Actor stirs U.K. press, sports fans at 'Charlie' event

In a canny piece of red-carpet showmanship, Tom Hanks turned heads at the Jan. 9 U.K. premiere of “Charlie Wilson’s War” by sporting an Aston Villa soccer club scarf.

Stars declaring their allegiance to a U.K. soccer team always generate lots of press coverage. Last year’s walk onto the Everton pitch by Sylvester Stallone got nearly as much press coverage as the “Rocky Balboa” premiere he was in Blighty to promote.

Hanks says his passion for Aston Villa goes way back.

“I know a good football match when I see one,” he said on the red carpet. “Years ago, I was watching on TV a pretty good game with Aston Villa, and I thought, ‘I like that name and those colors. Anybody can root for Chelsea for god’s sake!”

Villa — from the city of Birmingham and not one of the big four clubs (Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea) that routinely dominate the Premier League — hasn’t tasted major success in recent years, but the team is surging lately following a major investment by American billionaire Randy Lerner.

Inside the Empire, Leicester Square, theater, a suited Hanks ditched the red Villa scarf and kicked up his own pitch, promising attendees the pic delivers “an hour and a half entertainment and a few days of heated discussion around the breakfast table.”

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