Celebrities and stormtroopers mingle at Irish premiere for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Dublin
An army of stormtroopers flanked the red carpet as the Force awoke in Dublin last night.
They weren't waiting for Darth Vader, or even the new Star Wars film's villain, Kylo Ren, but for more than 800 guests lucky enough to get invited to the Irish premiere of the most eagerly awaited blockbuster of the year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which hits cinemas nationwide today.
Outside the Savoy cinema, the Spire was transformed into a giant blue lightsaber to mark the return of Jedi knight Luke Skywalker to the big screen after more than three decades.
Celebrity superfan Liam Cunningham told the Herald how he had been avoiding spoilers online. "I've just worked with Mark Hamill on [video game] Squadron 42 and he was an absolute delight," the Game of Thrones star said.
"Mark Hamill, to me, is Luke Skywalker; to my daughter, he's the Joker because he does all the Batman video games.
"I've heard rumours that Luke may have gone over to the dark side - but I've been trying not to read anything about it.
"It's a bit like Game of Thrones," he added. "People want spoilers, but as soon as you turn around and say, 'OK, I'll tell you', they go, 'No, don't tell me!'"
Directed by JJ Abrams, the seventh instalment in the space saga - which is a sequel to 1983's Return of the Jedi - reunites Hamill with the other original stars, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
Newcomers to the galaxy far, far away include John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, who was unable to attend the premiere as he was promoting The Revenant in Hollywood.
Star Wars fanatic Tom Smith and his 18 year-old daughter Emma from Oldcastle in Co Meath got last-minute tickets to the sold-out event.
"I was seven years of age when I was brought to the first one and it just started from there," Tom said. "My four daughters really had no choice in becoming Star Wars fans!
"The burning question for me is 'Who is Kylo Ren?'," he continued. "I'm just hoping it keeps to the tradition of good versus evil ... and won't go too haywire. It's very exciting."
Partly filmed on Skellig Michael, the movie is already tipped to shatter box office records after taking €50m in pre-sales.
Attending the star-studded premiere, Arts Minister Heather Humphreys confessed she had never seen the movies.
"I've seen a few clips - but I understand that you can watch the [new] movie without having seen any of the previous episodes," she said, adding the movie would be "hugely important" for tourism.