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So, by now, it felt pretty late in the day since I started so early. It was probably 4 or 5 in the afternoon, the sun was starting to go behind the buildings and there was a fair amount of shade. It was hot, but it was a very pretty day. They’d told us there was a chance that we might not be needed after all and so I was starting to think that this was the case.
We were on top of a hill in a deserted part of Mansfield, Ohio, that I couldn’t find now if I had to. I just remember a lot of vacant buildings.
After sitting for a while, someone came by and “arranged us” on the hill. Some folks were at the bottom, I was at the top, and so forth. They told us that when they yelled “Action” we should walk in the direction we were facing. So we did.
They didn’t tell us anything else, so the good-looking woman and the guy she was walking with came toward me. The first time we did this, the guy said, “I guess we could nod … people nod and say hello, right?’” … and I nodded. Which we then did about six times. All trying to make sure we walked in exactly the same way, exactly the same pace, nodded the same way, and so forth. [And this is my scene. It’s right before Brooks crosses the street and almost gets run over]
After that, they yelled “CUT” and we all gathered at the bottom of the hill and we all saw our first movie star of the day: James Whitmore [Brooks]. He was under a shade by a trailer just all relaxed. We were bout 50 feet away from him, not under a shade … but by this point, there were long shadows from the buildings so it wasn’t a big deal
The rest of the day is just snippets. I was tired, hungry, and not feeling so great after being so hot, but here’s what I remember:
– One of the Hollywood movie people almost wrecked a vintage Chevy that was borrowed to be used in the film by backing it into another vintage car. He thought it was hilarious for some reason.
– One of the funnier, nicer guys in our group of 15 did manage to wander over by James Whitmore and say something, and Whitmore laughed loudly and nodded. Whitmore seemed really nice.
– The same funnier, nicer guy in our group of 15 got to be on camera well enough you could easily see his face. His costume looked great on him and he had an easy manner in front of the camera.
– Because of where I was sitting, I could see the monitors that the crew was using to watch the scene. So, in the movie, where Brooks tries to cross the street and almost gets run over? I saw the close-up shot of that. They did that part where he stumbles in one take, I believe.
At some point, they said it was a wrap — which we had been told meant we were done — so we all got back in the van, went back to the trailers, and got changed out of my suit, tie, wingtips, and fedora. I remember coming out of the trailer and seeing a beautiful, Midwestern orange-pink-and-purple sunset that somehow always makes the sky look bigger than it really is. It was stunning.
As I was leaving, the nice lady who measured me called out “Bill! Bill!” …which stunned me because nobody all day called me by my name. (Whenever they’d pick extras for a scene, they’d just wander up, point, and say “You … You … aaaaand You.”
She wanted me to walk one of the older extras “home” [back to his car] and “make sure he was OK.” Which I did. Specifically, I remember asking him “Are you OK? And he answered “YES” in a tone that indicated it wasn’t the first time he’d been asked … but then he smiled and said, warmly, “I’m fine. I just need to get home.” “Do you need me to follow you?” “Nah, I’ll be fine.”
And that was it. They told me I didn’t need to come back, so I drove home. I’m pretty sure I was in my worst-ever apartment that didn’t have a shower, just a tub. I remember that the water didn’t soak into my hair when I used my hand-held shower that fit over the tub’s faucet. They’d put so much spray/pomade/etc. on my hair that the water just beaded and ran off. It took forever before it stopped being “crunchy” and started to feel like hair. And I was surprisingly dirty for wearing a suit all day. I just felt gross.
Then I ate something — not sure what, I was so hungry — and drank a lot of beer. Probably Natural Light or Old Milwaukee. It was a Saturday, so I’m sure I drank an awful lot.
Final installment: Watching the movie, but not where you think.Published in