THOUSANDS used to cycle to and from work at Portsmouth Naval Base, and yesterday Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe followed in their tracks.
The Oscar-winning actor took a break from shooting his new film, Les Miserables, inside a set on the base, to go for a cycle around the docks in the glorious sunshine.
Crowe was in the city to film the opening scenes of the adaptation, where he stars as the formidable Inspector Javert.
The 47-year-old was on a set created in No. 9 dock, which is a dry dock, with fellow actors Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.
One passer-by, who was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Crowe, said: ‘During his lunch break Russell took a break from filming and went to his trailer for five minutes and emerged in his bike gear.
‘He waved over to five girls waiting at the gate and got on his bike.
‘As he departed the VIP area, which is normally a car park, he smiled this amazing smile for this picture and then went for a ride with a friend around the docks.’
Having arrived on Monday, the crew filmed for two days before leaving for Winchester this morning.
And their presence created quite a stir within the city.
Trish Beever, 51, of Britain Street, Portsea, said: ‘I saw a girl wandering about The Hard wearing a Victorian dress, and later on I saw a boy in old-fashioned clothes too.
‘I wondered what was going on and thought it must’ve been something in the Historic Dockyard, but then I found out it was a film.
‘It’s really exciting to have something like that going on in Portsmouth, I can’t wait to see it now.’
The stars were put up in the Langstone Hotel, Hayling Island, while the production crew stayed at the Royal Maritime Club, The Hard, along with their costumes and equipment.
Martin Richardson, who is on the operation team at the Royal Maritime Club, said: ‘It’s been interesting for us, but we’ve had to keep it all very low key and sectioned off an area of the hotel for them to use.
‘I’m really pleased they chose to come to Portsmouth and that they are using a real setting rather than making one. It will be great to see parts of the city on the big screen.’
The film is released in December. Auditions were held for extras earlier this year in Portsmouth.