Monday, April 16, 2012

The Olivier Awards, or: How I Met Harry Lloyd (Again)

Okay! Let's talk about the Olivier Awards! I wasn't sure what I was going to write about for this post at first -- would I describe the performances? Recap the winners in each category? Review the red carpet gowns? But finally I've decided I'm just going to write like a crazy fangirl and try to share my favorite moments of the night, so you get my experience of it all instead of the same thing you could read at any news site. So yeah. Here we go. (Also please excuse some of these photos; most were taken on my awful phone, but the better ones were jacked from Shaun.)

As perhaps some of you know (again, I've been on and on about this on twitter), Shaun won two tickets to the 2012 Laurence Olivier Awards, which took place last night at the Royal Opera House. She won them on Friday, and when she sent me an email about it I was in a total state of shock. The email basically went, "Oh so I won these tickets on twitter for the Olivier Awards, it's a fancy theatre awards show, are you busy this Sunday? Sorry this email is ridiculous." I said, "UM YES PLEASE, NO I AM NOT BUSY ON SUNDAY, WHY IS THIS EMAIL SO CALM." After that we proceeded to panic about what to wear, what celebs would be there, etc. I bought a new dress and shoes for the event, since I destroyed my only heels at the office Christmas party by somehow caking them in mud. It was a very stressful weekend trying to put an outfit together, let me tell you.

At the end of it all, though, I think it turned out okay! Not the fanciest ever, but the dress was on sale for £15 at River Island so what are you gonna do. I fell in love at first sight with the shoes (from New Look), but by the end of the night I wanted to kill myself my feet were in so much pain. People who wear 6-inch heels every day: HOW.

Skip ahead to Sunday afternoon. The red carpet was supposed to open at 4:30pm, but we didn't want to be ridiculously early so Shaun and I went for a drink at the Nag's Head in Covent Garden to calm our frazzled nerves. We saw a couple other dressed up people there, probably having the same thought as us! What's an awards show without a drink beforehand?

My painful-as-hell shoes and our pre-show drinks: pint of Foster's for me and a rum & coke for Shaun.
After enduring a brief downpour and a bunch of contradictory instructions from people in reflective vests, we finally found the entrance to the red carpet. By this time our feet were killing us, so we hobbled onto the carpet... and lo and behold, it was super squishy! The red carpet is a legitimate carpet, you guys! It was like a cloud under my feet, and we didn't fall or trip while walking along it. There were fans gathered along the sides, and I felt bad that we weren't anyone famous, but it was so early that nobody cool was arriving yet anyway. Once we reached the end of the carpet we took a few cheeky photos, hovered for a moment hoping somebody hot would appear on the carpet (they didn't), and finally headed into the Opera House.

Looking like a goob on the red carpet, and free bubbly during the interval!
The red carpet, too early to be interesting to anyone.
Before the crowd really started gathering in the commoners' bar.

Once inside we were directed upstairs to a fancy bar area, at which point we immediately found a place to sit down. From there we could quite easily people-watch, but the real excitement was outside on the red carpet. Behind us were windows looking out on the red carpet, and every once in a while we'd crane our necks around to see if anyone interesting had arrived yet. I had my mind on one thing and one thing only, as expected: Harry Lloyd. I'd read earlier in the week that he was going to be presenting an award that night, so when I found out we were actually going to be there I about had a Harry Lloyd-induced coronary. Needless to say I had my beady eyes on the lookout for his creepy Duchess of Malfi facial hair, and what do you know, I peered over my shoulder at one point to see a faraway face on the red carpet... was that...? Yes it was! I said something articulate to Shaun like, "OHMYGOD IT'S HIM I THINK THAT'S HARRY IS THAT HIM? OHMYGOD YES IT IIISSSS," so we stood up and shuffled painfully to the window. It was indeed Harry Lloyd, being interviewed and looking very tall on the red carpet. We murmured fangirlisms to one another as we watched, but soon enough he was ushered inside by his PA.

After that there was a bit of a lull. We continued to stare eagerly out the window, while I glanced intermittently at the stairs leading up to the room in which we stood, hoping that somehow Harry Lloyd would make his way up to us so I could stand around feeling bad that I was too chicken to talk to him. We figured there must be a super cool, separate celebrity bar downstairs, and that we commoners weren't important enough to be allowed to mingle with them, so we were herded up here to the Olivier Awards equivalent of the third class decks on the Titanic. Soon, though, more famous people started showing up. We were way up on the 1st or 2nd floor, so it was rather hard to pick them out, but whenever somebody was being interviewed or photographed we knew it was someone we might recognize. I spotted Zach Braff first, and later we caught site of Dan Stevens (cousin Matthew from Downton Abbey!). I got so excited I took the shittiest phone photo known to man:

Of course the whole time I kept a keen eye on the stairs, hoping against hope that Harry would get lost amongst the milling crowds and confusedly wander up to the lowly commoners' area and then be drawn to me like a moth to a flame, and ask, "Why are you staring at me?" I'd given up hope though, and reminded myself that I'd already met him outside the Old Vic after The Duchess of Malfi, so it wasn't a tragedy if I never spoke to him again. It didn't matter that I'd been reliving that moment in my head every night as I went to sleep, coming up with more interesting banter, remembering all the things I wish I'd said to him the first time, kicking myself for not thinking of them sooner. (I'd apologize for my insane fangirl behavior, but come on guys, who hasn't obsessively dwelt on this kind of thing before? Who? Yeah, nobody.) And then suddenly, as though I possessed a Harry Lloyd radar at full power, I turned to the stairs and there he was.

