Welcome To The BAFTAs
Celebrities abound in Covent Garden
With Covent Garden awash with celebrities it was almost as if every premiere had come at once this evening. Once again at London’s Royal Opera House, the BAFTAs kicked off amid much fanfare and shimmering designer frocks as all of this year’s nominees and associated hangers on glided down a red carpet bordered by droves of highly enthusiastic and quite possibly dangerous fans.
First to arrive was Ricky Gervais, who was greeted by so many bellows of “Riiiiiiicky!” it felt like Mike Reid might have returned from the dead. The barrage of wailed adoration continued as the likes of Eddie Izzard and Andy Serkis joined Gervais in running the autograph gauntlet, although this reporter died a little inside when fans began screaming “show me the money!” to a bewildered Cuba Gooding Jr – come on people, Jerry Maguire was nearly 12 years ago.
The always awesome Amanda Peet arrived next (we loved you in Studio 60!) alongside with and one of the night’s nominees, her fiancée and The Kite Runner screenwriter David Benioff. “We’re completely freaking out,” she told a line-up of uncharacteristically dapper press, whose threadbare jeans and donkey jackets had been the first casualty of this year’s new journalist dress code. “We’re in the same hotel as Julie Christie and Daniel Day Lewis, we’re going to sneak around the halls later and see if we can find them – that sounded really creepy didn’t it?”
“You know, I used to be a street performer round the back there so it’s a bit weird to be here for the BAFTAs,” revealed a nostalgic Izzard. I’m presenting the animation award tonight so I’ll be giving that away… as long as people are nice to me. All creative people have egos as big as planets so it’s nice to come out on nights like this and pat each other on the back.”
Jeff Goldblum and Kevin Spacey arrived together – the pair are currently co-starring in David Mamet’s Speed The Plough at the Old Vic (tickets on sale now, in case you’re interested). “I’m the most excited that I can be - possibly the most excited I’ve ever been,” said Goldblum, holding his hand to head-height to indicate the sheer level of his enthusiasm. “How excited are you?” All said while wearing sunglasses. At night. This is a man so cool he could single-handedly reverse global warming.
Director Joe Wright arrived sporting similarly tinted eyewear but we’re sorry to say he couldn’t pull it off nearly as well as Goldblum. His stars, on the other hand were entirely spec-free. “Atonement’s got 14 nominations, which is great. Plus we’re in Britain and it’s a British film so it’s a very exciting night,” said Keira Knightley, up for Best actress for her part in the film. “I didn’t think I’d ever get nominated for a BAFTA - it’s so exciting. There’s some really amazing talent coming out of Britain at the moment and it’s important to have nights like this that recognise that.”
“What has been heartening this year is that films like Control and No Country For Old Men and Atonement have been viewed in great numbers by the public,” commented Knightley’s co-star James McAvoy. People haven’t just gone to see Transformers. It’s been a good year for intelligent films on both sides of the Atlantic.”.
The uber-glamorous BAFTA makeover wasn’t lost on Daniel Day Lewis, returning this year to make a bid for Best Actor for his part in There Will Be Blood “This whole event has been genetically modified since I was here last,” he marvelled. “It’s been pumped full of something, I don’t know if it’s legal.”
If the sheer number of famous faces was anything to go by, we’re saying it’s almost certainly not. Eva Green, Sienna Miller, Kate Hudson, Natascha McElhone, Thandie Newton and a blonde and beautiful Jessica Biel were just a few of the lovely ladies on display. Representing the Y Chromosome contingent, Orlando Bloom, Javier Bardem, Hugh Laurie, Jason Isaacs, Daniel Radcliffe and Viggo Mortensen were all in attendance.
As the hour drew near, the last of this year’s hopefuls disappeared into the auditorium, with spirits high. Some will end this night drinking from the cup of glory and basking in the adoration of their peers. Others, though, will spiral into a trough of rejection and degradation, their evening scarred by the cruel sting of televised humiliation. Be sure to check back at 9pm on the dot to find out who ended up with a dose of which.
To read our minute-by-minute blog of the BAFTA ceremony, click here.