It’s rare for Australians to outnumber Americans at a world premiere held at Hollywood’s fabled Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, but actors from Down Under ruled the black carpet for the big debut of the new animated film Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.
"There’s Aussies everywhere," former Home and Away star, Ryan Kwanten, who voices Kludd, a "misguided owl" said as he chatted with media outlets around the world lined Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday.
Legend of the Guardians was made by Oscar-winning Sydney animation house, Animal Logic, produced by Australia’s Village Roadshow and features a who’s who of Australian actors voicing owls, including Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, Anthony LaPaglia, David Wenham, Richard Roxburgh, Sam Neill, Abbie Cornish, Leigh Whannell and Joel Edgerton.
A few "foreigners" were involved, with one of Hollywood’s hottest directors, America’s Zack Snyder, who made the ancient Greek blockbuster 300 and graphic novel adaptation Watchmen, helming the film and Oscar-winning British actress, Helen Mirren voicing Nyra the evil owl.
The film is based on the Guardians of Ga’hoole series of books by American author Kathryn Lasky, and Snyder said a decision was made early in the process, considering the majority of the cast was Australian, to give the owls Aussie accents.
"It was funny because when we talked about it at the beginning, we were like, how are we going to do this?," Snyder said.
"Are we going to go with Australian accents?
"I thought, just how Lord of the Rings or a movie like that would use English accents, I thought maybe our native tongue in Ga’hoole would be the Australian accent. I thought it was a fun way to go."
Lasky never imagined her owls to have Australian accents when she wrote the books, but she did not mind the change.
"I liked it at a lot," the author of the 15-book Ga’hoole series said.
"I thought it gave it an extra something and I think it makes people listen more, maybe in this country (the US) anyway."
The film, which opens in Australian theatres next Thursday, September 30, was shot in 3-D.
Animal Logic and Village Roadshow are hoping Grauman’s Chinese Theatre will prove to be a lucky charm, as their previous collaboration, the 2006 dancing penguin film Happy Feet, which also featured a largely Australian voice cast led by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, won the best animated movie Oscar after its world premiere was held at the theatre.
Wenham, who voices Digger the owl, was excited about finally sitting down and watching the finished film.
"I’ve seen bits of it, and the bits I have seen I have to say are extraordinary," Wenham said as he walked into Grauman’s.
Joining the film’s cast on the black carpet were a sprinkling of Hollywood actors not in the movie, including Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton who took his young daughter. Vanessa Hudgens, who is starring in Snyder’s new action film, Sucker Punch, also attended.
LaPaglia turned out for the premiere despite a recent hip operation that left him walking the carpet on crutches.