Joshing Around

On a recent Wednesday evening, hundreds of overdressed teenage girls gathered outside Southdale’s MegaStar movie theater. Squeezed into their tightest jeans and tiniest tees, they hummed with excitement as they waited for Josh Hartnett, the movie star and Minnesota native, to arrive. Hartnett was making a rare appearance to raise money for a local charity called Cornerhouse, an agency that assists sexually-abused children. Crazed, er, loyal fans and self-respecting do-gooders alike had paid $35 for a sold-out sneak-premiere of his latest movie, Hollywood Homicide. It was 7 p.m. Some of the girls had been waiting for more than six hours.

We don’t get many premieres around these parts, so here’s the rundown: Hartnett was going to stroll through a traditional “red carpet” reception to say hey to the public and the press, introduce the film, and then sit down to watch it with his family. He doesn’t like Hollywood premieres, Hartnett told The Rake later, but this was different. This was for a good cause.

He was to arrive at 8. The swarm of girls continued to grow. A dozen girls killed time and burned off some pent-up steam by taping an exploitative promo for Channel 5, in which they claimed that, while they liked Josh, they loved Channel 5. Let us tell you: They were lying. When Hartnett, dressed down in a long-sleeved black shirt and casually scruffy jeans, climbed out of a black SUV and onto the red carpet (really), he was welcomed by pure, unadulterated, insane, mad lust. Cameras started snapping, flashes started blinding, and the crush of the crowd tightened. The sheer hormonal energy of the crowd, expended primarily through ear-splitting screeches and screams, was powerful enough to curb this state’s dependence on oil. Instead, we could be living on the love of teenage girls. We haven’t seen such convincing local evidence of this untapped resource since the Beatles played Met Stadium back in 1965.

The shy Hartnett took the adoring mob’s attention in calm if uncomfortable stride; the 25-year-old’s normally Chunnel-deep eyes did appear slightly more deer-in-headlights than previously suggested by the star’s magazine cover shots. (That was him on the cover of last month’s Teen People, you know.) Arms crossed over his broad chest, Harnett headed to the right side of the carpet, where reporters were roped off and kicking like bulls. He answered a few questions and then crossed to the left side, where he scribbled away his signature’s eBay value and presumably lost some of his hearing. Zigzagging his way down the line, he reached the theater door in 10 minutes. With a tight-lipped smile and a stiff-armed wave, he disappeared into the depths of the theater.

Brief as it was, the excitement of Hartnett’s appearance far surpassed that of the crowning of the state’s fattest sow at the State Fair, although it might be rivaled by the opening of the fourth lane on 494. (Commuters are really going to have to get their numbers up, though.) These girls, some bearing “I love Josh” across cheeks, chins, chests, and possibly elsewhere, were so high-energy that this Rake correspondent didn’t tell them the guy owns a home on Lake of the Isles and can be found drinking at The King and I nearly every weekend. —Katie Quirk