It isn’t every day you hear Gwyneth Paltrow utter the phrase, “Can you say ‘Fuckstick’ a little louder?” But that happened today.
I got up at 5 AM in order to make it to the set by 6:30 AM. I wore a brown shirt and a skirt and some brown shoes to match. I wore some dime store barrettes and some 10 dollar store earrings. And I wore a favorite necklace I purchased on the street for 3 dollars. I “dressed-up” one might say.
I got there early. I’m always early. And I wandered around the vans and trucks in search of where to go and who to see. I scanned the crowd for familiar faces and saw none. Finally, a guy standing outside the restaurant we’d be filming in told me I looked a little lost.
Yeah, I’m supposed to be here at 6:30. I’m an extra. I guess. Karen called?
You see that trailer? That’s where they’re doing wardrobe.
Wardrobe? I thought to myself? I didn’t sign on for “wardrobe.” Why would I have to go to “wardrobe?”
I walked over to the trailer and that’s when I saw Melanie. AHA! A familiar face. I felt relieved. Melanie had some sort of headpiece on and she looked completely insane. It was as if the headpiece, instead of transferring voice, was sending small volts of electricity into the side of her head. If you looked up “multi-tasking” in the dictionary, there’d be a picture of Melanie and her head-piece. I tried to get her attention but failed. So I stood there. Eventually, a guy came out and asked me if I was a “Feature.” To which I quickly replied, NO. I was an extra. Show me where to stand. I merely take commands.
For me, being an Extra meant an experience to break up the monotony of a day. But for most people there it was potentially the pivotal moment to their big break. Which is why, once I got upstairs, I felt entirely goofy and out of place. I was not dolled up. I did not wear enough makeup. I did not fix my hair just so. I was not pedicured, manicured or facicured. I felt a little stupid.
Can I see what you brought to wear?
An attractive woman wearing a killer dress was talking to me. I quickly tried to figure out what she meant by this. I wasn’t naked. I was wearing something I would have worn on a date. And that’s what I was told to do, wear “date clothes” but don’t go overboard. Had I gone overboard?
Well, I have this, I mean, what I have on. And I brought a dress, too. A black one and shoes to match because I know they don’t go with brown. I mean, black ones don’t go with brown.
It’s a good thing she cut me off because I wasn’t sure where I was going with that one.
What you have on is great. You can wear the dress later.
I sat down and tried to blend into the furniture. Women were everywhere. It was so easy to tell the actors from the crew. The crew looked hard and tired. The actors looked like one-dimensional magazine cutouts. I imagined that the key to looking like an actor was somehow convincing oneself that there is indeed a camera on them at all times.
Stacy arrived next. Stacy works with Toby. I was happy to see a familiar face. Meredith arrived a little later and then later still, Kevin showed up. All of us were, in some way, affiliated with where Toby works and Melanie.
About a half an hour later, it was time to head across the street and into the restaurant. As I walked in, I tried hard to dodge the wires and the camera equipment and at the same time look for Gwyneth Paltrow. And then there she was. Sitting at the bar, was the elegant and natural looking Ms. Paltrow. She looked stunning. She wore no makeup and had her hair pulled back in a long ponytail. She sipped on a Strabucks coffee and chatted with another woman. I continued on into the back of the room.
We were positioned around tables. I was seated with Meredith and an unbelievably sweet woman named, Antonia. Antonia is an actress. She became my beacon for the remainder of the morning. She translated things like “You can hold.” Or commands such as “Background”. And something else I can’t remember but I remember her translation which was “clear the lens, zoom in and get rid of the ‘dirty stuff.’ And then she told me we were the “dirty stuff”. She was excellent. Born and raised in Washington, D.C. I am rooting for her.
Somehow, I ended up in a scene. I learned that it’s really hard to NOT speak and talk at the same time. Which is what we were to do, Antonia, Meredith and I, talk to one another without using our voice. We did about 13 takes total. Every angle was filmed and at times Antonia and I had to sit really close to one another. (Which I am told seems odd in real life but will look totally normal on film.) It’s a good thing I liked Antonia and wore a lot of deodorant. We were warned on two occasions that we were in the shot and to “do our best.”
Not to put any pressure on you two.
(No pressure at all, sir. Can I puke now?)
The lead male actor, who I couldn’t place but recognized immediately, turned out to be none other than Dominic West. And the woman was a beautiful blond who kept referring to Gwyneth as “Gwynie”. The story, though foggy, apparently is that of a date gone wrong. The guy is sort of a wanker who keeps saying extraordinarily rude things. One, of which, is calling the waiter a “fuckstick”.
Overall, the experience was totally worth it and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. There is a pretty good chance someone might actually see my ugly mug sipping on a fake vodka cranberry (which I accidentally drank twice. Something you’re warned to NOT do because it’s gross and has been sitting around for hours and hours). Kevin had to pretend eat a pasta dinner. Antonia had to fake drink a beer (which was actually really old, flat ginger ale.)
I’m so tired, though. And I now have the word “Fuckstick” tourettically running through my head.
I love you Mihow. Could you be more grounded and down to earth? (and although you don’t know it, one of the cutest girls there I’m sure)
I smooch you.
I love your words. Facicured. Hee.
can’t wait to see it!!!!!! that is so cool. michele, you’ve been imortalized in my heart for a long time, now, you’re immortalized on the big screen for everyone to enjoy!!!!! sweet
The Dominick was Dominick West—the star of mine and Missy’s favorite series about Baltimore crack dealers.
Holy shit! I KNEW he looked familiar. So cool. Thanks, TJ.
Wow, that’s really cool. Some people are just professional extras, from what I’ve heard. You make pretty good money and free food and you get to see people like “Gwynnie” say “fuckstick.” It makes my job/school seem pretty boring!