LAFF 2012: Woody Allen's 'To Rome With Love' Premiere Draws Penelope Cruz, Greta Gerwig

4:34 AM PST 06/15/2012 by Brandon Kirby, Gregg Kilday
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The director himself, venturing outside of his home turf of New York, was on hand to introduce his actresses.

Quintessential New Yorker Woody Allen might have ventured outside his natural element as he directed his latest film To Rome with Love, shot in the Eternal City, and then as he visited Los Angeles to take part in the film's U.S. premiere Thursday night when the movie screened as the opening night film of the Los Angeles Film Festival at the Regal Cinemas L.A. Live.

But he still seemed right at home.

With the film attracting an overflow crowd that spilled into a second room at the theater, Allen visited both auditoriums before the screenings began and was greeted by standing ovations. Introduced by LAFF artistic director David Ansen, Allen in turn introduced a number of the movie's castmembers, saying, "I'm always very lucky to get a great cast. If you cast very talented people, you get out of their way and don't screw them up, and they make you look like a hero, and then I take credit for it."

On hand were several of his latest muses: Penelope Cruz, Greta Gerwig, Alessandra Mastronardi and Simona Caparrini.

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Told afterwards that the audience appeared as excited to see him as to see the film itself, Allen responded, "I'm glad. It's a nice festival, and the projection here is wonderful. It was a pleasure to see the film projected that way."

Standing nearby at the after-party as Allen accepted congratulations, Sony Pictures Classcis co-president Michael Barker remarked, "Woody's having a good time. He's so amiable. It's great. He loves showing off his actors."

While a large section of the comedy, which also stars Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Judy Davis and Roberto Benigni appearing in four separate tales about love, mistaken identities and the pitfalls of celebrity, were shot on the streets of Rome, Allen said crowd control wasn't a problem even as they he filmed during the height of the summer tourist season. "In Italy, you can't tell whether there's crowd control or not," he joked. "That's the way they are, all the time. It's such a vibrant place, people are so used to living in the streets."

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On the way into the premiere, Cruz said of working with the Oscar-winning director, “I already knew the system, the way he works, which is very peculiar and different. I still bombard him with questions about the background of the character. I still worry when I was on the set. I always asked him for one more take. He’s always been very patient and gracious.”

It was Gerwig’s first time working with Allen, and she said she was overjoyed to have worked on the film. “It’s my favorite thing that’s ever happened to me in my life,” she said. “I love Woody Allen. I love his films.”

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Accompanied by her parents, the actress was seeing Rome for the first time, and afterwards she said with a smile, "My mother said Woody Allen made me look better than I do."

To Rome With Love opens in theaters on June 22.

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