TEMPE – Hollywood came to the Valley on Monday night as thousands of movie fans gathered at Tempe Marketplace for the world premiere of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and to catch a glimpse of the actor who has been dubbed the “sexiest man alive.”
After weeks of anticipation and hours of waiting, X-Men fans, celebrity gawkers and other curious residents got a rare taste of Tinseltown as Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and a cast of superheroes and villains paraded down the red carpet.
The crowds started gathering overnight to see the stars or attend the movie, which was showing on all 16 screens at the Harkins Tempe Marketplace theater. The pre-party was the big event.
Instead of a limo, Jackman zoomed into the parking lot on a vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle, wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket. His thousand-watt smile and Australian accent sent the crowd of thousands into a frenzy when he took the stage. Many waved giant foam Wolverine claws.
“I waited three years for this moment, and now the world premiere is here in Arizona,” Jackman said. “I’m proud to be here with the cast . . . and show it to you first.”
Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman congratulated fans for winning the premiere for Tempe through an online poll sponsored by Twentieth Century Fox.
“To quote Wolverine, ‘We’re the best there is at what we do!’ ” he yelled. Jackman, People Magazine’s 2008 “Sexiest Man Alive,” spent time signing autographs and posing for photos. Early Monday morning, he bought pastries and coffee for about 800 fans who had camped out.
“You could tell he really wanted to try to stop and sign autographs for everyone,” said Teresa Valencia, 24, of Mesa, who scored autographs from both Jackman and Taylor Kitsch, who plays Gambit, on her T-shirt.
Aside from Jackman, many of the loudest screams were for blond-haired heartthrob Ryan Reynolds, who plays Wade Wilson in the film.
“It’s not a Hollywood premiere, it’s the real kind of premiere,” Reynolds said. “This is incredible. This is . . . how they should do it from now on.”
Screaming fans waved “Wolverine” posters, comics, magazines and drawings at the celebrities. Vincent Gonzales of Casa Grande waved a sketch of Wolverine on a pizza box.
“I just drew it in about 15 minutes,” said Gonzales, 20, said.
Rocker Alice Cooper, who lives in Phoenix, has been to many movie premieres. He enjoyed this one because of the fans.
“Fans in LA are a little more reserved,” he said. “This is more rock and roll.”
Liev Schreiber’s, who plays Sabetooth, said “We do these things in New York, and we do them in LA, and they’re routine.
“But to . . . meet people who spent the night to get a ticket to see a movie you’re in, it changes your perspective.”