Posted by: James Rhodes | October 29, 2016

The Accountant UK Premiere

The Accountant UK Premiere

I’m back! Yes, I know that I’ve slacked a little in these posts during 2016, I’ve been meaning to get an update or two posted for weeks, but put simply I’ve not had a chance to sit at my laptop and type something up! October in particular has been pretty crazy – I’ve been out meeting people on more days than I haven’t! Anyways, last week saw the UK premiere of The Accountant starring Ben Affleck and one of my absolute favourites, Anna Kendrick. I love Anna, and was gutted to be away when she was in London a couple of weeks earlier to promote Trolls with Justin Timberlake. There was such a short gap between that promo trip and this premiere that I was convinced she wouldn’t make the trip over and that only Ben would be there. Even on the morning of the premiere I had that belief; there were photos of Ben arriving at his hotel, but none of Anna. I was ready for disappointment. But then, around lunchtime, a photo was posted on Twitter of Ben and Anna doing a press junket. It was happening!

I got to Leicester Square and met up with a few friends. It was all looking good – sunny skies, a good spot by where the cars stop and a laugh whilst waiting. It all felt too good to be true. Turned out it was – about an hour before arrivals were due to start, it started to cloud over, greyer and greyer, and then the inevitable; the heavens opened. Genuinely, I’ve not stood in rain like it before. Everyone and everything was drenched. There were no signs of it stopping. The warm up man did his stuff, photographers got ready, security were in place, and it carried on pouring. First to arrive was Ben Affleck. Ben spent a fair bit of time meeting people, but it was futile trying to get something signed. He did pose for a photo with me, which sadly didn’t come out. I’ve got two good ones with him already this year, so I’m not too worried about it.

Next to arrive was Arrow actress Cynthia Addai-Robinson. Sadly she didn’t come over to sign, which was a shame but not surprising given the rain. Director Gavin O’Connor soon followed. He posed for a photo with me.

Then we waited; cars pulled up, people got out, bu no Anna. A good 15 minutes went by and there was no sign of her. But the good thing was the rain had started to ease, and sure enough eventually stopped all together. The Gods were clearly feeling kind, as two minutes after the rain stopped, up pulled a car and out got Anna. She started to sign and pose for pictures, but it seemed like her PA was going to pull her away to do press interviews. She carried on going, and then got to us! My heart was in my mouth, but Anna was super friendly! She was super chatty, and signed and dedicated a photo for me.

I then asked her for a photo, and she happily agreed! Cue a very happy James! My camera was playing up, so a friend took it on their camera, and it is possibly my favourite photo with Anna to date.

Since Anna is one of my favourites, and she was being so nice, I couldn’t resist getting a second photo with her on my phone, which she was happy to pose for.

That was that, and it was time to try and warm up and dry off. Despite the ridiculous rain, everything worked out perfectly in the end! After the disappointment of missing the Trolls promotion, this was certainly a nice way to make up for it!

Posted by: James Rhodes | March 25, 2016

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice Premiere

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice Premiere

Tuesday 22 March

Tuesday saw the European premiere of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in Leicester Square, the latest DC Comics with with a stellar cast including Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Diane Lane and Jesse Eisenberg. Of course I couldn’t resist being there. I’ve never met Ben, and I always take the chance to break my Amy Adams curse (details of that come later!). Plus, I’d love to meet Gal too. Luckily I’d been at another event two days before, and security had told us how it would work in terms of wristbands, which was a great help.

I arrived and met up with a few friends, including one who’d kindly got me a wristband the day before. It was a big set up, and SUNNY! I was hoping for a good evening. It was a bit of a weird evening in the run up to arrivals – the terrible events in Brussels earlier in the morning had resulted in the press line being cancelled, and a lot tighter security. But it had been decided for the premiere to go ahead, and with the most time consuming event (press interviews) no longer taking place, it seemed there’d be more time for the cast and crew to meet fans. This was half true, but the cast did arrive about 30 minutes later than originally expected (or in one case, almost 90 minutes later, more on that later).

With one exception, everyone arrived in pretty quick succession, but spent a lot of time at the top of the red carpet, so I’ll just write this in the order people came to where I was. First  to come over was the film’s composer, the legendary Hans Zimmer. I had no idea Hans was going to be attending, so this was a massive surprise and bonus! I love some of his film scores, whether it be The Lion King, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean or countless others. I’ve wanted to meet Hans since I started this hobby, so was chuffed when he came over – and was lovely. He signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo too.

I could have gone home happy at that point! Hans was followed by Batman himself, Ben Affleck! The star of Argo, Good Will Hunting, Pearl Harbour, Shakespeare in Love and Armageddon was super nice, and signed an index card and posed for a photo too. Of all the people at the premiere, Ben seemed to be the nicest – he signed and posed for photos with as many people as he physically could, and even had a couple of PAs to take photos if fans wanted them to. Tom Cruise style!

