Honest Mistake or Clever Plot?

I could have been famous.

Nineteen ninety-five was a year for adventure. Signing with an O.C. casting agency, I was able to work on a film in L.A. Part of the movie was being shot in LAX's international wing. My part as an extra was one of four airport security people. We were outfitted with official uniforms and badges. Before the filming began, the assistant director told me to go to one of the trailers out in back on the tarmac and get my uniform. I asked which one, and she said, "The one with the brown stripes."

I walked out to the row of trailers, too embarrassed to admit I was slightly color-blind. I picked one with stripes and went in. A very attractive girl escorted me to a chair and began doing my hair, then adding makeup to my face and neck. I had never been so humbled, because in my brain I knew this was not standard procedure for extras. After an hour, I was sent out and found the wardrobe trailer, where I was outfitted.

Once I arrived on the set, I was whisked over to the director. He asked where the hell I had been for two hours. I blushed and said, "In makeup." He told me that extras don't get makeup. Was I trying to be funny? I said not at all—I got the wrong trailer and was swept into a chair before I could utter a word of objection.

The day progressed, and I felt kinda special with makeup, like a star would feel after royal treatment. It must have made some impression, because the director let me try out for a small speaking part. If he had chosen me, I would have gotten my SAG card and my life might have been completely different. Alas, I was too nervous, and my voice crackled when I spoke the lines. Four tried out, the girl with the SAG card got the part in the end. Studio saved $1600.00 and I remained an extra. I went on to do Cable Guy, Perry Mason (TV version), Apollo 13. In the process met Jim Carey, Matthew Broderick, Hal Holbrook, Ken Curchival, Ron Howard, and many fine professional background professionals.

Background work is a fine occupation, but the pay scale is low, hours long, and unpredictible. Still, the memories are among my most cherished, proud of the work.

The movie was _Sleep, Baby, Sleep,_ with Tracey Gold.


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