Hello, awesome Moviepilot people. Today I've got a special treat for you. You might have heard of a really cool new movie that premiered on Monday, Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. What you might not know is that I was actually in that movie. I live in Portland, OR, and got the really neat opportunity of being a background actor (fancy word for extra, let's be real) in Wild.
It was awesome. When you see the movie, look for the bright red hair.
It was also one of the most ridiculous days of my life, because I am a ridiculous human, and the story... well, let's say the movie isn't the only thing that was wild.
So I got a video for you! I'm gonna tell you all about what happened, and boy-howdy, was it weird (and in retrospect, freaking hilarious). Here I go!
If you're more of a reading kind of person, then I have taken the liberty of sharing it in written story-form below, taken from my original blog post a year ago, where it went semi-viral due to the ridiculousness that is me and my adventures. Enjoy!
So some of you might know that yesterday (last year, by this time) I was a “background actor” (fancy word for ‘extra, but paid/in close camera/movie star promximity extra’) in a Reese Witherspoon movie currently in production, called “WILD.” (Based on the acclaimed book. I haven’t read it, but now I feel like I kind of have to. Yay reading!)
And that in itself was really fun and amazing, simply getting to be in the same 10-foot radius of Reese WItherspoon was really cool. (She is tiny, shorter than my mom, like a foot and a half shorter than me, and aside from that looked the literal same as in Legally Blonde. Just more pixie-like. She’s like what, 35, and looks younger than me? Anti-aging Hollywood witchcraft.) And she was sweet and happy and everyone on set seemed to love her, because she apparently really is nice and does stuff like randomly brightening peoples’ day or buying the entire crew very fancy coffee.
So that was cool. But that was not, by far, the most exciting thing to happen that day. It’s kind of a long story, but if you want to hear why two policemen, my handler, her assistant, the director of the freaking movie, and the entire crew of dozens of people I had never met were all laughing at me… read on.
In my dad’s words, this is the story I’m someday going to be telling on a late-night talk show. And you heard it here first.
Because it was so involved, surreal, and rapid, just one thing after the other, I think I should write it down in number/chronological format. And bolding key words for maximum continuity/hilarity. The things that happened were these:
First for reference, that's me, RoAnna Sylver, the flame-haired nerd (and published author) who went through all this craziness.
- Wake up at 5:00 AM for 7 AM call time at shooting location in downtown Portland. I have never driven down there before, ever, always taking the train or buses places. So to help me, my awesome Hagrid-like dad let me follow him in on his way to work, and helped me find the random parking garage we were supposed to park in. So, though sleepy as hell (NOT A MORNING PERSON NO NO NOT NEITHER NO DISAGREE), this goes off smoothly and I am very grateful for his help. It’s across the river, a fact that will be important later.
- Get to Background Holding Area. Around 20 other people, in an emptied Chinese restaurant, with very nice catered food that… I also will get back to later.
- I go through wardrobe (okayed immediately, they’re all my clothes and I don’t have to borrow anything~), hair and makeup. Interestingly, they remove my carefully-done makeup (that they told me to do) and then put on a great deal of makeup to create the ILLUSION of not wearing ANY. I just thought that was funny.
- Upon finishing processing and wardrobe (again, all my clothes), I’m hanging with the other actors, and there’s this one lady who I think I might have seen before, but don’t really know. However she definitely remembers me. (We were on GRIMM together.) But I am terrible with remembering faces and names, so I don’t know her at all… and this is why I am taken by surprise when she looks me up and down, comments on my nice clothes, and then says “Do you ever go to naked lady parties?” I blink. Moment of silence. (It’s 6 AM. My brain isn’t working yet.) Then I say, “That was the most directly I think I’ve ever been hit on. Go you!” She laughs and explains that “naked lady party” is a word I do not know, for parties where you bring a bunch of clothes you don’t want anymore, and she thought I would enjoy that. I’m flustered and embarrassed and almost implode into a blushing supernova and kind of blurt out a nonsensical stream of noises (“Ahdhg - hg- HHG? I - OH! OH! Okay! I have a girlfriend! Aah! I don’t care!”), but manage to laugh it off.
- This was my first indication that the day might be heading in an unusual direction. But this was just the beginning.
- Back to it, I'm taken by shuttle back to parking garage to get my car. I’m signed on to drive it during takes/have it parked on the street on-camera, for which I get an extra $25. Sweeeeet. Unfortunately, this also means… I have to drive it. In an area in which I have never been. I’m not the most experienced city driver, but I’m pretty sure it’ll all be okay. So they tell me where they want me (“the corner of 2nd and Davis”) and I think “cool, let’s go to 2nd and Davis.”
