DANNY DeVito might only be five feet tall, but he looked every inch a superstar when he arrived at Cineworld Broad Street wearing a pair of his best, black Crocs. And he made a giant impression with fans and media alike at Birmingham’s UK premiere of his new movie, Dr Seuss’s The Lorax.
The 67-year-old actor, director and producer brought the Hollywood sunshine with him when he flew in by helicopter from London. Walking a film-themed orange carpet on Bishopsgate Street, Danny was greeted by a life-sized model of The Lorax – and many of the US Olympic squad, too.
Danny said: “I’m really excited to be here. We’ve got a beautiful day here and Birmingham’s countryside looked gorgeous.” Wasn’t the Jersey Films founder thinking about setting up a studio in Birmingham – where the city-born inventor of plastic Alexander Parkes (1813-1890) created the material which paved the way for celluloid? “Oh for sure,” Danny laughed. “Let’s come over here and make some movies. Celluloid has always been my favourite.”
And was he looking forward to sweet or salty popcorn? “I always go for salty.”
Nearing the end of a 12-week starring role with Richard Griffiths in The Sunshine Boys at London’s Savoy Theatre, Danny revealed how he had always been destined to play The Lorax.
“I got turned on to The Lorax back in the day when my kids were very young because I was reading a lot of Dr Seuss. “I also had to do my part in Russian, German, Spanish and I don’t speak those languages…
“I didn’t try it in the Brummie but maybe that’s next!”
Danny added: “The Lorax is very close to me – he’s feisty, energetic, knows what he wants and fights for what he wants. That’s what we all have to do in life. If you see somebody abusing something, stop ‘em.“
“The Once-ler (voiced by Ed Helms) doesn’t mean to be a bad guy, but he is chopping down all the trees – and that’s where I live as the Lorax, in the trees!”
Celebrity guests inside Screen 5 included former Villa stars, Lee Hendrie and Emile Heskey, UB40’s Robin Campbell and boxer turned actor, ‘Big’ Joe Egan.
The USA Olympic stars included long jumpers Marquise Goodwin and Arizona’s Will Claye, who will also compete in the triple jump. Marquise, from Texas, said: “Everyone has been looking after us so well in Birmingham and we are delighted to be here. “I’ve never been to a film premiere before so this is a first for me.”
Will added: “I’ve only just got here, but many of the team went to St Philip’s Cathedral on Saturday and had a really nice service.”
The Jamaican Olympics team had also been invited to The Lorax. But they went to see the new Batman film The Dark Knight Rises on Saturday night in Screen 7. The world’s fastest man Usain Bolt joined Cineworld Broad Street manager Paul Millington on the team coach after the screening.
“The whole team gave me a round of applause which was an amazing feeling,” said Paul.
“After that and the success of The Lorax premiere, we’re hoping to attract many more premieres to Birmingham.
“Disney were here for The Lorax watching how Universal Pictures handled everything.
“We are hoping to have a premiere for The Sweeney in September. And then we’ll have James Bond in October, by which time our new IMAX cinema in Screen Six should be ready.”The Lorax 3D (U) is released next Friday.