Ben was followed by Jesse Eisenberg, who I really like as an actor – I loved The Social Network, and Adventureland is a film I never tire of watching. Jesse was quite quiet, but said thanks for coming to literally every person he signed for. He signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo. Third time I’ve met Jesse, and he’s been the same each time – happy to sign, just quiet.

Next to come over was a very big surprise, Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill! The Star Wars star was here just to watch the film, but still took the time to meet a fair few fans. I’ve never heard good stories about Mark signing, especially away from a paid convention, but I must be honest, he was really nice here. He signed an index card for me, and even posed for a photo too. I’m still in shock! He used his own gold pen, which I think is quite clever since he’s not afraid of using social media to point out fake or real signatures on eBay, and didn’t mind engaging in conversation with people. He didn’t come over at the Force Awakens premiere, so this made up for that!

The film’s producer Deborah Snyder soon followed. She signed an index card and posed for a photo with me. Sadly I missed her husband and the film’s director Zack Synder, but I’m sure there’ll be another chance with him one day.

Oscar winning actress Holly Hunter, star of films including The Piano, Broadcast News and The Firm came over next. She was again really friendly, and signed an index card and posed for a photo with me. So far so good at the premiere!

Superman himself, Henry Cavill, soon followed behind Holly. I’ve met Henry a couple of times before, and he’s been great both times. He seemed a lot more rushed here, but I’ll put that down to an attempt to get to as many fans as possible. Henry signed a Man of Steel poster I’ve had for a while, and agreed to pose for a “very quick” photo. I wouldn’t say it was the best photo in the world, but a photo is a photo! The poster has come out great though in gold I think!

The person I was most hoping to meet in the evening Amy Adams came over next. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have seen Amy on a red carpet, but not met her. I think this was the 6th or 7th attempt I’d tried to meet her! It’s always been funny at the BAFTAs when she’s been nominated, and it becoming a running joke that the one person I’m guaranteed to not meet on the red carpet is Amy. But, at 6:45pm on a Tuesday evening on a warm March day, the curse was broken! Amy was lovely, and even listened to me tell her I’d tried to meet her so many times in the past! She signed an index card, and posed for a photo too! Happy James!!

The film was due to start at 7:15. It got to 7:00, and there was still one person missing – Gal Gadot. 7:05 came, 7:10 came, still no sign. We presumed she had cancelled her appearance. Or at least she’d arrive and just walk straight into the cinema. 7:15 came, still no sign. At about 7:20, when a fair few fans had already left, a car pulled up and out got Gal. She posed for the photographers, and sure enough went straight along without stopping, with her PA telling the crowd “she’d come back”. Hmm. She did an interview on the big stage at the end of the red carpet, signed maybe 3 autographs, and then went straight into the cinema. Come back indeed! I’d heard bad stories about her, and they seemed to be true. The vast majority of people left at this point, but a few of us decided there was no harm in waiting until the cast left, as they were only introducing the film rather than staying to watch it. 20 or so minutes passed, more and more people left.

However… the PA was true to her word. Gal left the cinema, and started signing at the far end of the carpet. Not many, but enough to give hope she’d actually come back down. Sure enough, she did! Wonder Woman signed an index card for me, and even agreed to pose for a photo! Happy James! My camera, well, let’s just say didn’t really work. You can tell who it is, and that it’s me, but I’m gutted it didn’t take a nice photo.

All in all, it was a massively successful evening! I finally broke my Amy Adams curse, got to meet Wonder Woman, and even got a photo with Luke Skywalker! That doesn’t happen every day! I missed Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller (who I didn’t even see!), but I really don’t mind at all. I was still definitely a HAPPY JAMES!

Posted by: James Rhodes | March 13, 2016

BAFTAs 2016


Sunday 14 February 2016

Firstly, I apologise for the lateness of this post; the past couple of months have been rather busy, and I’ve not really had the chance to write about some of my autograph escapades. Sorry! Anyways, better late than never…

The BAFTAs are always my favourite day of the year in this hobby. For the past eight years now I have spent a Sunday afternoon in the middle of February on Bow Street, outside the Royal Opera House, meeting the great and the good of the film world.

From Daniel Craig and Danny Boyle in 2009, Mickey Rourke, James Cameron and Anna Kendrick in 2010, Emma Watson, Samuel L Jackson and JK Rowling in 2011, George Clooney, Daniel Radcliffe and Colin Firth in 2012, Daniel Day Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence in 2013, Bradley Cooper, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey in 2014 and Reese Witherspoon, David Beckham and Steve Carrell in 2015, it’s always a fun evening.

