By by Eve Meinhardt/ParaglideJanuary 28, 2010
FORT BRAGG, NC -- On Saturday, the true Hollywood experience came to Fort Bragg as the installation hosted the premier of "Dear John," a movie about a Special Forces Soldier who falls in love, based on the book by Nicholas Sparks.
Sparks, along with the film's stars, Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, walked the red carpet into York Theater, meeting and signing autographs for the more than 600 ticketholders lining the walkway to greet them.
Even though the stars weren't scheduled to appear until 4 p.m., fans began arriving around 8 a.m. in anticipation of seeing their favorite author and the actors.
Emily Young, 14, and Kristen Holland, 16, began their wait at noon. When asked why they arrived four hours early, their response was loud and in unison, "Channing Tatum!"
Tatum, who plays Special Forces' Soldier, John Tyree, is no stranger to playing Army roles. He also starred in "Stop Loss" and "G.I. Joe." He said he respects what Soldiers do each day.
"What (the Soldiers) do and what their lives are like and military life in general is like, it's extraordinary," said Tatum. "It's a huge, huge honor to be here."
Seyfried, who plays Savannah Curtis, Tyree's girlfriend who learns how difficult maintaining a relationship over distance and deployments is, said her role allowed her to appreciate the sacrifices of the military Family.
"I have the deepest appreciation for what they (military Families) do," she said. "These men and women (serving), that's their lives and their loved ones can only just wait until they get to see them again. It's a big sacrifice."
Tatum and Seyfried, along with Tatum's wife, actress Jenna Dewan, also visited Womack Army Medical Center to meet with wounded Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Battalion.
Before the movie premiered, Col. Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg garrison commander, added a Hollywood-like awards presentation, giving Sparks, Tatum and Seyfried Iron Mike statues representing Fort Bragg's iconic paratrooper and thanked them for bringing a little glamor to the installation.
Sparks, who lives in and writes about North Carolina, said he was pleased that the movie, premiering worldwide Feb. 5, opened at Fort Bragg.
"This is exciting for me," said Sparks as he addressed the audience before the premier. "Fort Bragg has been a special place to me. I've known people stationed here and I've had book signings here. So, I just want to thank you all for coming and we are here because we greatly respect everything that you do and we hope that you love the film."
The sniffles in the audience and the applause filling the theater as the end credits began to roll seemed to indicate that the actors' and the author's wishes were fulfilled - everyone seemed to enjoy the film.