So I’m officially a movie star.
Okay, not really. But if you go to see “Love is Strange” at the Tribeca Film Festival in a week or so, or whenever it gets a wider release, you will see yours truly on the screen in this film about a gay couple getting married after decades together — and having their lives thrown into confusion because of it. The exact number of seconds of screen time I was granted is yet to be seen, but my guess is that it’s under sixty. This is almost definitely related to the fact that I was an extra.
Being an extra was something that sounded interesting to me because of my inadequately concealed belief that all that’s standing between me and my big break is the right exposure. Clearly a director would take one look at my extensive acting stills (ignoring the immaterial info that my last theater credit was freshman year of college) and bump me up to a leading role — or at least suggest I get an agent.
This, of course, did not happen.
Instead I spent a few hours on a lovely fall afternoon standing outside a church in the West Village. The film’s leads, Alfred Molina and John Lithgow, were shooting a scene in which they walk down the sidewalk and stop outside the church. I was one of several extras and my job was to amble down the sidewalk behind the leads, alongside a guy about my age, and then pass them and go into the church.
And so I did. The guy I was ambling with told me about his budding career in background work. This gig wasn’t paid, but he didn’t have anything booked that day so he figured he might as well show up. One of the other extras was also a professional; while she had an office job, she also had done commercials, plays, and other work in the past. Most of the rest of the extras were tourists that the extras casting director had pulled off the street. This meant that their clothes weren’t always church appropriate, so Wardrobe had to find them shirts or jackets to slip on. I’d worn one of my normal work dresses, so I was fine.
I’d heard about the opportunity through Facebook, because one of the people associated with the film was an alum of my college choir and had posted on the group’s Facebook page. After the shoot I introduced myself to him and we chatted about college and choir. He did not suggest I quit my day job – but you never know. Maybe some casting director will see my twenty-seven seconds of fame and discover me.
Then again, maybe not.
At the very least, I can now say I’ve been in a movie (something I’ll definitely work into conversations at cocktail parties, because my accomplishment list is still a little sparse). And I’ll tell my kids (the ones I may have many, many years from now), “I could’ve been big! I could’ve been a star!” They’ll probably laugh at me, but they’d do that anyway.
I unfortunately have choir rehearsal the night of the Tribeca screening, so I’ll have to wait for wider release. Who wants to go with me? And has anyone else gotten to be an extra?