Costume wins fans on red carpet

"It was a bizarre experience."

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012
New Plymouth’s Trevor Woudt in his Gandalf costume that proved a huge hit on the red carpet at the premiere last week.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ
CONVINCING: New Plymouth’s Trevor Woudt in his Gandalf costume that proved a huge hit on the red carpet at the premiere last week.

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Trevor Woudt, of New Plymouth, hoped his Gandalf costume would get him a bit closer to the celebrities, but he didn't expect to be signing autographs himself.

Mr Woudt travelled to Wellington last week to soak up the atmosphere on the red carpet at the premier of The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey.

As soon as he donned the crooked grey hat, the fans came flocking.

"I spent two and a half hours posing for or with people. Somewhere between 300 and 400 people had their photos taken with me."

Mr Woudt said he wore the costume as a homage to the wonderful work Weta Workshops did, but had no idea it would be such a hit.

"It was a bizarre experience.

"I just hoped it would get me a good place by the red carpet."

At 1.93 metres, or 6ft 4in, Mr Woudt made a convincing wizard.

"I've got the stature," he said.

The reaction the costume caused among the Middle-earth fans was delightful, he said.

"I got requests for autographs from so many different accents. They were beaming and asking so nicely. I couldn't say no."

New Plymouth dressmaker and designer Sandra Von de Vrill made the costume in two days in the week leading up to the premiere.

Mrs Von de Vrill made costumes for The Last Samurai and has worked with the New Plymouth Operatic Society for almost 35 years.

She had always loved fantasy and had the art book of the Lord of the Rings, which had helped with the design.

"There are the drawings of Gandalf and I'm good at working out how it is put together."

She said the cape and gown were fairly straightforward but the hat had been a challenge.

Mr Woudt had fashioned a staff from driftwood and his beard and hair were a "head-banger" wig from Spotlight.

He said Gandalf's cape and gown were surprisingly cool in the warm weather, but the ensemble had its impracticalities.

"A couple of times I got the beard caught in the staff."

He planned to get plenty more mileage out of the costume.

"Any time there's a costume party, I'll wear it."

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