Once the nominations were announced in early January for 2016, I had a good feeling that it’d be another fun evening, with one of my all time favourites Alicia Vikander up for two awards, the idea of spending Valentines Day with her was rather exciting! Once the list of attendees was announced, I’d decided if I met any of Alicia, Steven Spielberg and Emilia Clarke, I’d go home happy.

I’ll skip the somewhat boring part that comes before the arrivals began, other than to say IT WASN’T RAINING! Third year in a row without rain, and another year of it not being too cold. The weather gods were on our side. I was probably about a third of the way down the red carpet, nicely sandwiched before the BBC red carpet interviewer, which hopefully was going to bode well for people coming over. It was hard to tell the order in which people arrived, so this is simply done in the order in which people came over.

First to come over to us was none other than one of the people I most wanted to meet, one of my favourites Alicia Vikander! The star of The Danish Girl was as lovely as always, and happily signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo too. Happy James!! I didn’t really mind at that point how the rest of the evening went at that point onwards!

I also got a few photos of her being interviewed, it was pretty nice to be able to hear the interview happening right in front of me!

Alicia was followed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens star, and winner of the night’s Rising Star award John Boyega! Much like at the Star Wars premiere (I still need to do a write up from that evening), John tried to meet as many people as he could. He signed an index card and posed for a photo.

James Bond producer Michael G Wilson was next to come over. He signed an index card and posed for a photo with me. As I’ve met Michael a couple of times in the past I gave the index card to a friend, who didn’t get him on the red carpet.

Brooklyn star Saiorse Ronan followed soon after. She signed an index card too and posed for a photo. I loved Brooklyn, one of my favourite films of last year probably. That reminds me, that’s another premiere I need to do a write-up for..

Matt Smith, best known for his starring role as the eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who was next to come over. It’s funny, I’ve wanted to get a photo with Matt since he first played the Doctor.. but he’s not exactly been the nicest to me over the past six years. This was the second time I’d met him in the space of a month, and he was really nice both times! He signed an index card and posed for a photo! Just one of the living Doctors to go before I’ve met the set.

Next to follow was one of my most wanteds and one of my all time favourite comedians, the awesome Sacha Baron Cohen, best known for his roles as Borat, Ali G, The Dictator and for his role in Les Miserables. I met Sacha at Wimbledon last summer, and he said he never poses for photos with people, but he did sign an index card for me then. Here, however, he was happy to sign an index card and pose for a photo! An awesome surprise!

His wife, actress Isla Fisher also signed an index card and posed for a photo with me.

Immediately behind Sacha and Isla was Steve Jobs star Michael Fassbender. Michael was as nice as he always has been, and signed an index card for me. I missed out on getting a photo with him in the quickness with Sacha there. My highlight however, was noticing the background of my photo with Isla Fisher. If you look closely, you can see Sacha taking a photo of Michael with a fan! I just find that really funny!

Rising Star nominee and star of Eddie the Eagle and Kingsman Taron Egerton soon followed. He signed an index card and posed for a photo. Again I’ve since given the index card to a friend who missed Taron.

Eddie Redmayne, star of The Danish Girl and Theory of Everything came over next, and signed my Theory of Everything DVD sleeve. I didn’t manage to get a photo with him, but as I’ve got a couple over past years I’m not too worried.

Spotlight actor Mark Ruffalo soon followed. He signed an index card and posed for a photo with me. I really like Mark; this is the third time I’ve met him and he’s always been lovely. Even if I do have a gatecrasher in my photo!

Next to come over was one of the people I was most hoping to meet, the legendary film director Steven Spielberg. The man responsible for films including Jaws, ET, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park and War Horse has been on my most wanted list for years, but I never imagined I’d meet him. I’d heard he was really friendly at the UK premiere of War Horse a few years back, which I sadly didn’t make. Although he didn’t seem to sign many on the red carpet, he was lovely to the people he did go over to. Steven signed my War Horse DVD sleeve, already signed by Jeremy Irvine and Tom Hiddleston, as well as an index card. He even posed for a photo with me. Unreal!

Skins and Unbroken actor Jack O’Connell followed next. He signed an index card and posed for a photo with me.

Jack was followed by the director of the Danish Girl, Tom Hooper. I got an index card signed by Tom, and a photo with him. I’ve since given the index card to a friend who didn’t get him on the red carpet.

The fantastic Kate Winslet came over next. The Steve Jobs nominee was really friendly, and signed an index card for me. She posed for a quick photo too. Just needed her Titanic co-star to turn up on the red carpet now!

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin was right behind Kate. He signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo. I love The West Wing, so it was great to meet the man behind it!

