Woburn, MA resident William Malcolm has played a baseball fan in Fever Pitch, a photographer in The Game Plan, a professor in 21, a shopper in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and a doctor in a mysterious Japanese documentary. You might also spot him in See Kate Run, “Empire State,” or the new Diet Pepsi commercial. No, Malcolm isn’t an A-list celeb; he’s just having fun as an extra in Hollywood East.
HEC: How did you get started as a film and television extra?
It all started in October of 2004. A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to a casting. I thought we were going up to Gloucester to see this big statue being cast. We started heading to Allston, and I said, “Gee, I didn’t know there was a foundry in Allston,” at which point he explained that we were going to a movie casting. We went to Boston Casting for the Fever Pitch open call. That’s how I got my start.
HEC: Did you have any training or education in acting?
I didn’t have any training or acting education. I’ve learned a lot on the job though. You really just have to listen to the crew and do what you’re told. On the set of Fever Pitch, they picked me and an older woman to walk as a couple close to Drew Barrymore. I walked through the scene too quickly, and the director said, “Do you want to be in this movie? Just relax. Enjoy it.” I did just that.
HEC: What are the best and worst parts of being a movie extra?
The most trying part of the job is the waiting around. Call time may be at 5:30 in the morning, but things usually don’t start happening until 9:30 or 10am. At that point, there’s this huge flurry of activity. My social calendar isn’t very busy, and I’m three-quarters retired from my job as an employee assistant professional, so I have the hours to spare.
I would say that the best part of the job is just connecting with other people during all the waiting around. You encounter a tremendous cross-section of people on the job, people from all walks of life.
HEC: Any advice for people trying to break into the biz as an extra?
Don’t stand out too much. I have white hair and a white beard, so I stick out like a sore thumb. I usually don’t get into a lot of scenes because the people in charge of film continuity come in and kick me out. A lot of extras get away with changing their wardrobes, but it’s hard to “recycle” me. Kevin Spacey kept walking by in this particular scene in 21, and I had to be moved out. Everyone was in dark clothes, but I just sort of glowed. I was moved down the street into the out-of-focus section.
But seriously, if you’re really interested in getting work, sign on with a couple of different agencies, Boston Casting is really good, and I’ve gotten a few jobs with C.P. Casting and through Billy Dowd.
And don’t be pushy. The crew is always very helpful, but it’s easy to get frustrated and upset during the long work days. You just sort of have to roll with the punches to make it easy on yourself and everyone else. Your not going to be supplementing a 401k with this deal, so you may as well enjoy it.
HEC: What has been your most memorable experience thus far?
It was really fun working so close to the principal actors in Fever Pitch. While I was chatting with Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon was bouncing toward us through the crowd. He immediately introduced himself, “I’m Jimmy!” I said, “Yeah, I know.” Drew turned to me and said, “It’s difficult working with someone who’s so depressed all the time.”
HEC: Do you have dreams of making it big in the movie biz?
At my age, unless there’s a big upswing in Flowmax or Depends commercials, I don’t have a bright future in acting. For me it’s really not a job; it’s a hobby. You can definitely make a job out of it, but I don’t want to do that. I’m just having a good time doing a local gig every once in a while.
According to an August 24 post on The Playlist, scouts for The Social Network have recently been scouring Boston and Cambridge for potential filming locations. Based on the founding of Facebook, The Social Network will hit Boston for more than just the tax incentives; the concept of Facebook was in fact born in a Harvard dorm.
With production scheduled to begin next month, the project is already well underway. Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, “The West Wing”, Charlie Wilson’s War) adapted the script from Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, and Columbia Pictures is in “advanced talks” with David Fincher (Fight Club, Panic Room, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) to direct. Kevin Spacey will produce alongside Dana Brunetti and Scott Rudin.
An August 22 post on End of Show reports that the film is currently backed by a $47 million budget.
Columbia Pictures: The Not-So-Accidental Billionaires.
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