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behind the curtain

14 things I learned from going to interview a movie star

A glimpse behind the scenes of a big blockbuster press junket.

HAVE YOU EVER wondered what exactly goes on at those Hollywood press junkets? Wonder no more. popped over to London recently to interview Emilia Clarke ahead of the release of Terminator: Genisys this week.

Here’s what we learned when we had a peek behind the curtain of promoting a big film…

Junkets are held in only the fanciest of the fancy London hotels

The most popular hotels for junkets in London are Claridges, The Dorchester and the Soho. PLUSH.


This particular junket was held in a suite of rooms at Claridges – the fear of wrecking the gaff was strong. Very strong.

You feel scruffier than you’ve ever felt before

IMG_5238 Dat gold detailing.

When you walk in, the air is filled with what can only be described as the scent of wealth.

“Some people are staying here on their actual holidays,” I bleat, as I consider the aparthotel in Lanzarote where I spent my last one.

Hosting the rich and famous is completely NBD to the staff

giphy Giphy Giphy

One member of staff told me that junkets were just part of the hotel’s routine, and are only really a hassle for the employees tasked with moving the furniture out of the suites.

Tell that to those of us sitting here sweating about chatting to a massive TV/movie star.

They put on a spread for the waiting journalists

Tiny cakes, cookies, fruit, an endless stream of posh water, Coke, and hot drinks.

There was a Terminator simulator game to play while we hung about, and you could even cuddle up to this fella:


Or admire the leather jacket Arnold Schwarzenegger wore in the film:


I didn’t get close enough to sniff it, but I’m sure it smelled LIKE A DREAM.

Whole companies exist to make junkets like these run smoothly

shutterstock_129015719 Shutterstock / Pavel Shlykov Shutterstock / Pavel Shlykov / Pavel Shlykov

They don’t just happen by magic. There are people whose job it is to come in, usher people like me in and out of rooms, and chat via walkie-talkie (amongst other things, I’m sure).

And there is a LOT of ushering

First, you are ushered into a room to be ‘checked in’. Then, you are ushered into a waiting room.

Then, when your time has come, you are ushered down a long, mysterious corridor to the room where the interview will take place. Then you are ushered out of it.

long corridor Very long. Very mysterious.

After a junket, you will never want to be ushered anywhere, ever again, in your whole life. Ever.

You hear some amount of gossip about celebrities

Me, all day:

happy bobsponge PhotoBucket PhotoBucket

Between the staff running about and the other journalists talking about previous junkets, my ears were on stalks.

Fans just know where the stars are going to be

tumblr_mo7lizGuK51rkzueko1_1280 It's a bit like this. Tumblr Tumblr

A sizeable amount of fans, most brandishing Game of Thrones merchandise, were already waiting outside the hotel when we arrived – one was even sketching a picture of Emilia Clarke to pass the time. Standard.

Everything is timed down to the last minute

In junket land, there is no such thing as “around half past” or “about a quarter to”. You go in to your interview at 3.27pm, and you go out at 3.33pm.

tumblr_nq2h8mxsuH1uys7l6o2_500 Tumblr Tumblr

If another journalist asks for a photo that has not been pre-approved, it comes out of the next journalist’s allotted time. That’s how the cookie crumbles.

There are approximately 46432 people in the room with you

When you see those videos of stars chatting to journalists, it all seems so intimate and lovely, right? Here’s an example of what it really looks like:

A smattering of publicists, camera operators, and assistants are there with you. Watching you. Waiting to jump in if anything isn’t to their liking…

The actors really have been doing this all day

France Terminator Genisys Associated Press Associated Press

I thought preparing for my six-minute interview was stressful. But when I imagined sitting in a small room, under hot studio lights, talking through six minute interview after six minute interview, I reckoned the writers might have the better deal.

You are literally sitting right across from the ‘talent’

Again, in the videos it looks like the journalist is sitting comfortably at an angle to the movie star, all casual.

terminatorcollage Just two mates having a laugh!

In reality, I was facing Emilia head-on. Our knees are almost touching. It was weird.

It’s all over before you even know it

aDoyrxS Imgur Imgur

Six minutes seems like no time at all, right? It’s even less when you can see someone out of the corner of your eye ticking off the minutes for the benefit of the camera operator.

And with one final usher, you’re out the door

Out of the rich-smelling, posh water-filled world of junkets and back into the real world.

LA Premiere of Terminator Genisys - Red Carpet Bye Emilia! Jordan Strauss / Invision/AP Jordan Strauss / Invision/AP / Invision/AP

And I was mere seconds from becoming BFFs with Emilia, too. Oh well, maybe next time…

32 things we learned when we were invited to the Game of Thrones world premiere>

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