How things got started pt.1

A few weeks ago they advertised a public audition for Extra roles in Gone Girl.  It was at the Rose Theater on Southeast Missouri State University’s campus.  It ran all day Saturday and attracted around 1400 people.

Erika and her co-worker Whitney were quite excited at the possibility of being cast as an extra in the film.  They made plans to audition and of course I went along with them.  I couldn’t imagine how a mass public “audition” could work, and it indeed was as simple as I guessed.  We stood in line for about an hour until we finally made our way backstage to an area where we gave the casting company staff our info sheet and they took our pictures with an iPhone.  Not much to it.

A week or two went by and we started hearing about people getting called.  Unfortunately none of the three of us were called about a role.  Oh well.  The opportunity just to participate in the audition was a neat experience.

Thursday, September 5th, I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize.  I let it go to voice mail as usual.  I was at work anyway.  A bit later I listened to the message and, though barely able to hear the message through the garbled static of the caller’s bad signal, could tell it was from a girl from the casting company and that she wanted me to come in for an interview the next day.  She left her phone number, of which I could make out 6 digits.  I correctly guessed the 7th digit the second time I tried to call, and thankfully had a clearer connection to facilitate an understandable conversation.  The interview was at 1:00 the next day at the Drury Lodge.  I didn’t have to wear anything special, just show up.

I work part time as a programmer for MedAssets, an awesome company with a sizable branch in Cape.  My hours aren’t strict at all so my boss was totally cool with me skipping work the next day for the interview.  So Friday the 6th I left school to go directly to the lodge and see what this was all about.

When I arrived I was directed to a meeting room where there were about 12 other clueless people and two Gone Girl staff.  We did some paperwork filling out our measurements and such and had two more pictures taken of us.  Finally one of the assistant directors came in and introduced herself.

Her name is Mollie, and she is actually a Mizzou grad.  She is very outgoing and extremely nice and entertained us with stories from working in Hollywood while we waited for Paul, her boss, also an assistant director to come in and check us out.  She also described what job we were actually there to interview for – a position as a stand-in.  Stand-ins, she said, are picked solely by their looks.  She made it clear that if we weren’t picked it had nothing to do with us and that we were all great people.  We just didn’t have quite the right build or complexion or height or eye color that the director is looking for.  A stand-in has to have all these bodily qualities so that they can stand in on the set where the actors would be while the cameras are aligned, shots are planned, and lighting is configured.  That way everything would be fine when the time came to roll camera and the actors came on set to take our places and do their performances.

At this point I was getting excited – at the beginning of the day I still thought it was for an Extra role, but this was something much bigger.  This meant working every day that your actor was working on the set for 13+ hours.  It meant standing in front of David Fincher and reciting lines from the script while they blocked out the set configuration.  It was huge.

Now that everyone was on the edge of their seat, Paul came in.  He told us a little about what he’s done in Hollywood including working on all three Hangover movies.  He told us that Fincher likes to have his stand-ins read the script while they are working.  He then had us all stand up and group with the other contenders for our positions.

When my picture was taken, I was given a whiteboard with my name and “Desi/Jeff” written on it.  I haven’t read Gone Girl, but Erika has.  She of course was going crazy as I was feeding her as much info as possible via text before the A.D.’s (assistant directors) came in.  She didn’t remember Jeff but she said Desi was one of the main supporting characters being played by Neil Patrick Harris… whaaaaaaat.  So as we all gathered around Paul, I stood with two other dudes in the running for Desi/Jeff.  One guy looked way more like NPH than I do, but he was two inches shorter than me.  The other guy had brown hair.  At that point I didn’t really know what my chances were, but it was at least one in three.  Paul went around the circle asking everyone their height, then had a moment with us where he kind of sized us up and looked us straight in the eye for a few seconds.  It was a strange moment…

And that was it.  That was all the “interview” consisted of.  It makes sense considering the job is based entirely on appearances.  They sent us home with the promise of another phone call if we were needed for the next round of interviews (Paul said there would be 2-3 rounds).

That’s it for this post.  I need to get a week’s worth of homework done then drive to Carbondale to get set up in my hotel room.  I’ll make another post tonight detailing my second “interview” and being in close proximity to a real Hollywood movie set!

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