'We Bought a Zoo' Premiere Red Carpet Arrivals: Matt Damon, Cameron Crowe, Scarlett Johansson, Elle Fanning
10:20 PM PST 12/12/2011 by Rebecca Ford
It wasn’t so much a zoo as a circus on the red carpet outside of Ziegfeld Theatre on Monday, Dec. 12, when Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and director Cameron Crowe attended the New York premiere for 20th Century Fox's "We Bought a Zoo."
Matt Damon plays Ben Mee, who makes the unlikely decision to buy and restore a dilapidated zoo. Johansson takes on the role of Kelly Foster, an employee at the zoo. In a recent THR cover story, director Cameron Crowe revealed that he wooed Damon for the lead role with a CD of songs that he hoped would convey the feeling of the film he aimed to create.
Elle Fanning, who plays the 12-year-old cousin of Kelly (Scarlett Johansson), said she formed a lasting friendship with Johansson. "Scarlett and I still e-mail each other. We have a special bond," Fanning told THR on the red carpet at the premiere.
Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos and We Bought a Zoo director Cameron Crowe posed on the carpet at the premiere in New York. Crowe told THR about a special moment when they were filming the movie. "There was a scene with Matt [Damon] where the tiger was supposed to be lying down on its side, and it rose up in the scene, and it was a little angry, but Matt stayed in the scene and talked him down. I kept the scene in the movie, but the thing is with animals is you never know how it’s going to play out, but that’s the great thing about Matt -- he’s always ready to roll with the scene wherever it goes," said Crowe.
From left: Producer Julie Yorn, John Michael Higgins, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning, Scarlett Johansson, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Colin Ford, Matt Damon and Cameron Crowe pose on the carpet at the premiere for We Bought a Zoo.
Matt Damon stars as the lead character, Benjamin Mee, in the film. The actor told THR at the premiere that there was a certain animal he wasn't completely comfortable with on set -- ostriches. "They were like these really weird prehistoric creatures with tiny brains. They were just slightly terrifying," he said.
Thomas Haden Church told THR that owning a ranch in Texas helped him get into his role for the film. He plays Duncan Mee, the brother of Ben Mee (Matt Damon). "I’m not intimidated by animals anymore," Church told THR at the premiere. "I don’t want to get too friendly with a tiger, and I know to keep my distance."
Colin Ford plays Dylan, the son of Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon). When Dylan is expelled from school for theft, Benjamin quits his job at a Los Angeles newspaper and decides to move his family out of the city.
Benjamin Mee, whose real-life story was the inspiration for the film, attended the premiere with his children. What did Mee have to say about his first experience at a movie premiere? "There’s an astonishing amount of flashing. It is animalistic, it’s a real feeding frenzy. It’s like fish in a frenzy, it’s astonishing," Mee told THR on the carpet.
Patrick Fugit reunited with his Almost Famous director Cameron Crowe for We Bought a Zoo. Zoo is based on a memoir by Benjamin Mee, who used his life savings to buy a dilapidated zoo, replete with 200 exotic animals facing destruction, in the English countryside.
Scarlett Johansson wore a vintage Fred Leighton snake bracelet to the premiere as an homage to the film. Johansson told THR that one day during shooting, a lion would not perk up and look interested during a scene. "I looked behind me and the trainer was parading a zebra around back and forth, back and forth, and I’m watching this whole thing happen and the lion was like – whom! He was focused on the zebra. There were gasps everywhere," Johansson said.
Wendi Deng Murdoch, the wife of News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, attended the premiere for We Bought a Zoo. Wendi Murdoch was a part of her own three-ring circus when she intercepted comedian Jonnie Marbles' shaving cream pie that was aimed at her husband during a Parliamentary hearing related to News Corp.'s phone-hacking scandal back in July.