The British premiere of Tolstoyan epic The Last Station filled the winter palace that is Curzon Mayfair with stars last night, among them Helen Mirren and newly-expecting couple James McAvoy and Ann-Marie Duff.
As the happy couple smiled for the cameras, Dame Helen put pay to those rumours linking her with the role of foul-mouthed monarch in a Quentin Tarantino medieval romp that, as fantastically demented as it sounds, sadly turns out to be a fiction. “It’s the first I’ve heard of it and I’m sure it’s the first Quentin Tarantino has heard of it because I was with him two days ago and he didn’t mention it.”
In The Last Station, Mirren plays Sofya Tolstoy, wife of the Russian literary titan (and handy source of doorstops), with whom she shares a turbulent relationship and the affections of McAvoy’s naive secretary. “It’s a great script and great scripts are rare,” she enthused, before laughing that her next two roles – as an ex-Mossad agent in John Madden’s The Debt and ex- black ops agent in the soon-to-shoot comic-book adaptation Red – could turn her into “a geriatric action star”.
Duff dodged the press, but McAvoy stopped to rhapsodise about his character, Valentin Bulgakov. “I don’t think I’ve ever played a real person before, so to play someone who not only was real but who kept diaries every day of his life gave a real insight into how he felt.” There was no fresh news on the script for Wanted 2, though. McAvoy said that he last spoke to Timur Bekmambetov about the project on New Year’s Eve. So would there be another outing for the bullet-bending Wesley Gibson? “I don’t know, I hope so.”
Director Michael Hoffman brought the gala to a close with some warm words for his lead. “I was obsessed with McAvoy doing it after I saw The Last King Of Scotland. I don’t know what it is in him but audiences just fall in love with him - they’re willing to go wherever he wants to take them.”
The Last Station is out in cinemas from February 19.