Olympic Opening Ceremony 2012 Grades: Celebrity Highlights from London Gala
Many believed that no opening ceremony would ever match the one put together in Beijing, but London made a strong case for itself on Friday night as a fantastic mix of artistry and star power made it an event that won't soon be forgotten. The biggest thing in London's favor that Beijing lacked was certainly celebrity involvement in the opening ceremony.
Countless British singers, actors, athletes and royalty contributed heavily to the opening of the Games, and that made it feel extra special. Not every celebrity was an absolute hit, but they all did something that added to the festivities and were an absolutely huge part of the opening ceremony.
Here is a breakdown of how the top celebrities involved performed during Friday's opening ceremony.
Which celebrity performed best at the opening ceremony?
Paul McCartney, a former member of The Beatles, was the headline performer of the night and he didn't disappoint. The crowd and the athletes were clearly into his performance from the start and he created a great deal of energy in Olympic Stadium. McCartney seemed very emotional when he began to sing and that made for an absolutely fantastic Olympic moment.
McCartney may not technically be royalty in Great Britain, but he is musical royalty, so he was the perfect choice for Friday's festivities. McCartney has done it all over the course of his career, and he can add performing at the Olympics to the list. Whether you're a fan of his music or not, there is no doubt that McCartney enhanced the experience with his stirring rendition of "Hey Jude."
Queen Elizabeth II
In Great Britain she is royalty, but as far as the rest of the world is concerned, Queen Elizabeth II is somewhat of a celebrity. It was obvious that she would be a big part of the opening ceremony and she was, as she signaled the opening of the games. Queen Elizabeth wasn't exactly overly enthusiastic about the start of the London Games, but at 86 years of age, it was impressive that she was such a visible figure.
When Team GB was marching past during the opening ceremony, there was a funny moment caught on camera as Queen Elizabeth was tending to her nails rather than watching the athletes. Also, there was a skit where a faux Queen Elizabeth jumped from a helicopter along with James Bond. The Queen played her role well, but it's fair to say that actually jumping out of the helicopter would have gotten her a better score.
There was some speculation that British soccer star David Beckham would light the Olympic cauldron despite not being selected for the Olympic team, but while he didn't do that, he did play a significant role in the transportation of the torch. Beckham drove a speedboat down the River Thames as British under-17 soccer player Jade Bailey held the all-important torch and handed it off to legendary British Olympian Steven Redgrave.
Beckham didn't actually drive the boat, though, as there was someone to the side of him that was actually controlling it. Camera tricks created the illusion that Beckham was, in fact, the one doing all the work, however. Beckham may not have actually driven the boat as many believed, but his performance was still clutch with the Olympic torch on board.
As a British icon in the world of comedy, it is only fitting that Rowan Atkinson had a big role in the opening ceremony. Atkinson reprised his popular character of Mr. Bean as he pretended to play along with an orchestra as it performed "Chariots of Fire." Atkinson is known for his hilarious facial expressions and physical comedy, and he didn't disappoint in that regard.
The Brits are known for their great sense of humor, and putting a comedy act like Atkinson in the opening ceremony proved that they embrace it. It may not have been the funniest performance that Mr. Bean has ever put forth, but he added some lightheartedness to an event that is normally more about seriousness.
He may be a fictional character, but James Bond is as big of a British celebrity as any existing person. As Atkinson did with Mr. Bean, actor Daniel Craig played the role of Bond in one of the opening ceremony's most entertaining segments. He hovered over the Olympic Stadium in a helicopter and jumped out along with a fake version of Queen Elizabeth II.
Craig's role in the ceremony was actually pretty short-lived, but it was memorable if nothing else. There are few people on Earth cooler than James Bond, so Craig deserves high marks for his performance. He wasn't exactly on the same level as Paul McCartney, but Craig was one of the highlights of a spectacular opening ceremony.
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