Last weekend, on Saturday, April 25, 2015 I attended the Newport Beach Film Festival where they were having the U.S. premiere for Ben Barnes and Katherine Heigl’s latest movie, Jackie & Ryan. It’s about Ryan, a train hopper aspiring to become a successful musician, and Jackie, a single mother battling her soon-to-be-ex-husband for custody of their daughter. The two meet by chance, but it isn’t until their second meeting that they truly begin to connect. Sharing a love for music, Jackie and Ryan inspire, encourage, and, inevitably, change each others’ lives.
It was my first time attending any sort of film festival, so I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was that it was the red carpet premiere of Ben’s latest film, so of course I wasn’t going to miss it if I could help it. (I would’ve gone to the premiere for his other movie, By The Gun, had it not required me to get on a plane and fly across the country.) The screening for Jackie & Ryan was held at the Starlight Triangle Square Cinema in Costa Mesa, which was a fairly small but quaint theater.
The movie wasn’t scheduled to start until 7:30pm, but I didn’t want to risk it in case there was a ridiculously long line like there usually is for movie premieres – at least the ones I’ve previously attended. So, after about an hour’s drive, we arrived at the theater around 5pm. Jackie & Ryan is an indie small budget film though, so thankfully we didn’t have to worry about it at all. We even met two lovely ladies (Jasmine and Tiffany, who are twins) who were also there to see Ben! Naturally, we ended up passing time by gushing about how amazing he is.
They had a small red carpet set up inside the theater where the press was set up to do interviews and such, but since we had arrived early it was still fairly empty. So of course my friend and I had to take the chance and take pictures on the red carpet. 😉
Around 7pm they finally allowed us into the theater and we took our seats. My friend had wanted to sit on the side section, but I noticed the “reserved” seats were smack-dab in the middle of the center section so of course I had to sit as close to it as possible. Good thing I did, too! The cast was late for half an hour (what else is new? Lol) but when they did finally arrive, Ben ended up sitting only TWO ROWS behind me!
He was so close, in fact, that when we waved at him as he was walking to his seat, he smiled, said hello in that melodious British accent of his, and waved back! I also could have just turned to my left and peek through the space between the theater chairs, and I could still see him clearly. I was THAT close. Of course, I resisted acting like a total creeper and only looked once. Haha
I was trying to be calm and collected, and was mostly successful. I just ended up smiling widely and waving back enthusiastically. Not too bad, if I do say so myself. Yay self-control!
Ben is such a sweetheart and gentleman I almost couldn’t take it. Seriously, he’s the best. Not long after he arrived in the theater he stopped to greet three older women who were sitting behind us, chatted with them a bit, and took a photo. I got the entire exchange on video too and UGH just listening to his voice makes me melt.
Check out a small clip from the video!
Tiffany was freaking out more than I was because it was her first time meeting him, which I totally understood because the first time I met Ben (Aug. 16, 2012 at The Grove for an advanced screening of The Words, but that’s another story) I could hardly speak. If you think Ben is gorgeous on-screen, oh, wait until you meet him in person! That smile, those eyes, that voice, and to top it all off a wonderful personality? Ugh, seriously, I would love to just sit there and have a conversation with him because I could listen to his voice all day and he’s such a pleasant person to be around.
Anyway, Jasmine and I told Ben it was Tiffany’s first time meeting him so she was freaking out a little. Ben, being the absolute sweetheart that he is, got out of his seat, and leaned over to shake her hand and asked her for her name. Oh man, she was dying and I was freaking out for her! I was so happy for her. Haha Now I wish I got THAT exchange on video. Darn.
Soon after we had to calm down because the film was starting. I actually really enjoyed it! Probably because Ben was singing for a good chunk of the film (I really love his voice, okay? Haha) The plot was interesting and I enjoyed the gorgeous cinematic shots of winter in Utah. Those scenes were so breathtakingly beautiful. The themes of family, perseverance, and human connection resonated with me the most, and left me feeling inspired and hopeful by the end of the film. Ben, Clea, and Katherine gave wonderfully vivid performances, and I must say, Ben just keeps getting better and better with each film of his I see.
The movie lasted about 90 minutes and after it was over the cast in attendance (Ben Barnes, Katherine Heigl, and Clea DuVall) and the director Ami Canaan Mann did a Q&A session.
Ben was so funny and kept making jokes and being adorable throughout the Q&A. I tried to record as much of it as I could but my phone ran out of space and stopped recording before it was over. 😦 Oh well, I know someone with a better camera was recording in the front row so it’s out there somewhere.
After the Q&A, Ben stayed behind to greet the line of fans that rushed to the front to meet him. I figured I was going to see him at the after party anyway (which he didn’t attend! I was SO thankful I got to him at the theater when I had the chance), so I took my time getting in line. As my turn to meet him came closer and closer, however, I could feel myself getting nervous again.
When it was finally my turn I handed Ben my Seventh Son book to sign, and as he was doing so proceeded to ask him if he remembered when fans sang to him for his birthday a few years ago. He said, “Oh, right, at the, uh…” I said, “The Grove.” Then he said, “Ah, yes. Yes, I do.” I then told him – an abridged version, for time – how it happened: the girls there didn’t know it was almost his birthday until I came with my (atrocious) homemade birthday card, and when he arrived someone thought of all of us singing happy birthday to him. As I was telling him all this, I tried so hard to keep eye contact with him and not lose my composure (I kept thinking, “Be mature and keep your cool, Mina! Stay calm!”) but Ben Barnes, BEN BARNES who I completely fell for years ago after watching Prince Caspian was looking at me just HOW do you expect me to keep cool, especially when it was just my second time meeting him!? So, that’s why I look like how I do in the following pictures (thanks to my friend for taking these, by the way.)
At this point Ben asked with a smile, “Did you really? Was that you?” (meaning, the one who instigated his birthday “celebration” of sorts those couple years ago at The Grove. Why, yes, Ben. That was me. 😉 Atrocious birthday-sign-I-hadn’t-meant-to-actually-give-you-because-it-looked-like-a-twelve-year-old-made-it-in-art-class and all. With my mouth covered (God, why do I keep doing that when I get nervous and giddy) I nodded, then said (thankfully with my mouth uncovered), “Yeah, it was.” Ben reopened my book and proceeded to write in it again, all the while I kept talking, mostly out of nervousness, “Well, I didn’t KNOW the girls there didn’t know it was going to be your birthday in a few days, and I’m so sorry for the ugly card…” Pause. “What are you doing?” I asked playfully, and a little warily, with a smile as I watched him write. Ben grinned as he finished writing what ever it was he was writing in my book, shook his head innocently, then said, “Oh, nothing.”
Then we took this picture together. A little blurry but whatever, I love it. 🙂
Later I opened my book and discovered what he had written, and I literally said, “Awww!!” out loud. Haha
Ugh, like I needed more reasons to be in love with you, Ben!
Had I known at that time that Ben wasn’t going to be at the after party, I would have stayed longer and took another picture, or maybe tried to talk to him more. Oh well, I was happy! 🙂
The after party was pretty uneventful except for the food and minor entertainment, so I’ll just post the few pictures I took there in my Facebook. Check them out if you’re feeling curious!
Until next time!