Aaron was followed by the man a lot of people were waiting for, Leonardo DiCaprio! The (finally) Oscar winning actor seemed to do his best to sign for as many people as he could, and posing for as many fans as he could too. Leo signed and dedicated an index card for me, and posed for a quick photo. This was the third time I’ve met him, and I’ve always found him to be a nice guy – I’m glad he finally won his Oscar!

Star Wars and Game of Thrones actress Gwendoline Christie came over next, and quickly signed an index card for me.

At about this point Emilia Clarke, the last person I was hoping to meet, went down the carpet, but didn’t come over. Ah well. I couldn’t really complain! Bryan Cranston also had been past at this point, and I’d not got him. Anyways, next to come over was the star of The Martian, Matt Damon! He was as nice as he’d been at the premiere of The Martian (another one I need to write up!). Matt signed an index card for me and posed for a quick photo.

Will Poulter soon followed, and was as nice as always. He signed an index card for me and posed for a photo with me. I loved We’re the Millers, somewhere I have a premiere ticket from it signed by Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston, but could I find it for the BAFTAs? Of course not!

The Devil Wears Prada and Hunger Games actor Stanley Tucci was next to come over. He signed my DVD sleeve of The Devil Wears Prada (which sadly smudged in the process), and posed for a photo with me.

Another Star Wars The Force Awakens actor came over next, Domhnall Gleeson. He was really quick, but signed an index card for me.

Douglas Booth, on the promotional trail for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies soon followed. He signed an index card and posed for a photo with me. I’ve since given the index card to my friend who didn’t get him on the red carpet.

Luther star Idris Elba was next to come over. He signed an index card and posed for a photo with me too. I’d not met Idris before, so I was glad he came over. His Luther co-star Warren Brown was with him, so I got an index card signed by him.

Idris was the last person I met, that was that. I missed a few people, and some I didn’t see at all, but it was certainly a successful evening! I just wish I’d managed to get my photo order done in time – the perils of going away on holiday and forgetting to order some before leaving! I has missed Bel Powley, but my friend who I gave a few of my spares to had managed to get her, and gave me the index card. Thanks Amber!

Spending Valentine’s Day with Alicia Vikander, it could have been worse!

Posted by: James Rhodes | January 2, 2016

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 UK Premiere

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 UK Premiere

Thursday 5 November 2015

So, yes, this post is a little bit late. Well, I guess it’s actually very late. But the past couple of months have flown by on me, and I’ve really not had time to write many of these posts. But better late than never! For three years running, early November meant only one thing: standing in the freezing cold in Leicester Square to try and meet my favourite actress Jennifer Lawrence – 2013 for the very wet premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and last year for the much drier premiere of Mockingjay Part 1, also known as the greatest evening ever, where I met all of the attending cast, and got a photo with Jennifer. She is one of my favourite actresses (and I definitely have a soft spot for her), especially after seeing Silver Linings Playbook, which I still think is the best film of 2013.

Anyways, this time was the premiere for the final installment in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay Part 2. Just like last year I took a day off work and headed over to Leicester Square, met a few friends and let the waiting game begin. Unlike last year, this time round it was not dry. To say it rained was an understatement. Hours and hours of waiting in the pouring rain, huddled under umbrellas, trying to keep dry. The forecast didn’t show any signs of it stopping, and at points I was contemplating going home as it looked pointless being there. The warm-up DJ tried (and succeeded) to build up the atmosphere despite the weather, with the whole of the red carpet doing the Mockingjay salute over and over. Somehow, the premiere Gods were looking down on us – about five minutes before the arrivals started, the rain stopped. Five solid hours of rain and it stopped just at the perfect moment!

I wasn’t near where people were being dropped off, so other than for watching on the big screen and listening to Edith Bowman announce who was here, there was no way of knowing who was arriving until they were within vision. First to get to us was the film’s director, Francis Lawrence. At the past two premieres I’d not got to meet Francis, so I was pleased when he came over. He kindly signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo too.

Francis was followed by the star of films including M*A*S*H, Don’t Look Now, Steelyard Blues and Ordinary PeopleDonald Sutherland! President Snow himself took quite a while to sign a lot of autographs for people, including an index card for me. He also posed for a photo with me. Off to a good start!

Last year’s X Factor winner Ben Haenow came by, so I got an index card signed by him, and a quick photo with him too.

The film’s producer Nina Jacobson soon followed. I got an index card signed and a photo with her.

Julianne Moore, known for her roles in Still Alice, Boogie Nights, The End of the Affair, The Big Lebowski, Far from Heaven, The Hours, Hannibal, Children of Men and The Kids Are All Right was next to come over. As with the past two times I have met her Julianne was really friendly, and happily signed an index card for me, before posing for a photo too.

