CULTURE

Star-studded premiere of Asterix movie

Astar-studded movie premiere is on the program at the Athens Concert Hall next week, as the Alexandra Trianti opera hall changes tack and puts aside famous arias to make way for Asterix and Obelix’s latest adventure. «Asterix aux Jeux Olympiques» (Asterix at the Olympic Games), brought to Greece by Rosebud distributors, will be making its European premiere on January 17 at the lofty Athens venue, where fans will also have a chance to see stars Alain Delon (who plays Julius Caesar), Gerard Depardieu (Obelix), Adriana Karembeu (Madame Agecanonix) and Vanessa Hessler (Princess Irina), director Frederic Forestier and producer/screenplay writer Thomas Langmann. The third feature film based on the world-famous comic strip by Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny, «Asterix aux Jeux Olympiques» follows in the footsteps of the box-office hits «Asterix et Obelix contre Cesar» (1999, Asterix and Obelix vs Caesar) and «Asterix & Obelix: mission Cleopatre» (2002, Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra). Starring Clovis Cornillac as the indomitable Gaul and Depardieu as his boar-eating companion, and set in Ancient Olympia (it is only fitting that the European premiere should take place in Greece), «Asterix aux Jeux Olympiques» sees the pair competing against the Romans in the Olympic Games so they can help their love-struck comrade Alafolix win the heart of the beautiful Greek Princess Irina. The problem is that her father has already betrothed her to Brutus, the ugly son of Caesar. In order to put an end to the squabbling, Irina promises to marry whomever wins the Games. Our Gallic friends, however, though armed with their famous power-giving magic potion, may get into trouble at the anti-doping test and risk disqualification. So the entire village must pool its forces to ensure that Alafolix comes out the winner. A producer’s dream This big-budget production (78 million euros) has everything a producer could ever ask for: impressive scenery, a cast that brings together stars of film, athletics and the catwalk, and a masterful director. Forestier, who directs along with Langmann, also directed the hit 2002 comedy «Le boulet» (Dead Weight). «Asterix aux Jeux Olympiques» is the 12th book in the comic’ series and was first published in 1968. «I have wanted to make a movie of it, with real actors, ever since I was 14 years old,» says Langmann. «The first idea I had about it was to make Julius Caesar handsome and Brutus ugly.» Langmann got the collaboration of the ever-handsome Delon to play the Roman emperor and cast Belgian comic Benoit Poelvoorde in the role of Brutus. Other casting coups that have been added into the star-studded mix are appearances by Formula 1 star Michael Schumacher (Schumix), soccer great Zinedine Zidane (Numerodix), NBA sensation Tony Parker (Tonus Parker) and tennis player Amelie Mauresmo (Amelix). «The spectacle of the sports had to be equal to the Olympic Games,» says Langmann. The impressive set of Ancient Olympia constructed for the film is the biggest ever to be made for a French production and it was erected at the new La Ciudad de la Luz studios in Alicante, Spain, where 95 percent of the movie was shot. «Asterix aux Jeux Olympiques» will premiere on Thursday, January 17, at 8.30 p.m. at the Athens Concert Hall (1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias Ave, tel 210.728.2333). Admission is free of charge with priority coupons that will be available as of Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the theater’s box office. There will be 600 tickets available and only two are allowed per person.