I stumbled across some reviews of a Sundance favorite, recently. And by “stumbled across” I mean I’ve been googling this movie every week since last February until finally, I ran into some news. If you recall, my sister and I were lucky enough to be extras in the film, The End of the Tour, starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, we’re basically famous. If by famous we can agree that I mean we walked past those two big names several times in the course of an afternoon. Good. We agree. As it turns out, this film, that some thought might not even get off the ground, has been racking up rave reviews and might even be on the Oscar track. What does this mean for your favorite blogger? Absolutely nothing but this strategic grab at trending google searches.
My bet is that I ended up on the cutting room floor rather than peeking coyly around corners (as I blatantly looked into the camera) in my 90s-appropriate mom jeans. If I see my Jordache-clad butt on the silver screen, I might honestly die. I mean, what a claim to fame. This is the sort of tidbit that could tide this spotlight-seeking writer over for at least a year. If I end up in the movie, that is. Of course, by “in the movie” I mean more “blurry and briefly in the background” and less “Nicholas Cage”. But still. What will likely happen is that my sister will be featured in every Oscar clip and press-packet and I’ll just have to stomp around, exasperatedly tossing my hands in the air and reliving that fateful day when we spent no less than twelve hours on the least glamorous set of all time.
In short, being an extra is terrible. I clawed my way into the biz by fortuitously sharing a house with a friend of one of the location directors. She set us up and we showed up, unprepared and starry-eyed. I took the day off work, just knowing that I was going to snarkily quip my way into the right person’s heart and end up writing the next hit screenplay. What actually happened was a numb bum and a bruised ego. After hours of waiting in a GVSU math classroom and delighting the surrounding teens with facts I (and I alone) remembered from the actual 90s, we were hauled intermittently into wardrobe (where I was dressed as a “member of the faculty” and made to shout my dress size across the crowded room) and lined up to be sized up by an assistant director of some sort so he could pick the right look for special classroom scenes. With dialogue, even. My sister and I didn’t make the grade for the classroom scenes, and were herded back into the discard pile to sit for three thousand more hours.
About four times throughout the marathon day, we were hauled out to participate (however briefly) in a scene. In the first scene, the other chubby girl and I were paired to walk across campus and through the frame. We waddled, mom-butts swaying in the GVSU air and pretended to gesture toward indiscriminate groups of extras in the foreground. We nodded emphatically and laughed (silently) while touching shoulders and again, pointed vaguely into the foreground. It was a true masterclass in pantomime. I’m told that while we were engrossed in our “motivation”, Jesse and Jason were casually strolling behind us, quite possibly saying some things. We did three or four more takes (at this point I had become very good at walking while gesturing) and were then herded back into our servants’ quarters.
The next scene involved hurriedly walking past the frame of an open classroom door as Jason delivered the line, “Don’t expect too much”. Since other chubby girl had been one of the chosen few for inside the classroom, I was paired with other old lady, instead. Except, this lady was legitimately old. With scary witch hair, and an eccentricity that was giving me cause for concern. Because, this lady was attempting to bond with me. In her mind, we belonged together. Our pairing made sense to her. We trudged past the open classroom door as quickly as we could each time but without success. The word, “CUT!” sliced through the air and impaled my old, chubby heart each time we failed to get in frame.
Our final scene was a true test of skill. We were told to start out standing in the hallway and then to walk to a pre-determined end point. This scene evolved and I was eventually placed on a bench with a sixteen-year-old girl who thought pantomiming looked like anything Sofia Vergara ever does. That girl ruined my future acting career with her dumb teenager brain as I glared ten feet down the hallway, trying to mentally murder my sister. She had been placed directly next to Jason and Jesse and coolly chatted with them between takes. They did talk about me, and waved halfheartedly once, throwing breadcrumbs of celebrity my way, but the damage was done. She was dead to me (for the remainder of the day).
I managed a quick, “I’m fine” in response to Jason’s very cordial, “Hi, how are you?” as I shuffled past him, trying to nonchalantly work my mom-jeans camel-toe situation out of my downstairs. And that was it. We had put in a twelve hour day, made no friends (because everyone was dumb) and I might, if we’re all lucky, get to see my camel-toe on the big screen after the mass release. But likely, what will happen is I’ll circulate this blog and ride the wave of Oscar-buzz until nobody cares anymore.
Here’s hoping for larger-than-life front wedgies. Am I right?