Straight behind Julianne was by Stanley Tucci aka Caesar Flickerman! The star of The Lovely Bones and The Devil Wears Prada was as friendly as always; he signed an index card for me before posing for a photo with me. It’s funny, I went years wanting to meet Stanley, and have met him six or so times over the past two years now! Sadly Stanley used his own pen which wasn’t of the best quality, but its better than nothing.

Star of Game of Thrones and The Tudors Natalie Dormer came over next. Natalie, who plays Cressida in the series, signed an index card for me and posed for a photo.

Olympic diver Tom Daley came by next. Whilst people were calling out for him, I was much happier that he was accompanied by his boyfriend, Oscar winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. Dustin, who wrote Milk and J Edgar happily signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo too.

I also got an autograph from and photo with Tom Daley.

They were followed by Effie Tinket, better known as Elizabeth Banks! Despite her reputation for not being the nicest person, Elizabeth signed loads of autographs and posed for photos with fans. In fairness to her, of the four times I have seen her, she has been nice three of those times. Elizabeth signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo too!

Newcomer to the series Gwendoline Christie was next to come over. The Game of Thrones star was lovely, and was happy to sign an index card for me, and to pose for a photo.

Gwendoline was followed by my favourite, the awesome Jennifer Lawrence. I know Jennifer hasn’t got the best reputation for signing, especially since the Oscar buzz from Silver Linings Playbook, but this was the fifth time I’ve been lucky enough to meet her, and each time she has always made a big effort to sign as many as she can. Each time she has moved pretty fast, and sometimes has barely put more than a line, but has done her best to sign as many as she can. As she gets closer, she’s a lot more rushed than last year (but then, it was never going to be calmer, I knew I wasn’t going to have time for someone to take a photo of us and for her to sign three things!). However, Jennifer did sign a photo for me, albeit not the right way up.

I think I again babbled about how much I love her and so on, and I asked if she’d pose for a quick photo. Joy of joys, she said yes! Again! I think I died with happiness. This time four years ago, I’d never have believed it if you’d said I’d now have three photos with my favourite, as well as seven autographs. Unreal!

Jennifer was shortly followed by Gale aka Liam Hemsworth. Liam has probably been the best signer at all four of the Hunger Games premieres, and this one was no exception. I think he pretty much signed for every person in Leicester Square! He signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo too.

Sam Claflin, who plays Finnick, soon followed. As I’ve said previously, I know Sam best for his role playing Duncan Edwards in United, in which is well worth a watch. Sam was as nice as ever; he signed an index card for me and posed for a photo too.

Josh Hutcherson aka Peeta came over a few minutes later, and was the last cast member to come over. Having missed Josh at the first two premieres, I’ve been lucky at the two Mockingjay premieres! He signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo too.

That, as they say was that. Another ridiculously fun evening, where it stayed dry for the 90 minutes it needed to. Sure enough, the rain started falling whilst I was on the way home. The premiere ended with the whole cast on a custom built stage in front of the cinema doors, and a pretty impressive fireworks display from the cinema roof. I’ve not seen anything like it before (well, since then something at the Star Wars The Force Awakens premiere has possibly beaten it).

A great set of four premieres, over four years, for four fantastic films. I’ll miss the fun and games (!) of the Hunger Games madness in Leicester Square, and my annual J Law fix!

Posted by: James Rhodes | December 12, 2015

The Danish Girl UK Premiere

The Danish Girl UK Premiere

Tuesday 8 December

If at the start of the year you’d asked me to name five people I’d most like to meet in 2015, Alicia Vikander would have been on that list. I think she is a fantastic actress and I definitely have a soft spot for her too. I’ve tried to meet Alicia three times over the past couple of years but have never been successful. So when it was announced that there’d be a UK premiere for The Danish Girl, I couldn’t miss out on going. Maybe it would be fourth time lucky!

I arrived in Leicester Square after work and met up with a couple of friends. Given the size of the set up, it was a pretty small crowd waiting, with the barrier only one person deep (if that) in places. It was pretty freezing, which made the wait seem even longer than it actually was, but after a while the arrivals started. Most of the cast and crew arrived within five minutes of each other, but as we were a bit down the red carpet luckily they had spread out a bit before getting to us.

First to come over was the film’s director, Tom Hooper. Tom was happy to sign and pose as usual; he signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo with me too. I love The Damned United, The King’s Speech and of course Les Miserables, so it is always nice to meet Tom.

Tom was followed by the film’s main star, Eddie Redmayne. The Oscar winning actor for The Theory of Everything spent a fair while meeting fans and signing autographs, and just seemed to be enjoying the evening. Eddie signed a Fantastic Beasts photo for me (for some reason it hasn’t scanned very well), and posed for a photo with me too.

Eddie also stopped for an interview pretty much straight in front of where we were waiting, so I got a couple more photos of him.

