- by Karen Tintori
Hollywood has come to Michigan, I haven’t yet sleuthed out how to sign on for “extras” work, and at this very minute George Clooney is somewhere within a half hour of my house.
A woman who works at Detroit’s Metro Airport where he’s filming stood within fifteen feet of him yesterday, separated only by a barricade, and later told reporters that he’s “very, very handsome. And cute, too.” A childhood friend of mine who lucked into meeting him in Florida a couple of weeks ago told me that it was his voice that got to her. I am intensely envious of them both. I would kill to be an extra in a George Clooney film.
Back in the early ’90s, when Jill Gregory and I began writing fiction together, our editor asked us one thing — to make certain that one of our characters, an actress, didn’t come off as a cardboard cliche.
Not a problem, I’d informed her. My brother was on location up in Toronto, editing USED PEOPLE. Research would be a cinch. Little did Jill and I know when we called to ask my brother if we could be flies on the set walls that he’d do us one better. He turned us over to the extras casting director and within the week we were in Toronto, on the set, and in costume, standing less than fifteen feet away from Shirley MacLaine, Marcello Mastroiani, Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy and Marcia Gay Harden.
Ah, the things we writers do for research. If you’ve seen EXTRAS, the Ricky Gervais series, you have some clue about the five days we spent in the movies. Five days of heaven, and five days of hell.
The costumes for instance. We were set loose to pick through racks of clothes, boxes of shoes, purses, gloves, accessories — all of them looking like they come fresh from a Salvation Army donation bin. Once we’d found things that fit, it was on to hair and make up. The photo below speaks for itself. And yes, that’s my hair — all of it. What you can’t see are the swaths of chalk white eye shadow and the swooping wings of thick black eyeliner they painted on us. (It was a period piece, you know. Something we were laughing too hard to explain to the businessmen who propositioned us in the hotel elevator one night or to the couple who took one look at us entering the elevator another night and, in unison, turned their young children’s faces away to protect them from us.)
Oh, those costumes. It’s bad enough to realize you have B.O. But when the B.O. wafting up from your armpits is not your own, and you know you have a full day and much of the night ahead of you in a reeking raffia two-piece get-up, and you also are cursed with an exceptional sense of smell, and the costume department manager tells you they’ll “hit it with heavy duty deodorizer” that evening and tomorrow will be better…it’s a moment worthy of Ricky Gervais. For tomorrow you’ll be wearing the same unwashed costume, spritzed with some industrial-strength precursor to Febreze. Are we havin’ a laugh?
Jill and I certainly learned more than we bargained for during our adventure in movie making. It was an experience we still fall into hysterics over, and neither of us ended up on the cutting room floor. And of the four female leads we created for SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLUE, it was our actress character who Cosmopolitan Magazine chose to feature in their book excerpt.
Nearly two decades have passed since our stint in the movies, and although we’re not writing an actress character at the moment, I’m ready for another go at the bright lights and the pancake makeup. Especially if it gets me within fifteen feet of George Clooney.