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Big Willy Makes Film History at The Printworks!

Published on February 23rd 2005.

Manchester turned into Big Willy-Style pandemonium yesterday as one of the world’s biggest movie stars arrived in the snow swept city.

Will Smith arrived in a bid to make movie history by attending three film premieres in the same day, kicking off the triangular tour in our fair city.

The Printworks made its own mark on the landmark day as it hosted the premiere of Smith’s new film ‘Hitch’, creating a superb atmosphere of anticipation rarely seen in Manchester, hours before the star arrived. The red carpet was laid in preparation with Galaxy FM's Breakfast crew ready to provide the entertainment.

Hundreds of screaming fans crammed themselves into the Pumpyard area of the Printworks and the numbers were such that the crowds overflowed onto the streets outside.

The fans were ready for the star’s arrival at 12pm, although Galaxy FM’s entertainment team informed the crowd - who were now adorned in ‘Hitch’ hats and t-shirts to make Smith feel at home - that the star had only just touched down at Manchester Airport in his private jet and would soon be hot-tailing it down the M56 surrounded by a police escort – sounds like something out of Bad Boys.

The crowd’s thirst for some star spotting was firmly quenched by a succession of celebs making their way down the red carpet and into thefilmworks for the big premiere – Hollyoaks stars, Paddy McGuinness and the Corrie girls and some bloke from a basketball team - all walking the walk, past the paparazzi and press pit that included Sky News, MTV, Channel 5, BBC, Granada Reports, Key 103, and of course, you’re very own Manchester Confidential stuck on the end but fighting for a coveted spot to gain five minutes of fame – more of that later….

Loaded with camera and notepad, it was certainly a battle royal in the press pit. Three paparazzi fell off their chairs, Bill the Sky soundman forgot the lunch and the girls from MTV and Key 103 were applying more make up than Joan Rivers on a Friday night.

At around 12.30, rumours that the star of Men in Black, Independence Day, Enemy of the State and, erm, Wild Wild West, had arrived. The crowd stirred. The cameras flashed. The Printworks big screen was turned on to display Big Willy climbing out of his limo. The screams began and Irish Alan on stage went quiet for the first time in an hour.

Distant screams turned into throbbing eardrums as Smith approached, flanked by security guards. It was all too much for numerous teenage girls who grabbed the big man and endeavoured to stick their tongue down the poor bloke’s throat - If Smith was going to do three premieres in a single day, then he hadn’t banked on the Manchester crowd.

Diving out from headlocks and coat grabbing, Smith finally made it to the press.

Dressed in long camel jacket and flat leather brown cap, Smith was all smiles, much like many of his film characters. This was no acting though, unless he’d been spending long periods method acting on how to keep a plastic smile on his face for 45 minutes, Smith was genuinely enjoying himself, breaking away from the three minute spells with each press member to salute the crowd via air thumping punches and V-signs (The good, peace way round, not the swearing type obviously).

Manchester Confidential even managed to sneak a question in before becoming enveloping by a sea of big-hitting broadcasters. Seeing as his new film ‘Hitch’ is about a dating counsellor, helping single men of New York City pull off dates with women normally considered out of their league, Smith managed to tell us a couple of his favourite chat up lines. Adopting big cheesy grin, Smith said: “Well the best is: ‘baby, if you were a plant, I’d plant you in my field and plough you all night long’”. Not bad, and certainly better than his second attempt: “Baby, you must be tired…..because you’ve been working through my mind all night long” – I’ve been trying that one for years.

Smith moved onto the rest of the press pack, who stole our question and asked about the weather. More interestingly, Smith promised to return to Manchester and spend longer here next time, after admitting to not know anything about the North West (He only decided to come here after his wife told him about her tour around the region with Brittany Spears).

Smith jumped on the big stage to thank everyone for coming, before breaking into some improvised beat box, importantly incorporating ‘I love Manchester’ into his rap. The crowd scream, the girls fainted, even the police were overwhelmed and were taking pictures.

Then Smith realised what the time was and legged it into thefilmworks to introduce the film and jet off down to Birmingham. He came, he saw, he conquered, but will the Man in Black be back?

See Hitch at thefilmworks from 10th Marchwww.thefilmworks.co.uk


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