Picture this: Monday morning. Half asleep. Arrive in Soho. Walk into venue and head down stairs. Hear decidedly menacing heavy breathing. Jump out of skin as 7ft tall Darth Vader looms out of nowhere, closely followed by two gun-toting Stormtroopers…
DVD press junkets. Gotta love ’em!
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith is out on 31 October and, as Fox are cripplingly afraid of DVD piracy, they won’t send check discs out to us humble reviewers for fear we’ll copy them, whip them onto eBay and retire to the Bahamas with the proceeds. Which means that we have to go to these screenings instead, watching the DVD extras (or “value added material”, as they’re boringly called in the industry) in the space of a few hours – often when we should be chained to our desks, so I certainly never complain about it.
Film companies often roll out guest stars, too. This time we got Star Wars producer Rick McCallum, always a good laugh and ever-willing to swear and make you wonder if his best mate George Lucas uses the “F”-word, too. Then there was Rob Coleman, animation supervisor on the prequels, who admitted, rather endearingly, that he had insomnia for three months after he got the job because he was so terrified of letting down Star Wars fans around the world. Poor chap!
Next up was Ian McDiarmid, who was friendly and professional and not at all Emperor-like, though my stomach did a little roll when he sat in front of me because, hell, I was scared of Palpatine when I was 12 and there he was, two feet away! And finally Hayden Christensen appeared, his clothes in dire need of an iron but with a grin firmly plastered on his face as though he wanted to prove to us that he’s not as miserable as Anakin Skywalker.
I asked him if he’d found himself going: “Wommmmm! Mmmmmm! Wommmmm!” the first time he’d picked up a lightsaber. And apparently he did. He even did an impression. He’s pretty good, actually. (“I’ve been practising,” he admitted, guiltily.)
Sadly, I can’t discuss the DVD extras themselves because Fox made me sign an embargo form – if I tell anyone what I saw before the DVD release date, they’ll come round to my place, encase me in carbonite and sell my pets into slavery on Tatooine. Bugger. I am reviewing them in the next SFX, however – though fitting them all into such a small space was a bit of a tall order…
Speaking of tall, did I mention that I had my picture taken with Darth Vader? Only on my cameraphone, but it was a hilarious fangirl moment. I have no idea what he looked like under the costume – possibly Ann Widdecombe, for all I knew – but he had a lovely firm waist. Not bad, Mr Sith Lord.
Oh, and as one of the DVD documentaries was screening I decided I needed to visit the bathroom. As I walked into the ladies, Darth Vader and his two Stormtroopers watched me intently… and then watched me walk out again, as though they thought I was smuggling Death Star plans in my handbag or something.
It was quite off-putting, I have to admit.