The other day I went to the Redbox machine in front of the Walgreens between Pierce and Nebraska Streets and picked up ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.’
When I popped it into my Xbox and started watching the entertaining flick, I hearkened back to another time I was doing security in Hollywood.
It was a hot day in early July 2007 in the San Fernando Valley (the armpit or the crotch of the greater Los Angeles area). I knew once I arrived at the location of this evening’s assignment on the other side of the mountains at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, things would be much cooler temperature-wise.
Most of the times when you go to a location you don’t know what event you are going to be guarding, and this was the case on this particular day. I parked under the Kodak Theater and made my way up the series of escalators until I walked out into the hustle and bustle of Hollywood and Highland. Instantly I heard very familiar John Williams music and looked to my right, to the red carpet. It was decked out in full-out Harry Potter theme. The premier was for ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.’
I checked in and was placed on the red carpet in front of the Chinese Theater. A crowd formed outside of the bike-rack barricades and paparazzi came in by the horde. The crowd kept getting larger and more unruly until the point the cast started showing up…then things went absolutely nuts. Remember, this is when the Harry Potter series was the biggest thing in Hollywood. Anticipation for these films rivaled the Star Wars franchise. When people saw their favorite Harry Potter characters in real life, they freaked out like girls in the 60s seeing The Beatles. As a security guard, my job was to hold the barricades and make sure no one got hurt (celebrities and fans included).
Once the excitement drew to a close on the red carpet and the stars had gone into the theater to enjoy the film, one of my superiors approached me to see if I could work the after-party. I was always interested in working the after-parties due to the fact it meant getting extra hours on my small paychecks. Also, I knew that attending these after-parties would provide an arsenal of stories for later on in my life; this just proves that point.
I decided I didn’t want to move my car and have to pay for parking again elsewhere, so I left my car in the Kodak Theater parking garage and walked the short walk from the Chinese Theater to the address written down on a post-it note: 1416 North La Brea Ave. This was only a couple blocks down Hollywood to La Brea, then a right for a couple more blocks; an easy walk.
I arrived at the address to a surprise; this was a place I loved from childhood, yet had never seen in real life. I was standing in front of the Jim Henson Muppet Studios, which was formerly Charlie Chaplin Studios and A & M Records. A statue of Kermit the Frog stood on top of the black rod-iron gates, welcoming in guests with a lift of his top-hat. As I walked through the gates, I was transported into the world of Harry Potter. The full bar in the center of the courtyard had green flames jumping out of the top, there were cat noises coming from moving pictures in the restrooms…and then the cast started to show up.
My post revolved, but I mainly stayed near the meowing bathrooms.
A vaguely recognizable guy came up to me and asked if I had a cigarette he could ‘borrow.’
“Do you have a part in this movie?” I asked.
“I had a bigger part in the last movie, but my character died; people don’t really recognize me here like they do in Europe. My name is Rob Pattinson; I play Cedric Diggory,” said Pattinson, taking a cigarette from me. He would keep coming back to me throughout the night bumming more and more cigarettes, like he was the one with no money. At least he was friendly about it and would bullshit with me.
At one point Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe came over to me with a glass of iced Diet Coke with a slice of lime.
“Would you like this?” asked Radcliffe with a smile. “You probably need this more than I do.”
Emma Watson’s father and little brother came to me to talk for a while. Every family member was immensely proud of their respective movie star.
The night wound down and the guests began to leave. Pattinson came trotting back to me for a parting cigarette before leaving into the Hollywood night.
This was truly a magical night being around the energy that came with the Harry Potter universe and I will remember it for a long time to come.