Extra, Read All About It!

Back in the mid-80s, I was a struggling actor by day, social worker by night. Ed's aunt was involved in acquiring extras for filming in Toronto. Long before Vancouver took over as Hollywood North, Toronto held the crown as the world's stage and several high-profile mini-series got their start filming there.

The very first bit of extra work I did was in the 1985 Kane & Abel mini starring Peter Strauss as Rosnovski and Sam Neill as Kane (neither of whom I met.) There was some flashback scene where we all dressed up as Polish POWs filmed in the frozen tundra known as Toronto Harbour. I've never seen it, so I know not if I can be seen, but Ed can be witnessed as we trudge across the lake, he decided to limp to add reality to his character. Alas, when the director saw the rushes, he exclaimed that one of the idiot POWs looked as though he was skating and the scene may have been cut!

Our only other acting gig together was in the fact-based TV movie, Act of Vengeance in 1986 starring チャールズ・ブロンソン /Charles Bronson! In one scene, we were coal miners emerging from a day's work who were met by Chuck campaigning for Mayor. Some thugs, hired by his competition, began to tussle with him and we got to see some professional stunt men battle with him. We were encouraged to gently shove each other as well. For years, I boasted that I once saved Chuck's life and got a lot of mileage on that anecdote. If you ever see the movie, I can be seen coming out of the mine for about a full 3 seconds!

Charles Buchinski, the man, was a consummate professional who brought his own experience as a miner to the forefront by complaining to the director that the lunch boxes should be deeper because they should contain a thermos. (His claustrophobia in 大脱走 /The Great Escape was true to life from a collapsed mine he'd once been in.) Filming was postponed so we could get props that were more to his liking. Alas he was too much of a pro, for when asked by Ed if he could be photographed, Charles replied, "I don't pose." Each of the extras scammed this flyer and I'm sure they show up on many a wannabe actors blogs.

An actor who was much more amiable was
ウィルフォード・ブリムリー /Wilfred Brimley who portrayed the corrupt Tony Boyle who ran against him in the election. We were in a dining hall scene at a Benefit Dinner with him and between takes he'd joke with those around him and flirt with the waitresses. He even used his line from Cocoon as Ben Luckett: "Blue steel. Cat couldn't scratch it."

You may know him better from Quaker Oats...

But who can forget him from
エンドア-魔空の妖精? (Ewoks and the Marauders of ENDOR.)


Bob Browning said...

I remember that there was a picture on the front page of the Globe and Mail showing you guys marching across Toronto Harbour. It was a long distance shot so no close-ups but it did give the appearance of marching across Siberia. Sorry, I do not remember the date of the issue.

Michael Jones said...

I remember during the filming of Kane and Abel that Ed decided to put an edge on his marching and walk with a limp. The director yelled at the extras (not knowing exactly who was limping) that we should walk normally. "It looks like one of you is skating!"


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