I poked Shaun and scream-whispered: "There he is ohmygod he's coming up the stairs!" Shaun, not really caring as much as me and probably tired by now of my constant Harry Lloyd ravings, indulged me by pretending to be super interested. She soon turned back to the window and the red carpet, but I stalker-watched Harry as he made his way through the crowd. He was clearly looking for someone, at one point pulling out his phone and making a call while standing all confused and alone in the middle of the now crowded room, so I stood my ground and stared like a sexual predator. A terrified, frozen sexual predator.

I was still gawking at him over my shoulder when Shaun punched me in the face. Okay fine, the arm; she hit me really hard on the arm. It would've been more badass if it was the face, though. Anyway, Shaun slapped my arm with the force of a thousand Spartans and said, pointing out the window, "IT'S JAMES MCAVOY!" And it was. That tiny Scottish actor with so much manly allure, pausing for photos and being generally Really Famous and Cool As Fuck. We each shed a single tear in the face of his overwhelming beauty.

Once that was over with, I jerked back around to look for Harry, only to find that he'd disappeared into the crowd. No! Then a bell sounded, and a woman's voice over the sound system told us all to fuck off to our seats because the ceremony was about to begin. Shaun and I stood unmoving, and I scanned the crowd in a panic. No sign of Harry. We weren't quite sure where we were meant to go in order to find our seats, so at last I led Shaun off through the now thinning crowd in the direction which I thought Harry had gone. We paused again near the bar on the other end of the room, and then I saw him. He was in conversation with two other people who were clearly Awesome and probably Actors, so I poked Shaun and started saying stupid things like, "There he is," "Should I go...?" "Will I regret it if I..." and "UGH OMG." Then a woman came up and tried to make us leave, so I said something like, "WE HAVE NO IDEA WHO WE ARE OR WHERE WE'RE GOING OR WHAT'S HAPPENING" and she showed us where to find our seats. We didn't move; we just kept standing there and I wrung my hands and tried to still my heart that was beating like a hummingbird's.

IT'S HARRY LLOYD Y'ALL. Look at that gross facial hair. (via)

I knew I'd regret it if I didn't go talk to him, though. I knew I'd forever be living that moment in my head as well, and not in a good way. So when the usher went up to Harry and his friends to tell them to get out of there and find their seats, I took the opportunity to hobble over to them. All I remember at that point is reaching out to touch his arm, because he'd turned back to the bar, and I noticed he had what looked like dog or cat hair on the elbow of his tux, and I thought, "Boy, you need a lint roller." When he turned around I kind of just went into autopilot. I said something like, "Excuse me, hi, I just wanted to let you know I'm a huge fan of your work!" I expected him to be a little annoyed that some random was accosting him at this safe zone of an awards show, but he broke into this bright grin and said, "Oh, thank you so much!" Encouraged, I proceeded to tell him everything I'd seen him in and how much I loved him in everything, which was probably super neurotic and weird of me, but whatever! He made a cute comment about how his character in Game of Thrones was "another creepy git" or something after I mentioned seeing him in Duchess of Malfi. I also told him that I'm writing a novel and that he's my ideal casting for the movie version of one of the characters. DORKIEST THING TO SAY EVER, but I'm really glad I did, because I told him this in my stupid fantasies and I had to do it. I had to. He was probably super weirded out but I don't care, he was so gracious and happy to talk to me, some random fangirl! Then he shook my hand and shook Shaun's hand, and we probably said something like, "Have fun tonight" or whatever you say in these situations, and then he walked off into the crowd again. And then I peed myself a little.

The rest of the night was incredible. It was funny, entertaining, overwhelming, and ridiculous (because they could not seem to get the tv screens on stage to work properly). There was free champagne at the interval, and a ton of musical performances from various London shows throughout. We were in literally the last row of audience members, but it hardly mattered! We saw Patrick Stewart present an award, for godsake! I breathed the same air as Captain Jean-Luc Picard! I was in heaven. The whole thing was like a dream; really, one of the most memorable events of my life. And needless to say I was basking in post-Harry Lloyd euphoria the entire time.

After the show I peed for about five minutes straight (pint + champagne + small bladder = so much peeing), we plodded down roughly one billion flights of stairs in our heels, and emerged into the freezing night air of London. There was a small crowd of fans outside waiting for celebs to emerge, and it reminded us just how lucky we were to have been able to attend. We may not have gotten up close and personal with James McAvoy or anything, but we saw him from afar, and being able to see so many people in person and to experience the event live was just... beyond words.

I'm so grateful that Shaun invited me along as her date, and I'm so grateful to live in a city that gives us these incredible opportunities, again and again! People keep telling us we're lucky, or that we lead "charmed" lives, but we did all of it ourselves. (Although Shaun does win tickets to awards shows occasionally.) We applied and were accepted to graduate programs in London, we bought plane tickets, we packed up all our stuff and we crossed an entire ocean to accomplish what we truly wanted to do in life. We may do a lot of really cool things, but that's because we're always on the lookout, and always making new experiences a priority. Anyone out there who wants to do something that makes them truly happy, something amazing and grand, just do it! Awesome things don't come to those who wait. You have to make life happen. And I'm just so happy that I've made all of this happen for myself. Thanks forever to Shaun for initially inspiring me. ♥

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