- Can’t find 2nd and Davis. Drive around for a while in an increasing panic because there’s 1st, and there’s 3rd, 2nd should be right there, and this isn’t Davis, this is 6th, why is 6th right next to 3rd, what the HELL is going on here? I quickly get very lost. I also have a walkie-talkie, on which I am talking to my supervisor (“extra wrangler.” If she was a wrangler, I was her cat on a leash.) Wrangler is being very calm and encouraging to me (bless her heart) and saying things like “okay, look on your left, you should see this on your left, do you see it?” “NO ;_;”
- This goes on for a few frantic minutes… and then I see it. Looming before me. The bridge. I’m almost at the Burnside bridge, and about to go back across the freaking river, which will add at least 15 minutes to my trying to FIND THE DAMN SHOOTING LOCATION. I cannot have this. I just cannot. So I NOPE. I NOPE. I nope so hard… that I do the only other thing I can do, and make an illegal U-turn. (Safely, without being in danger of hitting anyone, but. Still.
- Suddenly, COPS. COPS EVERYWHERE. WEE-WOO-WEE-WOO-WEE-WOO FLASH FLASH LIGHTS OH MY GOD OH MY GOD out of nowhere, a cop car AND a motorcycle cop zoom up after me and pull me over. They have seen my ridiculous maneuver and definitely think I’m fleeing a bank holdup or on all kinds of drugs or both.
- I roll down the window, and I’m almost crying by this point because I still have my wrangler on the walkie talkie going “ROANNA? WHAT’S GOING ON? DID YOU FIND 2ND AND DAVIS?” (no I did not ;A; ) And the cop comes up and I’m almost hysterical and I kind of wave the walkie at him and go “I’m here with a movie crew I’m just trying to find the location I got so lost I couldn’t go across the river, I’m so sorry omg I’m so sorry PLEASE HELP ME.
- I don’t know if it was my face or terrified squeaking or the fact that the walkie-talkie is still talking but the cop starts to laugh. More like giggle, actually. Then his partner from the motorcycle comes up and is like “what’s going on” and he kind of wave-points at me and goes “she’s trying to find the movie shoot.” Apparently they know about this. And his partner starts to laugh at me. And they’re like “well we’re not going to give you a ticket” (“OH THANK GOD THANK YOU AAHH”) “but what you did was very dangerous, please be more careful. 2nd and Davis is that way.”
- So I drive off, feeling kind of overwhelmed from relief… and still can’t find 2nd and Davis. I’m at a red light (A RED LIGHT) not 100 feet away from where the cops were, not 10 seconds later, when…
- "ROANNA WHAT’S GOING ON ARE YOU OKAY"
- "I JUST GOT REAR-ENDED HOLY FFFF”
- I just got rear-ended. :D So I pull over (again) and get out of the car and check my bumper and check the other guy’s bumper (no damage thank god) and then he gets out of the car. Other guy is like 70 year old hippie, the kind you get a lot of in Oregon, and he is maaaddd. (Despite the fact that HE ran into ME. At a STOP SIGNAL.)
I am the cloud in this scenario. And this is his face:
"I’m so sorry sir-"
"WHAT THE HELL YOU DRIVING LIKE THAT FOR?!"
"It was a red light and-"
"I DON’T CARE WHO YOU ARE WHAT YOU’RE DOING!"
"I’m very sorry, I’m just trying to get to this location, I’m with a movie crew and we’re-"
"CRAZY WOMAN DRIV… wait, you said a movie?"
"Who’s in it?"
"Uhhh… Reese Witherspoon."
"…WELL DANG GIRL, THAT’S FINE, YOU JUST TELL ME WHERE SHE IS!"
- I, uh. Don’t know where she is (I haven’t even gotten to the set yet), and even if I did, I would certainly not tell Rude Rear-Ending Aging Hippie. I tell wrangler on the walkie that I’m okay (i think I hear someone else in the background with her… sounds like laughing…), she tells me just to get there, and thankfully Angry Old Hippie lets me go. Charmed at the name-drop.
- I finally, finally, finally reach 2nd and Davis. And make a discovery, which explains why I have just been driving around in the freaking Twilight Zone all morning.