A couple of minutes later, the person I was there to meet came over, the beautiful Alicia Vikander! Eeeek! She was really friendly, and thanked us for coming out in the cold. She looked absolutely beautiful! Alicia kindly signed and dedicated a photo for me.

I then asked her for a photo, and she was more than happy to pose for one. Considering it’s at a premiere, I think this has come out pretty well! Happy James!!

I look so happy in that photo! I also got some photos of Alicia talking to the press.

Belgian actor and Far From the Maddening Crowd star Matthias Schoenaerts came over next. He signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo too.

The Golden Compass and Skins star Dakota Blue Richards was a surprise guest on the red carpet. She signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo too.

Actress Jemima Rooper, best known for her roles in Kinky Boots, One Chance, Atlantis and for her theatre work was also a guest. She too signed an index card and posed for a photo with me.

And that was that! A pretty fun premiere, and I’m still super chuffed I finally got to meet Alicia Vikander!

Posted by: James Rhodes | December 10, 2015

Tina Fey

Tina Fey

Thursday 10 December

Three years ago I was introduced to the amazingness that is 30 Rock, the NBC comedy created, starring and produced by Tina Fey, based loosely on her experiences of working on Saturday Night Live. I love the show; with the exception of Parks and Recreation it’s my favourite. I’ve been to New York three times over the past three years, and each time visiting 30 Rockefeller Plaza has been one of the highlights, and each time I dreamt of meeting Liz Lemon. Last year I even took a trip across to the Silvercup Studios, just to see where the show was filmed.

Up until last month I’d not met any of the cast, but whilst in the States I got to meet Scott Adsit (Pete) and John Lutz (Lutz) in New York, and Judah Friedlander (Frank) in Boston. But meeting Tina would be the dream. She’s not been in the UK as far as I know for five years, so when it was announced that she would be over to promote her & Amy Poehler‘s film Sisters, I knew I had to try and meet her. So much so I took a day off work to try. I’ve never done that before. For anyone.

I knew of two interviews she was to be recording, and of “an exclusive secret Q&A” she’d be doing. I just didn’t know where the Q&A was taking place. I also knew a lot of people would know about the interviews, but didn’t think they would about the Q&A, so I was pretty sure that’d be the best shot. After extensive searching online and on social media, I found a clue of the location. I decided there was no harm in having a look, as it was pretty much on my way to the first interview location. I got there, and there was, well, nothing. A nondescript building that didn’t stand out as a Q&A location, and no fans or PAs outside. After 10 minutes or so, a car pulled up and waited outside. Sure enough, after a 15 or so minute wait, out walked Liz Lemon herself, Tina Fey! With just me waiting! Meeting one of my comedy heroes one on one. I think I died inside. I’m not often starstruck, but I definitely was right at that moment. I think I babbled about how big a fan I am, and asked for a photo with her, which she agreed to. Happy James!!

I also got my 30 Rock boxset signed, which Judah, Scott and John had previously signed. So happy, never thought it’d happen!

As an added bonus, 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live writer Paula Pell, who also wrote Sisters, was at the Q&A, so I got her to sign my boxset too, and got a photo with her. She also plays Pete’s wife in 30 Rock, and Ron Swanson’s mum in Parks & Rec. Pretty cool surprise!

With the exception of meeting Amy Poehler in July, this is my favourite meet of the year, hands down. Since I had the day off work, I headed over to the BBC studios where Tina was due for an interview. She’d already arrived when I did, but had said she’d sign for the people waiting on her way out (the majority of people were waiting for Kurt Russell). Sure enough Tina signed for everyone waiting when she left, and I got the box of the boxset signed and dedicated.

And that was that. Couldn’t have asked for a  better, calmer experience. I’m still on cloud nine! Five weeks ago I sat in Studio 8H of 30 Rock, the home of Saturday Night Live, thinking “maybe one day”. Never believed it would actually happen! Lemon Out!

Posted by: James Rhodes | September 26, 2015

Sicario UK Premiere

Sicario UK Premiere

Monday 21 September

Last Monday saw the UK premiere of Sicario, Denis Villeneuve‘s thriller which stars Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. Despite what can only be described at the worst weather I’ve seen in a while, I headed over to Leicester Square; Emily Blunt is one of my favourite actresses, and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is one of my favourite films. Plus who doesn’t love The Devil Wears Prada? I’d met Emily once before, but my photo with her didn’t focus, so I was looking forward to the chance to get another picture. Plus, I’ve never had the chance to meet Benicio before.

When I say the weather was bad, I really wasn’t joking. The red carpet was literally sodden, and the the rain had forced some of the premiere poster boards to start to disintegrate. It was ridiculous, and more annoyingly I didn’t have an umbrella. Although the one bonus was that there were very few people waiting in comparison to usual. I had been hoping to get my DVD sleeve of The Devil Wears Prada signed, but I wasn’t even going to attempt it in this rain.

