As the last of the stars made their way up the red carpet and the official speeches drew to a close hot, tired and happy fans began to wind their way homeward, clutching their grey wizard hats and souvenir Hobbit flags.
“It was the greatest day,” said Hayley Ison, who had also waited all day to catch a glimpse of the stars. “I can hardly wait to see the movie.”
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade Brown – who saw the movie tonight – said the film was “amazing” and the 3D technology “made the cliff paths and the falls in the mountain terrifying.”