George Clooney shared the spotlight with the real life monuments men at the premiere of his new war movie in London on Tuesday night (12Feb14).

The actor/director stepped out in the British capital to launch his new film The Monuments Men, about the team of art experts sent to track down masterpieces stolen by the Nazis in World War Ii, and he welcomed two of the last surviving members to the glitzy event.

Harry Ettlinger, 88, who is said to have inspired the character played by Dimitri Leonidas, walked the red carpet with the film's cast, including Matt Damon, Hugh Bonneville, Bill Murray and Jean Dujardin. He also had the honour of sharing the stage with the actors as Clooney introduced the film.

During Clooney's speech to the audience at the Odeon Leicester Square, he praised the real life heroes and brought Ettlinger out to rapturous applause, saying "One of the real life monuments men is here with us and we'd love to bring out our dear friend Harry Ettlinger."

Another of the real life war heroes present at the premiere was Brit Anne Olivier Bell, 97, the only female officer who served among the monuments men.

The characters in the film are loosely based on the real monuments men, but Clooney insists he didn't want to use any real names onscreen to avoid upsetting their families, saying, "We wanted to change the names, because we wanted to be able to tell a story. We weren't doing a documentary, we didn't want to give any of these real men flaws that would be upsetting to their families. We wanted our ability to be able to tell a story without offending anyone."