Emily, Benicio and Denis arrived together, and Emily straight away started to sign autographs and pose for photos. She went along the entire length of the red carpet, chatting away and thanking people for staying out in the rain. Her sharpie wasn’t in great condition due to the weather, but she still signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo with me. It’s come out pretty well I think given the rain!

Denis walked past without many people calling for him, and I didn’t get his autograph. A surprise guest in the form of Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond arrived, and was happy to pose for a quick photo when I called him over. I LOVE Top Gear, and haven’t met Richard for over five years, so I was very happy! Given the rain I didn’t try to get an autograph.

Benicio Del Toro also was going down the line signing autographs and posing for photos. To start with he was even holding his own umbrella, and when it was getting in the way of him meeting fans, he simply went along and joined the fans in getting soaked. I’ve not seen that from a Hollywood star before! The star of films including Traffic, Che, Sin City and Guardians of the Galaxy signed an index card for me (even though the weather meant the card got a bit damaged), and posed for a photo with me. This makes it clear just how wet it was!

I’m a bit disappointed he’s not looking at the camera, but given the circumstances I’m certainly not complaining! Despite the weather it was a successful evening, getting to meet Emily is never a bad day!

Posted by: James Rhodes | September 26, 2015

The Martian European Premiere

The Martian European Premiere

Thursday 24 September

Premieres seem to be like buses, you wait ages for one to come and then they just don’t stop! Thursday saw my fourth trip to Leicester Square in the space of a week, this time for the European Premiere of Ridley Scott‘s latest film, The Martian. It has a stellar cast including Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Chiwitel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Kate Mara and Jeff Daniels. The majority of the cast were due to attend alongside Ridley, so I had to go along. I’d never met Matt before, and am never going to say no to the chance to meet Zoe Barnes from House of Cards!

I headed over to Leicester Square from work and met a few friends. The red carpet looked pretty awesome and unlike my previous visit three days ago, the skies were clear! A massive stage had been built for interviews which was pretty cool. After a while the arrivals started, and carried on coming! Literally as soon as one person had got out of their car, another one was waiting! I was a fair bit down the carpet from where people were being dropped off, but from the big screen it seemed that everyone was signing to some extent. The premiere also gave me a chance to play around with my new long-lens camera for a second time in Leicester Square!

I can’t remember precisely the order in which people arrived, so will just focus on the order they got to where I was. First to come over was Chinese actress Chen Shu. I think this is her first Hollywood film, and she seemed a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience, but still signed an index card and posed for a photo with me.

She was followed by the star of films including Lord of the Rings, Golden Eye, Troy and of course Game of Thrones, Sean Bean. Sean was as nice as he had been when I met him in 2013, and happily signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo too.

Ridley Scott had been signing a few autographs further down the barrier, but was taken away to do press interviews. He never came back to sign any more, which was a shame. Although I have met him once before, so I wasn’t too worried! Kristen Wiig was doing press interviews too, but her PA motioned that she would come over to sign once done. Kate Mara was next to come along the carpet, but wasn’t signing for anyone, instead it looked like she was going to go straight to do interviews.. but then she relented and came straight over to where I was! Eeek!! Kate was pretty quiet, but the House of Cards and Fantastic Four star signed and dedicated an index card for me, and kindly posed for a photo too! Happy James!!

Dumb and Dumber star Jeff Daniels went along doing press interviews, and maybe signed 10 autographs just beyond where I was on the carpet, but he didn’t sign many and sadly didn’t come to where I was. I was hoping to get my DVD sleeve for Dumb and Dumber signed, but alas it wasn’t to be.

True to her word, Kristen Wiig came back to sign for people, which was really nice of her. However, she came over at the precise same time as Matt Damon! Since I’d not met Matt before, I focused on him. I have always heard good stories about the star of Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan, Invictus, the Oceans films and the Bourne films, and he carried on to his good reputation in Leicester Square. Matt was quite quick so as to try and meet as many people as he could, but was still personable. He signed and dedicated an index card for me, and also posed for a photo which I think has come out really well!

I missed out on Kristen, who in fairness signed for a lot of people, it was just bad timing that she came over at the precise same time as Matt where I was. However, I’ve met her in the past, so I wasn’t too worried. I did manage to get a couple of photos of her signing and doing press interviews, though.

Next to come by was a surprise guest, Taron Egerton from Kingsman: The Secret Service, Testament of Youth and the upcoming Eddie the Eagle. Taron posed for a photo with me, and signed an index card too.

