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Two days after it bowed in Los Angeles, Star Wars: The Force Awakens touched down in London for its European premiere, taking over the U.K. capital’s Leicester Square in a manner no film event has done before.
Giant screens dominated two sides of the central theater hub, while stars were brought in from both sides of a vast red carpet, lined with a thousand fans waving free Disney lightsabers and featuring a steady succession of Stormtroopers.The premiere itself took place in three of the square’s cinemas simultaneously.
Although the film was almost entirely shot in Pinewood Studios, just a few miles away from city, the London premiere proved especially poignant for its two newest lead stars.
“To be a Londoner and to be in London is very, very special,” said Daisy Ridley, adding that she thought both the London and Los Angeles premieres were comparable in size. “It’s good to be home.”
“I’m a Londoner. And I’m in Star Wars!,” bellowed John Boyega. “Honestly, for a guy from southeast London, I think I did alright.”
Boyega also revealed that when he heard he was going to star in the film he was actually crossing Leicester Square itself, a route he would frequently take on the way to acting auditions.
Even George Lucas, despite his lack of a British passport, spoke of his affinity for the U.K. thanks to his space epic.
“All of the premieres have always been in London,” he said. “It’s like coming home to an event we’ve done for the last 40 years, but this was the biggest by far.”
Arguably the most excitable attendee and yet another British addition to the Star Wars lineup was Gwendoline Christie, who offered a huge hug for J.J. Abrams.
Simon Pegg, whose role in the film had for so long been a secret, admitted that he played a “rather angry oaf,” while also claiming that his friend Abrams had “a lot of pressure on his shoulders” making The Force Awakens. “It’s a relief for him. He just wanted it to be good,” he said.
Another cast member forced to keep his identity hidden was Adam Driver, whose character’s Star Wars secret is only revealed about halfway through the film.
“I didn’t tell my wife for three years,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “But it was worth it to see her reaction when she eventually saw it.”
Oscar Isaac, meanwhile, admitted that “spilled the beans” to his family. “But I swore them to secrecy,” he said.
Other, non-Star Wars red carpet attendees included Benedict Cumberbatch, Noel Gallagher, Stephen Fry, Brian May, Brooklyn Beckham and his brother Romeo.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened wide across the U.K. on Thursday, with many cinemas offering screenings at 12.01 a.m. Advanced sales are thought to be well in excess of one million tickets, suggesting that the film has already earned in excess of $10 million in the country.
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