updated 06/20/2008 AT 10:40 AM ET
•originally published 06/20/2008 AT 11:45 AM ET
Julia Roberts may be a global superstar, but Thursday night Abigail Breslin was the focus of screaming fans – hordes of little girls, that is – at the premiere of Kit Kittredge: An American Girl.
Roberts, as one of the film’s executive producers, made an appearance on the red carpet at Manhattan’s Ziegfield Theatre, along with Julianne Moore and her kids, and Jada Pinkett Smith and daughter Willow, who appears in the movie. But it was 12-year-old Breslin, the lead in the film inspired by the American Girl doll phenomenon, who drew the star worship, with packs of girls – many of them carrying their American Girl dolls – swarming, screaming and trying to track her with their cell phones.
Breslin told PEOPLE she also relates to the Girl craze. “I grew up with all the dolls,” she said. “I collected all the dolls since I was eight or so. I’ve just always liked the dolls, and Kit was always my favorite.”
The swarm continued at the film’s afterparty, held – where else? – at the American Girl store on nearby 5th Avenue. As Breslin sat with her family, the buffet table at the event was overflowing with pink cupcakes, feathers, flowers and cotton candy, girls were clamoring to get their photo taken with the young star.
Chris O’Donnell, who plays Breslin’s dad on screen, was struck by his little costar’s composure throughout it all. “Seeing Abigail walk in and hearing the crowd cheer for her, I feel like we’ve got a little Shirley Temple on our hands,” O’Donnell told PEOPLE. “It’s so sweet. She handles it so well. When we were with her in Chicago, I’m telling you there was a line 100 girls long. It was like they were waiting for Santa Claus.”