Once Upon a Time I Was a Movie Star

Well, ok, not a star. Just an extra. Has anyone ever seen the movie Prefontaine?

Yeah, I didn’t think so. It starred Jared Leto as Steve Prefontaine, an Olympic long-distance runner. The movie is told through the eyes of his assistant coach, Bill Dellinger, played by Ed O’Neill. I can’t find the trailer anywhere, but here’s a little mash up of scenes from the movie set to the 30 Seconds To Mars song, Savior.

(Wasn’t Jared Leto so hot and so ugly at the same time?)

The movie was set in Oregon, but filmed in Tacoma, WA at the University of Puget Sound. A friend of the family worked part-time with a Seattle-based casting agency and organized a huge group of us to be extras. Her son and my brother were on the same baseball team, so she got the teammates plus their families and friends to film a scene. My brother got to film for a few days, but the rest of us were only needed for one day to act as fans at a pee wee football game where Pre learned that he wasn’t good at team sports. We are in a ninety second scene, three minutes into the movie. Not impressive.

Since the movie was set in the '60s and '70s we were told to shop at Goodwill for something appropriate to wear. I got awesome lime green polyester pants and a matching lime green and white houndstooth polyester top. My boyfriend got to wear jeans and a white button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Not fair! My brother wore his football uniform since they were shooting game scenes. My sister had an adorable pink polyester A-line dress with matching jacket. I was so jealous of her find. Over a hundred of us met up at a local school then took buses and caravanned to the college campus about forty minutes away. When we arrived, a costume director looked us over and told us what we needed to change about our outfit or hair. Some people were given new clothes, but ours made the cut.

We hung out in the cafeteria all day waiting to start shooting our night scene. We hung out, played cards, and ate horrible food from craft services. This was early 1996, so My So-Called Life was already cancelled, but like any other teenager, I was still in love with Jordan Catalano Jared Leto. He walked into the cafeteria with his dog (a husky) and sat at a table in the corner, eating alone while we all just stared. How awkward for him.

When it was time to shoot our scene, we gathered outside at the football field. They were very specific about where people would sit. They told my boyfriend and I to sit on the sidelines. You can hardly see us.

My brother was in his football uniform on the field and my mom and sister sat in the bleachers. We filmed one scene (a kickoff with the child version of Prefontaine getting tackled) about thirty times. We were all told to cheer silently during filming of the scene. Then they did about ten takes of us actually cheering and chanting, “Go Pre, Go!” over and over while there was no action on the field. We wrapped around midnight, after four hours on the field, and went home. My brother went back another day so he could film an even shorter scene in a baseball dugout.

About two months later I received a check in the mail for $43.00. Not much, but I would have done it for free. It was such a cool experience! We were told that we could keep ourselves on the list with the talent agency to be extras in other movies that were filmed in the area. Although I couldn’t be in it, my brother, sister, boyfriend, and about fifty other friends of ours were extras in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. My brother also competed in a teen quiz game show hosted by Ryan Seacrest called Click. Unfortunately he was paired up with the world's dumbest girl and didn’t win. What’s even worse is that my parents recorded it on VHS when it aired and I recorded Days Of Our Lives over it because they didn’t label the tape! So this isn’t my brother’s episode, or even any of my friends that were filmed in Seattle, but it still gives you a good idea about how cheesy the show (and Ryan) was.

So yeah, that was my brush with fame. I know it’s not very exciting, but it was an awesome experience to me!

1 comment:

hotpants™ said...

I've always wanted to be an extra. They've filmed quite a few movies in Memphis, but I've never ventured out for anything. I know someone who was an extra in a tv movie, Elvis & Me. They had her cut all of her hair off... it was like 10 inches or more at least. 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU!!!! God, that movie is one of my favorites.