The ever-lovely Jessica Chastain soon followed. I wanted to meet Jessica for ages, and have now met her five times in the past 12 months! She signed an index card for me, and posed for a photo too. The Help is still one of my favourite films of the past few years, and I’ve been lucky enough to get Jessica to sign my DVD sleeve of it and a photo from it in the past.

The final person to come over to sign was 12 Years A Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor. He too was as nice as ever and signed my 12 Years A Slave DVD sleeve, as well as posing for a photo with me. Twice I’ve met Chiwetel this month!

And that was that! I missed a couple of people, but was really pleased to meet Matt and Kate. Four good premieres in a row, I wonder if the next one tomorrow (The Intern) will continue in this pattern!

Posted by: James Rhodes | August 9, 2015

Sinatra: The Man & His Music Press Night

Sinatra: The Man & His Music Press Night

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get a free ticket for the press night of Sinatra: The Man & His Music at the London Palladium, based on the life and music of, you guessed it, Frank Sinatra. I had no idea who would be the celebrity guests for the evening, but was hoping to be sharing the audience with a couple of good people!

I arrived, met a friend, picked up the tickets, and waited to see who would arrive. It was pretty impossible to get near people as they arrived, but it gave an idea of who to look out for afterwards (or even inside).

First to arrive was Frank’s daughter and fellow singer, Nancy Sinatra. She posed for the photographers waiting, but didn’t sign anything.

She was followed by former Doctor Who star Sylvester McCoy. I’d never met Sylvester before, so was hoping I’d get to bump into him afterwards.

A couple of lesser celebrities also arrived (including Lesley Joseph, Anneka Rice, Owen Teale from Game of Thrones and Paula Wilcox), but I didn’t try to get an autograph from them. It was getting close to the time when we needed to be seated when Stevie Van Zandt, best known as a member of Bruce Springsteen‘s E Street Band and as a cast member of The Sopranos arrived. Wow! I was so excited at the prospect of meeting him afterwards!

We decided to head inside and take our seats. The show was really good, nothing beats archive footage of Frank Sinatra singing My Way in the London Palladium! At the end, Nancy Sinatra came on and gave a really nice speech all about her dad, and how much the show meant for her.

Since he was sitting only 7 or 8 rows ahead of me, I decided that I’d focus on trying to meet Stevie Van Zandt as he left. I didn’t want to stop him inside the theatre, but as soon as he got to the main doors I asked if he’d mind signing an autograph, and he was happy to oblige! I love Bruce Springsteen, and his live album from Hammersmith Odeon in 1975 is one of my all time favourite CDs!

I also spotted Sylvester McCoy leaving, and he was happy to sign an autograph and to pose for a photo.

Just as I was leaving, I saw Paula Wilcox waiting for her taxi, so I got a quick autograph from her too.

And that was that. A fun evening at the theatre, and a member of the E Street Band to top it off!

Posted by: James Rhodes | August 9, 2015

London Film & Comic Con

London Film & Comic Con

I’ve never really understood the concept of a convention, it’s just something that has never appealed to me. I can see why people are drawn to them, but I guess living in London I’ve never thought about paying for an autograph or a photo with someone. Especially with some of the prices charged. However, a friend of mine chose to come down to London for this year’s London Film and Comic Con a couple of weekends ago, so I decided to join him. He kindly paid for my ticket to get in, so I was going with an open mind, as it was a free experience for me.

We met up and headed over to Olympia, arriving 90 minutes before the doors opened, and the queues were already insane. I’ve never seen anything like it. Once inside, my opinion of the day wasn’t getting any better – it was ridiculously hot and there seemed to be way more people than the venue should hold inside. But … after a while, I sort to understand the appeal of these things. People dressed up as all sorts of characters, having fun… I guess just how my fun is meeting friends outside the BBC or at a premiere, for some people it’s at conventions. Which is great. Plus,

Whilst I didn’t spend any money, my friend did buy an autograph from all of the Back to the Future cast that were there, except for Christopher Lloyd (who he’d met before) and Michael J Fox, because £425 is just silly, even if it was for a good cause. More so when he signed everything and anything outside his hotel during the weekend. Although I didn’t get any autographs, I did manage to get photos with most of the BTTF cast that my friend paid for, including

Lea Thompson (Lorraine)

Donald Fullilove (Mayor Goldie Wilson)

Harry Waters Jr (Marvin Berry)

Marc McClure (Dave McFly)

Jeffrey Weissman (George McFly)

Ricky Dean Logan (

My friend also met Claudia Wells (Jennifer), James Tolkan (Mr Strickland) and Frances Lee McCann (Stella), but I didn’t get photos with them.

I also got a photo with author Charlie Higson.

So, yeah, I enjoyed the day, minus for the stiffling heat inside Olympia. But I still would never pay for an autograph or photo at an event like this, but I guess maybe that is just me.

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