At last night’s enormous Maleficent Hollywood premiere, the usual showbiz pageantry was upset when Ukrainian journalist Vitalii Sediuk leaped over a barrier and made contact with Brad Pitt’s face. Details of the incident are still unclear, though it’s unlikely that he punched or slapped the actor; that’s not the modus operandi of the same serial red-carpet troublemaker who tried to kiss Will Smith, hugged Bradley Cooper and Leonardo DiCaprio, and climbed under America Ferrera’s dress at Cannes. (He’s been booked for suspicion of battery, and is currently being held on $20,000 bail.) Yahoo photo editor Giana Mucci was roaming the event with a camera, and to see her close-up photos is to get an idea of just how daunting it must be to be the focus of a red carpet; even when nobody leaps over the barricade, it is an evening of barely controlled chaos and invaded personal space. I know, I know: Boo hoo, celebrities, with your movie star problems. And yet the photo timeline below gives a glimpse of how overwhelming it can be to be the object of that much wide-eyed adulation in a tiny space. (Note: Mucci did not catch the actual Sediuk incident, just the aftermath.)
Brad and Angelina begin their walk down Hollywood Blvd. toward the El Capitan theater. Fans (and the inevitable “REPENT! FOLLOW JESUS!” sign-waving opportunist) crowd the sidewalks. The head of security told Mucci that Brangelina fans had shown up to secure a spot as early as 1 p.m. the previous afternoon; that was earlier than even Marvel obsessives, who usually don’t arrive at superhero premieres until the morning of. At this point the stars have room to breathe, though that won’t last long.
A quick photo op with a group of girls doing Maleficent cosplay (Pitt, who was nearby yells, “You guys look great!”) Adorable, and also well contained.
At this point, the couple, hand in hand, wade into the fan area, a tunnel of barricades that puts them right next to the swarm of onlookers. It’s like looking up at a cresting wave of to-be-autographed posters, selfie-craving cell phones, and hands grasping for contact.
The selfie is the new autograph; it is the fan’s proof of celebrity contact, and the perfect Twitter profile background.
There is no way to know how many of these photos and calendars, once autographed, will be given a treasured spot in a bedroom, and how many will go on eBay. And yet Jolie gamely maintains a smile as she signs much of it, pressed between this bottomless conveyor belt of glossy prints and her wall of security people.
This is when things start to get chaotic. It’s hard to judge a person’s mood by one captured frame, but it seems like the onslaught in this tight area is starting to make Jolie a little uneasy. Also, look at the size of the posters being pushed forward; it’s like the requests are just getting bigger, not smaller.
This is right after Sediuk jumped out at Pitt, who had wandered away from Jolie. Pitt stands behind his bodyguards, and you can see Sediuk’s red pant leg and shoe sticking up on the left as the other security guards wrestle him away. Fans snap pictures of the melee, while some are still holding out their prints: Yeah, yeah, so he jumped out at you — this Fight Club promo picture isn’t going to sign itself! (The fact that this is all happening under a Hooters sign does not help add any dignity to the proceedings.)
To be a superstar is to be able to shake such things off and continue to service the fans. It’s impressive that even after the attack, Pitt (the top of whose gelled head you can see behind the blue-shirted photographer) does not rush away. If this had just happened to you, and then you turned around to see disembodied arms pushing calendars through a hedge at you, wouldn’t you consider saying, “This is too surreal, I’m getting out of here”?
Brad and Angelina emerge from the fan zone, and Jolie is greeted by drag Maleficent. Is Angelina more thrilled because it’s a creative costume homage, or because this man is not waving a calendar or cell phone at her?
Back to the Maleficent backdrop, here Jolie posts with her castmates (L to R: Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, and Sam Riley). The photo ops finished, she ran out to give the fans one more wave, and was swept into the theater, thus concluding the hour of signing, smiling, posing, and being pawed at. Celebrity duty accomplished.
Photo credit: Giana Mucci