RT-UK Exclusive: Dragons invade London at "Eragon" Premiere

by | December 12, 2006 | Comments

The champagne flowed, the night was long, and a dragon flew about the Royal Courts of Justice. It could only have been the World Premiere of "Eragon," in London’s Leicester Square, and Rotten Tomatoes UK was there from the off; on the red carpet, at the pre-show cocktail party in the cinema and at the after-party at the aforementioned bastion of silly wigs.

Joining us on the guest list were a plethora of stars from the film and assorted Z-list Brittery affording us an opportunity to bump shoulders with the likes of Jeremy Irons, Robert Carlyle, Sienna Guillory, John Malkovich and, erm, Jono Coleman. But you can’t win ’em all.

But last night belonged to just one young man: Edward Speleers who plays the titular dragon-rider in the film. With friends, family and girlfriend in tow, he ran into us several times over the course of the evening, and each time we caught him with a slightly bigger grin on his face than the last. And yet as full of wide-eyed wonder as he might have been, when we finally harangued him into an interview there was no doubting how quickly he’d been picking up the craft. Though with Jeremy Irons at his side, that’s hardly surprising.

"It’s a one-off opportunity, basically, to work with someone like Jeremy," he told RT-UK, "and in many ways I guess I went to acting school. When you have Jeremy Irons playing your mentor you’re bound to learn a lot from him and he was a real father figure for me."

And for a good portion of filming he was alone on-screen with Irons; the addition of their third co-star, a twenty-foot dragon, to happen after shooting wrapped. Bringing Saphira to life might be one of the film’s proudest achievements, but getting to grips with the work-in-progress was a challenge, Speleers told us.

"It’s bizarre; it’s such an unnatural thing to be talking and acting with something that doesn’t exist" he said. "When you’re talking to a tennis ball it’s quite off-putting but then you realize, ‘Hang on, I’m working with this so-called tennis ball for months and months, I need to learn to enjoy it and to appreciate it.’ You go to the world of a nine year-old, basically, and just let your imagination go crazy and do the work for you."

Acting opposite an imaginary dragon didn’t present Speleers with his biggest challenge, though. That was reserved, he said, for working up the courage to watch the movie and brave the crowds at the premiere. "It’s overwhelming," he laughed. "I don’t think you can prepare yourself for this with the fans! But at the end of the day, I want to be an actor and it’s as simple as that. Everything else, if it comes with it, it’s a great bonus."

His co-star, the immensely beautiful Sienna Guillory, told RT-UK how impressed she was with Speleers’ natural gift for acting. "I did a film called "The Principles of Lust" before "Eragon" which is still one of my favourite acting experiences and most of the people were not actors and there was a genuine thing going on, you know, you can’t pretend," she told us, "And that’s what’s so brilliant about Ed’s talent; it’s raw and you don’t know what to expect."

And Ed wasn’t the only teenager to impress her in the "Eragon"-verse; the book’s young author, Christopher Paolini, is a prodigious talent, she says. "I was completely blown away by the book," she said, "I didn’t move for six hours; I just couldn’t put it down."

The party raged on until the early hours of this morning, the Royal Courts of Justice overtaken by giant projection screens throwing up clips from the film, a spotlight of a "Castlevania"-esque dragon-rider circling the hall and, naturally, a grand amount of media types. And we’re proud to report that we outlasted the best of them. Then woke up with very sore heads.

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