Well, I got home pretty late from shooting Green Hornet last night. I signed a confidentiality agreement so there’s not THAT much I can tell you, but I CAN tell you what I ate at craft service (crafty, to the natives). I ate: one unfrosted Strawberry Pop Tart, 1/2 of a BBQ chicken wrap, one Beef Kabob, some asparagus, one small roasted potato, a cup of hot chocolate*, 4 tiny chocolate chip cookies*, 2 Hershey’s miniatures of the Dark Chocolate variety*, a handful of Pita chips, two turkey meatballs, a piece of Provolone, 3 Snackwell’s cookies and a Diet A&W Rootbeer. And I rate this as restraint. I strongly considered eating something called an “Uncrustable” and when I vetoed that I thought seriously about that last chocolate/peanut butter granola bar that someone had obviously stepped on. C’mon, it was smashed, but the wrapper was still intact! I hope you note that I ate not one piece of fruit.

But seriously, here are some deets: First of all, everyone was really nice to me. Maybe you want dirt about the stars, but you ain’t gonna get any here. I did get to speak the teeny weeniest bit of French with Michel Gondry, but the man had a lot on his mind and even though I had hoped that we would eat lunch together and talk verb conjugations, that was not to be. He gave me the note to “make faster your lines.” I did. An interesting thing did happen- though for the people directly affected I think it was a shock. One of the actors in my scene was released once we got on the set and replaced with a female background player who was given his line. It was a disappointing day for him and a joyous day for her. She just joined SAG last week. The rest of the day, all the other extras treated her like she was unicorn. She became that myth of “the extra who gets upgraded.” It happens, people. She was a little gung-ho for only having one line, and I found her charming ultimately, but I must admit to cringing when she said, “I’m going to talk to Michel about all the different ways I could act this line.” And she did. I think he told her to “just say it.” We were shooting at an estate in Beverly Hills that is on the market for $125 Million. Not a typo. It’s a French Chateau style place. You know, a little 45,000 square foot abode with a rose garden and servants’ quarters. It really was an astonishingly gorgeous place, but I would not be able to live there. For too long, at least.
Most of the day I was wrestling with some ego issues that surfaced. To be a day player on a set like that is To Be Out of Place. I fully admit that one of the reasons I love doing commercials is that the cast is small and you’re all the stars. On a movie like this, you’re listed on the call sheet as CAST, but you’re not REALLY. I mean, once they let go the other actor in my scene, there was no one there of my same “status.” Sure, I could have tried to pal around with Seth Rogen or whip out some more timid French with Michel, but am I really going to do that? No. I’m not that guy. I’ve seen actors do it, but it’s not me and I sure ain’t gonna start right when I’m leaving. I do my job and then try to be invisible. Because we were shooting at this estate, my trailer was at Base Camp a few miles away. There was a Green Room on site that I could have gone to but I would have been away from everyone else and reading my book in solitary. So I spent most of the day sitting on a folding chair in the cobblestone driveway in the shade. At least that way, I could see what was going on. My loneliness got the best of me though around lunch and I chatted with the background actors. Extras are a special breed and I found myself not wanting to be associated with them as soon as I pulled up my chair. But Pandora’s box was opened. All they do is talk about the business. Seriously. They talk about the call times and session fees and meal penalties non-stop. Now, they all seemed like very nice people and I know how it is to be in a group and feel that you have to top whatever has just been said. And that is what was happening. It only takes one extra to say, “I worked with Johnny Depp” and we are off to the Name-Drop Races. Then they asked me how I got my role. A couple of them were surprised that I had auditioned and that I had *GASP* an agent. What I still don’t understand about Background Actors is this: Do they want to do anything besides be background? They all seemed to have decided that it was their career. I was totally judging them [Irene, you are a bitch]. One guy said that he “usually” does commercials. I said that I do them too. He challenged me by saying, “Do you have anything running?” I was happy to tell him yes [Irene, this validates you] and I told him what. Then I asked if he had anything running. And he said, “well, as background you don’t get residuals.” I had misunderstood him. I thought he did commercials as a principal and movies as background. I felt myself wanting to pull away from the group but I think the damage had been done [Irene, no one has noticed/needed you since noon. No damage has been done]. When someone like Michel or Seth or, frankly, anyone walked by, I wished I had had a sign that said, “Remember me? I’m not one of them.” Isn’t that terrible? Yes, it is, but it is how I felt and I was aware at the time that my ego was in overdrive.
Another weird thing that I was talking with one of the make-up ladies about: there is an actor in the movie who is a Taiwanese SUPERSTAR. I mean, SUPERSTAR. Like if Brad Pitt was also a singer, that’s what this guy is. And we couldn’t have cared less. He was walking around and nobody bothered him. That’s gotta be a strange status switch for him. He didn’t speak great English so I couldn’t chat with him about my theories. That and the fact that he probably thought I was background. Or an actual maid.
Honestly, it was a lovely day and I’m so happy to have done it. I go back on November 18th. Maybe by then the sting will have worn off my ego.

*Late in the day Chocolate Emergency

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