NEW YORK — Nearly 1,300 years may have passed in Narnia since the last big-screen adaptation of C.S. Lewis' beloved books, but the Pevensies were still looking youthful and beautiful at the red-carpet premiere for "The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian" Wednesday night in New York City. William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Georgie Henley and Skander Keynes were all smiles alongside the likes of Aslan and the White Witch, in the form of Liam Neeson and Oscar winner Tilda Swinton.
But it was a night dominated by the young stars of the hugely popular franchise ("The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" grossed nearly $750 million worldwide). Despite being the lead of the last Narnia adventure, William Moseley admitted to MTV News, "I still feel like a newcomer to this whole premiere thing." Indeed, Moseley made his film acting debut as Peter Pevensie in December 2005.
"It's a lot less freezing," Popplewell said, comparing the beautiful night in Midtown Manhattan to the London premiere two-and-a-half years ago. "It was a royal premiere ... and I had to really grit my teeth with my coat on," she recalled.
Few coats were seen in the sunny early evening on this go-round. In fact, one had to feel sorry for the Narnia guards in full battle regalia lined up along the red carpet.
Meanwhile, the titular star of the new adventure, Ben Barnes, confided that he had been dreading the premiere's gauntlet of reporters and photographers. He exuded calm, however, as he told MTV, "It's not as crazy as I thought it would be." Later, Barnes would inspire some hysteria simply by leaving the carpet to sign photos for the many Narnia fans who had come out for the event.
In recent weeks, Barnes' face seems to have been as omnipresent on the streets of New York as Starbucks — a fact that's been noticed by the actor. "It's so bizarre and surreal [to see the posters]," Barnes laughed. Asked if he'd followed the fan reactions to him since his casting had been announced, Barnes said, "I looked online once when I got the job and saw people write, 'I hate that they chose Ben Barnes. He's too old. He's got the wrong hair.' And then I looked again a few weeks ago, and they said they were sick of seeing my face everywhere. I won't be going [online] again."
If Barnes did go online again, he'd see that much of the prerelease chatter about "Prince Caspian" has been about a new element that the filmmakers contributed: a romance between Caspian and Susan. Barnes said he initially shared the concerns of many die-hard Narnia fans: "I was deeply concerned about [the romance]."
Director Andrew Adamson carefully defended the plot addition. "I think it's very sensitively handled," he said. "The kids are growing up. If you look at Ben and you look at Anna, it seems really implausible that they wouldn't have some feelings for each other."
Moseley is confident that the change only helps Lewis' story. "I think it's a much-needed addition," he said. "It adds a sweet, nostalgic touch."
But will it be the kind of change that fans can accept? Adamson was all optimism as he walked the final steps of the red carpet. "I think the Narnia fans are going to be happy," he told MTV News with conviction. "I'm a hard-core Narnia fan. I've seen the movie with some hard-core fans. I think people who see this movie are going to see the book that they read. I'm very respectful of these books. I grew up with them."
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