At the Hollywood premieres of the swashbuckling "Zorro" and gross-joke-chucking "Mary," celebs turned back the clock.

By Tricia Laine
July 24, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

It was in one era and out the other for celebs attending the L.A. premieres of There’s Something About Mary and The Mask of Zorro last week. On July 9, the folks at Twentieth Century Fox turned an outdoor party in Westwood into Cumberland High prom night, circa 1986, to celebrate the release of Mary, Bobby and Peter Farrelly‘s latest gross-out comedy. As a cover band belted out such ’80s staples as Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” (“I requested it,” said Chris Elliott, who plays Ben Stiller‘s best friend in the film), Mary star Cameron Diaz held court like a real prom queen. Counted among her subjects: Seal, Sara Gilbert, Kathy Griffin (who effused, “Cameron is some sort of weird, perfect human organism”), and costars Stiller and Matt Dillon, Diaz’s real-life beau. “I won’t have any chance to cut loose tonight,” Diaz admitted while receiving congratulatory kisses. “I haven’t even had a drink yet, and I’ve been here for half an hour.” Nothing stopped Claire Danes, however, who lip-synched Modern English’s “I Melt With You” to her Aussie rocker boyfriend Ben Lee, whose “How to Survive a Broken Heart” appears on the film’s soundtrack.

From high schools to haciendas: The following night, celebrities attending the Zorro fete were transported to the 19th century via TriStar’s Latin-themed gala at L.A.’s historic Wilshire Ebell Theater. The mood was enhanced by real flamenco dancers, castanet-wielding babes, and an expert whip handler, who snuffed out candle flames with a flick of his wrist. Possibly he snapped out a few tongues, too, as the celebrity guests—among them Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Zorro costar Anthony Hopkins—shunned the press for the most part as they strolled down a rose-petaled red carpet. The only talkative star was the young Zorro himself, Antonio Banderas, who arrived with wife Melanie Griffith. Unmasked for the night, he joked about the rigors of being the guest of honor: “It’s more difficult than sword fighting.” he said. “I’m just praying to go home and see my baby daughter before she goes to bed.” Guess she wanted to catch some Zs too.

(Additional reporting by Jessica Shaw)

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