- They have changed the street signs. You see, the movie is set in Minneapolis. Portland, obviously, is not Minneapolis. So they have been hanging up signs that say “CITY OF LAKES” and putting up various scenery… including… FAKE STREET SIGNS. SECOND AND DAVIS IS NOW NORTH 3RD AND 6TH. THEY HAVE TAKEN DOWN THE ACTUAL SIGNS AND REPLACED THEM WITH PROPS. I HAVE BEEN DRIVING AROUND. LOOKING. FOR A NONEXISTANT STREET SIGN. I was there the whole time, but nobody told me the street signs were changed. And nobody told me this. Or if they did, I certainly missed it. I suppose the good news here is that it was not entirely my fault that I got so ridiculously lost, seeing how what I was looking for essentially didn’t exist anymore.
- Filming begins. Relatively uneventful. I get to walk across streets and around corners in a lot of shots, and at one point cross the screen directly after Reese Witherspoon and very close up, so that’s pretty cool. We do this for several hours, then have lunch. By the time we break for lunch I have to pee more than I ever have in recent memory, so I do that first. When I get out of the bathroom…
- Remember the nice catered food? It’s there and wonderful and there’s a line forming. So I get in the food line. I get about halfway through (mashed potatoes and ravioli~) when a lady comes up, pulls me out of line, and goes “I have to ask you to stop.” “Huh?” “It’s not your turn yet. You have to wait.” I realize what I’ve done. You see, there’s a pecking order in filming TV and movie things, and lunch. The principle actors and crew (director, etc, high up people) eat first. Then everybody else. I have accidentally gotten into the early lunch shift and am consequently the only extra with food.
- Go sit down, embarrassed (again) but. Hey. Only extra with food. :D When they let us in, I grab a lot of cake. Because after the morning I’d had, I wanted some damn cake.
- Sitting with some other background people… they’re talking about something. I listen. “Did you hear the walkies this morning? I guess somebody got pulled over by cops getting here!” I feel myself blushing again… and then decide, fuck it. “You think that’s bad?” I say with a grin. “I got rear-ended too!” “AHH OMG THAT WAS YOU? The entire crew was talking about it!”
"The entire crew! It was on the public channel! Channel fifteen!"
"The public walkie frequency! We all heard it!"
and that kind of echoes in horrible slow-motion in my mind
WEeeEEEE aAAAALLL HEEAAARRDDD iIIIiiiITTttTTTTT
- …So that was laughing I heard on the walkie in the background. Not only was I foiled by fake street signs, hopelessly lost, pulled over, rear-ended, and sobbing into the walkie-talkie (“JAY-SUS!!”) the whole time… dozens and dozens of people were listening. And apparently being very entertained by the whole thing.
- And that was not the end of it. Oh no. Throughout the day this happened again. It was like the go-to small-talk topic, “did you hear about the extra who got pulled over and in an accident on the way?!” people were talking about it amongst themselves. People talked to ME ABOUT IT. I had to tell the multiple times “yeeppp, that was me, aaahahah!” and laugh it off. Fortunately everybody was nice, and reacted with a mix of “you poor thing” and “omg that’s so funny i mean i’m sorry but LOL”
- The director was a very nice, fun guy in a Ducks hat. Some time later, he randomly begins dancing during takes, going “it’s Tuesday! It’s Tuesday! :D” so I of course start dancing too because who doesn’t want to dance because it’s Tuesday? He sees this, points at me like a joyful Phoenix Wright, and goes “I asked for the best background in Portland, and they gave me the best background in Portland!” So that was pretty cool!
- The rest of filming, thank God, was uneventful. Except for getting to walk in front of a big green screen (Minneapolis, remember?) which was really cool. We finished at around 9 PM, which meant I got 8 regular hours and 7 overtime. Awesome. Should get a nice change chunk from that. By this time of course I’m about the walking dead, and my feet hurt more than I can even remember. (LOTS of walking. Uncomfortable heels. OW.)
- Finally drive home. Blissfully unexciting. Except for almost driving off with my damn lights off. Thankfully our helpful crossing guard/traffic director guy stopped me. “Well first of all, turn your lights on…” “Sorry, sir. It’s been a long day.”
- Get home. Crash. Tell parents all of the above. They’re still laughing at my ridiculousness. My Hagrid-like dad is laughing especially hard at me.
"IT’S LIKE THEY HIRED FREAKING LUCILLE BALL. OR RAVEN. CAN’T YOU SEE ALL THAT HAPPENING ON THATS SO RAVEN?!?!”
My dad, everyone.
My day, everyone.
And with that I say good night.
(As a last shameless plug, if you like my writing and weird humor, please check out my first novel, Chameleon Moon. Thanks for reading about my ridiculousness!)