Friday, January 10, 2014

For superfans, 'Banshee' premiere event is a scream

Fans of Cinemax's "Banshee" assembled inside uptown's McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square got what they came to see at Thursday night's event to launch the second season: a testosterone-fueled new episode of the North Carolina-produced series, and an in-the-flesh glimpse of sexy stars Antony Starr and Ivana Milicevic, who waved and smiled from the stage pre-screening.

For regular viewers, the experience must have been gleeful -- an opportunity to watch it as if watching a movie, with the darkly humorous moments enveloping them in a roomful of laughs and action-scene punchlines producing rousing cheers.

But due to its high quotient of brutal violence and graphic sex, one wondered how it was being received by those simply on hand to celebrate the fact that the show is shot in the Charlotte area, and who had never seen "Banshee" before. "I've not seen the show," Mayor Patrick Cannon said beforehand. "But I've heard a lot about it, gotten great feedback." (His faves? "Scandal" and "Homeland.")

Cannon walked the red carpet in the nearby Duke Energy Theater before the screening, one of many in a line of other distinguished guests and actors who have minor roles in Season 2. The main draws, however, were Starr and Milicevic.

Both had arrived in Charlotte fresh off a press blitz in L.A. the previous day.

Starr -- sporting a softer appearance than his character, with slightly longer hair and a clean shave -- shook hands with greeters despite a brace on his right that he was wearing as a result of a recent surgery. "I've had it about a month," he said. "I wish I had a really good story for you, but unfortunately it's just something that I've been meaning to get done and I finally had the time in between seasons."

And Milicevic shook hands and posed for photos despite a warning that she had taken a red-eye that got her into Charlotte at 6:30 a.m.: "I did (sleep). But not enough. Yeah, don't get too close," she joked.

Both had predictably nice things to say about Charlotte and its hospitality, though Starr -- who plays a tough guy's tough guy on the series -- did say something surprising about our area.

"You know what scares me about Charlotte? Snakes, in a nutshell," he said. "All the disgusting animals that you have here, that I'm not used to because I'm from New Zealand, where we have nothing that hurts you. ... The worst bite you're gonna get there is a mosquito bite; it's great. You can go and sleep out in the bush or out in the forest and not worry about it.

"I'd show you, but it'd take me too long to go through my phone -- I've got a collection of snake shots, because I'm fascinated by them. Most of them are rat snakes and black snakes, so they're harmless, but ... we had someone clearing water moccasins (for a scene near Lake Norman) in Season 1. It's quite surreal for me. Not in the best way."

Milicevic, meanwhile, sounded like she couldn't wait for Thursday night's event to be over.

OK, we're kidding, but the 39-year-old former Bond girl did say this:

"I think tonight if they said, 'Oh, the premiere is off, something happened,' I'd go to Mellow Mushroom for pizza, I'd go to Tony's Ice Cream (in Gastonia -- her favorite flavor is Cowboy Crunch) ... and I would absolutely end up at Soul (Gastrolounge in Plaza Midwood) later. I may end up at Soul later tonight."