Jimmy Nesbitt could hardly contain his excitement as he joined an all-star line-up to celebrate the world premiere of his latest movie, The Hobbit.
Middle Earth madness took over the New Zealand capital of Wellington as thousands of screaming Tolkien fans came out to mark the first viewing of the hugely anticipated Peter Jackson film.
Nesbitt, who plays Bofur the dwarf in the trilogy, was among the A-list stars who walked the red carpet at the Embassy Theatre, chatting to countless Press and fans who had shown up in costume to mark the release.
The 500m red carpet took the actors — including Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis — an estimated two hours to walk before they could settle down to the movie.
New Zealand is considered the home of The Hobbit movies, along with the Lord of The Rings trilogy, because most of its filming was done among its stunning terrain. Director Peter Jackson is also a proud New Zealander and promised to host the global premiere there, as he always did with Lord of the Rings.
Accompanied by his wife, Sonia, who was wearing an elegant cream dress, Nesbitt looked smart in a suit and tie as he walked along the red carpet.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key seemed impressed by the Co Antrim man, posting a photo of the pair chatting on Twitter.
“We had a fantastic time at The Hobbit — congratulations to everyone involved. I enjoyed meeting James Nesbitt, or Bofur,” the PM tweeted later.
Nesbitt also posed with co-star, Evangeline Lily, and was seen kissing Australian actor, Hugo Weaving, on the cheek.
The Coleraine man said spending time in the country to work on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey had changed his family’s life. He admitted while filming was challenging, it still “beats working for a living”.
“It's just so good to be back here. This wasn't just another job for me, this was a lifestyle — I brought my daughters here and it changed their lives,” he said. “They can’t wait to come back. To be back for this (the premiere) is sensational.”
Nesbitt described the massive welcome from an estimated 100,000 film fans as “extraordinary”. He also said New Zealand’s cultures were “rich and alluring” and its wines “rich and delicious”.
It's been almost 10 years since the last Rings film premiered and fans were delighted to see the stars playing new characters as well as the more familiar faces.
Cate Blanchett was dressed in a stunning floor-length gown as she attended with young son, Roman.
Sir Ian McKellen, better know as Gandalf, couldn't make the trip to New Zealand, but thanked fans for their enthusiasm via a video message.
Director Sir Peter Jackson said: “This is an incredible experience because you spend so long shooting a movie where you're just focusing on the film and you want to keep everybody out.
“And then suddenly one day you wake up and there's 100,000 people coming to celebrate.”
... tweet success for movie
By Claire Harrison
The Lord of the Rings trilogy scooped 17 Oscars in total — and smashed box offices around the world.
So the weight of expectation, like Gollum’s ring, must hang heavy around the neck of director Peter Jackson as Tolkien fans prepare to feast on the first of The Hobbit trilogy.
After a near 10-year break since the last Lord of the Rings movie, avid fans were eager for a return to Middle Earth.
And judging from the unofficial Twitter reviews emerging from those lucky enough to bag a ticket for the world premiere, Jackson has lived up to high Hobbit hopes.
US film director Bryan Singer was among the first to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and described it as “amazing and involving”.
“I loved it,” he added.
New Zealand MP Steven Joyce also tweeted his thoughts, describing it as a “masterful movie” and that it was a privilege to be at the premiere.
Entrepreneur Seeby Woodhouse posted that the film was “awesome”.
Blogger Kylie Klein tweeted that The Hobbit was “everything I could have hoped for. Perfection”, and added that Jackson and screenwriter Fran Walsh got a standing ovation at the showing.
Another ticket-holding tweeter, Carter Nixon, added that the atmosphere in the theatre was “great” and that “everyone seemed to have loved it”.