From early yesterday morning I've been getting queries, from loved ones and strangers, regarding the whereabouts of "the Paris piece". The first thought was "Paris piece?! You're actually requesting an article about the simpHilton?" until I remembered I'd just flown back from Paris (the city in France) at 11pm the prior night. After repeatedly stating there wouldn't be a "Paris piece" until the time to go through two hours of recorded interviews with the cast was put aside, I kept getting "but can you not just tell us what it was like?!" So, here's a minute by minute account of what it was like. It's unintentionally long so you might want to print it off and read it on the way home (assuming you're not driving), or while you're on the jacks (a pastime my brother-in-law has jovially admitted to). The actual interviews will appear in Features on Wednesday.
After slithering down the Champs-Elysees for 15 minutes - enviously eyeballing people relaxing outisde eateries - I burst through the doors of Hôtel Marignan at 11.33pm on Monday night, into the welcoming coolness of the reception (it was 30 degrees outside). Feeling slightly embarrassed by the fringe plastered to my forehead, especially since there's very well groomed individuals breezing about the place. The lovely man behind the reception gives me a pitying look and immediately starts speaking in English.
11.44pm: After worming along several meters of narrow plush corridor, I arrive at room 705 to enter what can only be described as an insane asylum for Holly Hobby dolls. The walls, instead of being wallpapered, are covered in a padded material embossed with a hectic motif of large birds and a woodland scene, which is repeated every 6 inches across all surfaces, including the curtains and headboard. Immediately head over to open the curtains to break up the madness. Fling open the double doors leading onto a wee balcony. There's a flash, a peal of thunder, and the sky unleashes a solid wall of rain. Stand there for a few moments, drinking in just was a privileged wagon I am at that very moment. There's another rumble, this time further south. Locate room service menu and marvels at the price of a ham and cheese sandwich (€18). Order sandwich.
00.10: Still no sandwich. Consider repercussions of eating cheese so late. Also consider taking off make up as really tired but don't want to scare the sandwich bearer - especially since I need them to show me how to call a French mobile from the room (I've just after opening an envelope saying I've to be at The Plaza at 9.40am, which is a bit scary considering I was told 1.00pm.)
00.15: Sandwich arrives. It looks far prettier than it tastes. Decide to Google Christian Bale's Good Morning America interview. Get as far as inputting "Christian Bale Go-" when the following options pop up: Christian Bale goes nuts // Christian Bale goes mental // Christian Bale goes apesh*t // Christian Bale goes ballistic... Start to feel nervous. Watch all video interviews involving Bale, Moon Bloodgood ('Blair'), Bryce Dallas Howard ('Kate Connor'), Anton Yelchin ('Kyle Reese'), and director McG.
01.30: Shimmy into bed after dismantling the array of cushions and wrestling the duvet from under the mattress. An hour later, I check the time. This is repeated at 03.40am, 05.45am and 06.50am. Give up at 07.30am. Start to rewrite questions.
08.30am: Wake up with a start at a knock on the door. "Room service!" Momentarily forget I ate the ham and cheese sandwich and get excited. Get even more excited when a tray filled with pastries makes its way into the room.
9.00am: Confirm that check in for the interviews is in 40 minutes. Fling self into shower; giggle nervously at the state of the room; organise late check out as no time to pack.
9.32am: Storm purposefully down the corridor to lift. Lift arrives when the absence of my notes is noticed. Lift trundles off as I weave back down the corridor like a demented to retrieve notes from room.
9.42am: Arrive at the hospitality suite at The Plaza which has no windows and has been made to resemble a fallout bunker. Visibility nil. Not at all intimidating wandering around, nearly bumping into other journalists (about 30 in total). Pick up what looks like water but turns out to be some disturbing, non-alcoholic limonchello.
10.00am: Herd off to room 109 where I meet the five other journalists participating in the round table interview. There are two seats left; one down the end of the table and one beside the seat where the "talent" will be sitting. I opt for the closer seat, citing my feeble dictaphone as the reason. A Dutch gentleman is quick to point out "She jusht wants to shit in hish layp!" Not quite, but he's almost right. Feel inferior by the banter about their recent interviews in Cannes. Check to see if said dictaphone is working (just like I'd done several times the night before). It's dead. Freak out internally. Politely ask everyone for an AAA battery. Thankfully the Dutch Dude has one.
10.05am: McG bounds into the room, dressed in a cream suit and blue shirt. He's of slight build, with russety hair and immediately apologises for sweating ("I've just been to the gymnasium!") We set about introducing ourselves. I just say my name, while the rest of the pack also mention where they are from. I feel like a total novice. For the purposes of this preamble, they will be known as The Dutch Dude (mid-fifties. "My firsht interview wash wit Tom Hanksh for Big"); The Man From Brussels (early forties. Kept banging on about Cannes); Maria from Barcelona (early sixties, warm smile), Pretty German Girl (exactly that); and The Mute from Switzerland (seriously, all she said was "and I am from Switzerland". She also resembled a 60-year-old potato). When I later say "Oh, and I'm from Ireland", McG replies "You'd never know". He talks about his Irish roots and then curses the heaviness of the suit, saying "I just wanted to look my best for the press!" He's nervous. So much so he starts talking about the now infamous Bale rant without any prompting. More about that on Wednesday.
