Thursday, March 17, 2022

Microstory 1844: Extra

People often ask me what made me want to be an actor, but I can’t point to anything. There wasn’t a moment when I was enthralled with a character on screen. There wasn’t an emotion I had never felt before. I don’t remember the first three years of my life, but it was that version of me who made the decision for the both of us. As far as I know, I have always been an actor, and I never could have been anything else. I begged my parents to move to Los Angeles, but they refused. I honestly believe they would have agreed to it if we had lived in, I dunno, Tennessee, or something. They were so supportive of my dreams, but we were in New York, so I guess they looked at it as a lateral move. “If you want to act, you can do it here,” my mom would tell me. I didn’t want to do stagework, though. I wanted to be on the screen. I wanted to shoot something once, and have anybody in the world be able to see it again forever and ever. As the years went by, I didn’t let my living situation get in my way. I went to auditions for things that were shooting in the area, and while I didn’t get any roles, I think I gained a lot of great experience. That’s how I saw it. Every failure was just a step towards success. Then I got the audition that changed my life. I can’t remember what the role was exactly. I think I was a little too old for it, but the casting director was handing out little flyers calling for extras. There were going to be huge crowds in the movie, so they were trying to fill out the streets. It was an alien invasion, so we had to run from spaceships flying down to kill us. I thought, all right, it’s just more experience, right? It was so great, being on set around all those people. We were all there for the same thing; to support the main cast, and we all understood our jobs.

I had to join a talent agency to get more parts like that, and I found myself preferring it. I suddenly realized that I no longer wanted to be an actor. Yeah, that’s how I got started, but I ended up enjoying staying in the background. I wasn’t getting noticed, but I met a lot of really cool people, including celebrities, and it was always fun. It was pretty steady work too. Film crews always needed people like me to make it look like their story took place in the real world, instead of a snowglobe, like Waiting For Godot. Then my career changed again. I was in a movie about a demon who could possess recently deceased bodies. In one scene, he was having a menacing conversation with the hero on the battlefield, so there were plenty of fresh bodies to possess. Several of the extras were elevated a little bit to actually say a few lines before crumpling to the ground, and making way for the next possession. Luck of the draw, mine was the last body used before the protagonist realized how to kill the demon permanently. So instead of just falling down like the others, I had to pretend to die. I was given no direction for this, I had to figure it out myself. Everyone on set was extremely pleased with my performance. We nailed that thing in one take, and the audience received it well. People were talking about it online, trying to figure out who I was, because I wasn’t credited for it. This was my big break, and I didn’t even see it coming. Talent agencies started reaching out to me, hoping to book me auditions for speaking parts, and I ended up choosing one out of L.A. By then, I had enough money to get out there on my own, and get back to what I originally wanted. I die today with 56 titles on my résumé, the last of which will have to be released posthumously. My agent says she’ll get me a dedication credit.

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