Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman, Dreamworks' Scrubbing Bubbles

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Winslet and Jackman take a toilet ride. Photo: Getty Images

We were confused when we arrived at the Loews Lincoln Square yesterday for the Flushed Away premiere and couldn't find the red carpet out front, where it usually is. Then we rounded the corner from Broadway onto 68th Street, and it all made sense: Dreamworks had shut down the entire block — West 68th, from Broadway to Columbus — for the event, and it was suddenly very clear to us, and to the rest of neighborhood, what was going on and what we should be doing.

The street was decked in wall-to-wall (curb-to-curb?) blue carpet, which is like red carpet but more toilet-appropriate. And atop the carpet sat a giant inflatable toilet, which enabled the animated film's stars — Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman — to make a dramatic entrance by sliding down the toilet, effectively flushing themselves into the premiere.

One cast member who didn't risk the lavatory chute was 56-year-old Brit Bill Nighy. (Sir Ian McKellan is in the film as well.) As the voice of hench-rat Whitey in the feature, he admits that portraying a rodent has made him somewhat sympathetic to the vermin. "I now embrace mice," he joked. "I don't see why we can't co-exist. I leave a bit of cheese, some crackers, a few biscuits, a bit of cake. They are my people now."

Winslet and Jackman never actually met while making the film (ah, the joys of voice-over work!), but they walked the carpet together, very much dressed for an afternoon premiere. Kate wore a Union Jack T-shirt, a tribute to her character's flag-patterned trousers, and perhaps only slightly different from her own production wardrobe: "Birkenstocks, jeans, and a T-shirt," she reported. (Ah, the joys of voice-over work!) Jackman said working separately was frustrating. "When I saw the film," he said. "I thought, We've got good chemistry, for two people who've never met."

Fiona Byrne