By Kim Choe
After much fanfare and preparation, the world premiere of The Hobbit finally kicked off.
Director Peter Jackson was the first of the cast to hit the red carpet – for good reason.
“I wanted to get here and spend as much time as I could signing autographs and meeting the fans,” he said.
Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins in the film, but Sir Peter almost missed out on his star.
“I spoke to the studio and we did something pretty radical which is we shot for four months with Martin and then we had to let him go back to England to shoot the next series of Sherlock, and we actually shut down production for two months to let him go and shoot his show.”
And Freeman says he was impressed with the director.
“He’s a brilliant director, he’s a lovely man. And both of those things are very important when you’ve got to spend months with someone. He’s a good person and he’s extremely skilled at what he does.”
Andy Serkis has worked with Sir Peter since the first Lord Of The Rings film.
His character Gollum made an appearance on the red carpet this afternoon, saying he was glad to be back in Wellington.
“What can I say? Well precious, you can say, it’s nice to be back, isn’t it? Yessss,” he hissed.
A short time later, all eyes turned skyward for a few moments as the Hobbit-decorated plane made a very low flyover.
Also coming down the Middle Earth red carpet was Barry Humphries, who had a few words of warning about his role in the film.
“All I know is that it’s a nude scene, I’m totally naked and I’m not very attractive. In fact, I don’t think I’m going to get a lot of young female fans as a result of this film.”
Hugo Weaving said the premiere had the atmosphere of a public holiday, as thousands of fans turned out in full force – and full costume.
The film will be shown to 800 invited guests at the Embassy Theatre tonight, but everyone else will have to wait until the film’s official release on December 13.