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The BBC's Rosie Millard reports
"The film itself is anything but glitzy"
 real 28k

Thursday, 10 February, 2000, 11:29 GMT
DiCaprio mania hits London

DiCaprio fans Thousands of fans packed Leicester Square

Thousands of screaming fans gathered in London's Leicester Square on Wednesday evening to catch a glimpse of heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio arriving for the European premiere of his latest movie.

Admirers were up to 10 deep in places, jostling to get a better position for the arrival of the 25-year-old actor and chanting "Leo" in anticipation.

Leonardo DiCaprio DiCaprio appeared bemused by the crowds
The Beach is his new 30m blockbuster in which he stars as a backpacker whose dream of utopia turns sour.

Barriers were erected for 200 yards either side of the entrance to the Empire cinema to control the crowds.

Young fans waved banners saying "Leo, kiss me quick" as celebrity guests filed in.

The crowd's constant chants became a deafening shrill as DiCaprio stepped from his limousine.

It's weird these crowds - you have to go through the motions. I try my best, I pose for the cameras, but it's almost like it's not me out there
Leonardo DiCaprio
The actor went for a formal approach, emerging from the car in a smart mid-grey suit with a pale shirt and matching tie.

Looked slightly bemused by his reception, he smiled for photographers and made an okay sign to the crowd before heading inside.

He said: "It's weird these crowds - you have to go through the motions. I try my best, I pose for the cameras, but it's almost like it's not me out there.

"But I'm a very lucky person, I don't complain."

Virginie Ledoyen Virginie Ledoyen: Faded jeans
Among the early arrivals was DiCaprio's co-star, Virgine Ledoyen, wearing faded jeans.

The premiere at the Empire cinema attracted a huge celebrity turnout including Baby Spice Emma Bunton, All Saints, who provided the movie's theme tune and Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall.

Another of the film's stars, Robert Carlyle, attended with his wife Anastasia and other guests included BBC Radio 1 DJ Zoe Ball and husband Norman Cook, Sara Cox and Steps performers Faye Tozer and Claire Richards.

Also attending were Virgin boss Richard Branson, model Melanie Sykes, TV presenter Jamie Theakston and actor Ray Winstone.

DiCaprio slipped into the UK on Tuesday - his face hidden under a hooded top.

Actor Robert Carlyle and wife Anastasia
The last time he was in London, he was mobbed by thousands of fans at the premiere of The Man In The Iron Mask.

In The Beach, DiCaprio plays a traveller named Richard, who loves video games and Vietnam War films.

While staying at a hotel in Bangkok, he finds a map left by a neighbour, who has just committed suicide.

The map is believed to lead to a legendary island paradise where other lost travellers have settled - but when they find it, the reality is very different.

Directed by Trainspotting film-maker Danny Boyle, the film is based on the best-selling novel by Alex Garland.

Leonardo DiCaprio: Reportedly paid 12m for his work
Rumours about the film have been circulating since plans to make it were announced two years ago. British actor Ewan McGregor was originally touted for the role before Leonardo DiCaprio - then fresh from his success in Titanic - took the part.

He was reportedly paid $20m (12.4m) for his work - a record for an actor in his 20s.

Even once the casting had been settled, the film still caused controversy when production started in Thailand.

Authorities gave 20th Century Fox permission to landscape Maya Bay, on Phi Phi Island by uprooting vegetation, levelling it and planting palm trees, which were removed after filming 12 months ago.

But despite Fox's assurances that the bay would be returned to its previous state, locals said the bay suffered badly from erosion after 1999's monsoon season. Fox claimed it was monitoring the environmental situation at the beach regularly.

Protesters from the Campaign for Ethical Film-making, wearing "Leo" masks, staged a demonstration at the premiere over the controversy.

The film has had mixed reviews so far. Audiences can decide for themselves when it opens around the world on Friday.

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See also:
10 Feb 00 |  Entertainment
In Pictures: The Beach premiere
19 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
DiCaprio film trial begins
03 Feb 00 |  Entertainment
DiCaprio's Beach premieres
20 Apr 99 |  Entertainment
DiCaprio's sinking feeling
18 Jan 99 |  Entertainment
DiCaprio tries to calm Beach storm
05 Jan 99 |  Entertainment
Trouble in paradise
07 Feb 00 |  UK
Paradise lost?

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