Man about town: Want to spice up film premieres? Do a Coogan, and turn up in character

We all have to work harder for our money these days. Actors should too

Despite their veneer of glamour, film premieres can be dull and repetitive exercises for the regular premiere-goer.

All the actors, by and large, say the same thing: that they are so happy to be there, that they love London, who gave them a free dress for the night and that they loved the director/their co-stars/their character/the script (or all of the above). Saying this simultaneously fulfils their contractual obligation to sell the film, while justifying their role to themselves, just as they were wondering if they should be doing difficult theatre in an a disused industrial “space”.

It’s been widely reported that Alan Partridge had two premieres (tricky for grammar pendants, I know) for his film Alpha Papa this week. The first was in Norfolk’s Anglia Square and the second, after a helicopter ride, met the standard Leicester Square reception.

The very fact that it has been widely reported is saying something: it got more attention than most of your run-of-the-mill premieres. A large part of this was the fact that Steve Coogan turned up in character as Partridge, thus joining a small band of actors – such as Sacha Baron-Cohen, Will Ferrell and Tom Cruise (with his superhuman handshake sessions) – who attempt to engage the crowd beyond posing for a few photographs.

My cousin, who is a singer songwriter, and knows something of the arduous nature of promotion, thinks that all actors should have to perform their role while meeting the press at junkets. I think it should go even further, all the way to the premiere. There, all cast members present should be compelled to come in the full dress of their character: be they a maverick cop, a zany love-interest, or a violent cyborg from the 27th century.

They would be expected to answer questions in character and interact with their co-stars as though they were back at the beginning of the film. Even if that means the odd spear is thrown. Tickets could be sold just to stand outside, as watching them arrive would be theatre in itself.

Just as we all have to work harder for our money our money these days, so too, should leading ladies and gentlemen have to shout louder against competing diversions. And making them all arrive as their character would be a small way to stand out and help the film premiere regain its starry shine.

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