10.25am: McG is replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard (director Ron Happy Days Howard's daughter, for those who don't know). She's a WHIPPET. Like, McG, when I introduce myself, she says "Ireland? You'd never know. HAH! We could be sisters!" (if I dropped two stone, perhaps) In the 20 minutes we're in her company, the topics range from sun screen; pregnancy; Lars von Trier; her aspirations to be a comedian; and the short film she just directed. I refrain from asking her what it's like having The Fonz as a Godfather. If I'd managed to get a word in (Dutch Dude and The Man From Brussels were monopolizing the proceedings. In fact, the three other women hardly opened their mouths), she probably would've answered in the gracious way she answered all the questions.
10.45am: Bryce departs and we have a gap before the next actor appears. Maria from Barcelona mumbles: "I wonder who it will be next... the girl or the boy." It's "the girl". Moon Bloodgood sweeps into the room sporting jeans, a sheer black shirt and a black bra. A cross between Angelina Jolie and Tia Carrere. I get the distinct feeling no one else in the room had bothered coming up with questions for her, so I jump in with one about the ridiculous arc of her character. I fail to absorb her answer as her right breast is just shy of winking at us. She then speaks of her true love (music - she's a rawk chick), how she fell into acting, the inadvertent yet latent racism in Hollywood, and how her father's half Irish and half Dutch. This causes the Dutch Dude to nearly combust with enthusiasm and hijack the conversation for an unseemly amount of time. Maria from Barcelona roles her eyes.
11.10am: A bleary-eyed Anton Yelchin shuffles into the room, quite naturally wearing a hat he robbed off The Preacher from Poltergeist. He's clutching an energy drink and looks like he'd been from his bed untimely ripped. He's also wearing a long gold chain. He looks like a child who was let loose in the props department. As it turns out, he's an old soul in a recently adolescent body. I instantly warm to him when he responds to the introductions with "HI... HI... HI... HI... HI... HI... and I'm Bryce Dallas Howard." He talks of his band; looks a little uncomfortable when I ask him about the short films he posts on YouTube which involve him pole dancing; looks even more uncomfortable when the Dutch Dude says "You musht be a great dishapointment to your parentsh" (who are professional ice dancers and hoped Anton might follow in their footsteps. Instead he's been in two of the biggest blockbusters this year; the second one being Star Trek - he plays Chekov); but relaxes a little when he opens up about his love of arthouse and "dicking around with Sam Worthington" (who plays Marcus). But he wouldn't "dare dick around with Christian Bale." He has "too much respect for him."
11.30am: And on to the main event. I'd a feeling we'd be the last to get our mitts on Bale. There's something exceptionally surreal about watching Bruce Wayne strutting towards you with a big grin on his face. Wearing a simple black shirt and jeans, he gives off a chilled energy. Once in the room, the Dutch Dude decides to forgo introductions and just starts barking on about something or other, but he's swiftly shouted down by The Man From Brussels - "INTRODUCTIONS FIRST!". And so it begins: "Hi, I'm Sheena and I'm from Ireland." "You'd never guess, Sheena"... The urge to reach over and squeeze the bicep straining under the black material is overwhelming. That aside, he is an amiable, remarkably relaxed, stunning creature who cradles his head in his hands when questioned about his reluctance to take the role of John Connor, and beams from ear to ear when asked what it was like to work with Michael Mann (on the soon to be released Public Enemies). His is the shortest of all the interviews, 14 minutes to be exact, which possibly highlights the dubious level of questioning on display; "Can you tell us a little bit about John Connor's voice" being one. The Man From Brussels has a small knickerfit over the brevity ("14 minutes?! He was the ONE I flew over to INTERVIEW!") but is swiftly distracted by the promise of a goodie bag. (Which I'm going to give away to the first person who admits they read this far!)
11.50am: With the interviews over, I sidle past the herd of journalists huddled at the Plaza's front door for fear of going out into the rain. I step into it with ease, with Maria from Barcelona bellowing "She's used to it, eh!" I'll spare you the rest of the day in Paris ('cause THAT would be long winded), suffices to say I was brought back home with a bang when my taxi man from Dublin airport turned out to be a total headbanger with the MADDEST voice. It sounded like there were three people in him trying to escape. When not nattering away to himself, he was whistling and "Parpy doo doopy doooing" out of him. Only in Ireland would you find yourself being chauffeured home by what sounds like a steam kettle violating a whoopie cushion.
Again, congrats for reading all of this. The interviews, which are bound to be as long, will be coming your way on Wednesday.