It all started with a Facebook post.
There was a news article about a casting call for extras for a very popular television political drama filmed in our area. I posted the link, and on a whim, suggested I would do it if others did it with me, even though I never watched a single episode, couldn’t tell you a single plot line, or name a single character. But they put out a call for people who looked like DC government types, and certainly I can pass as a DC government type, right?
That post resulted in my friend Sarah and I standing in line in the blazing sun for several hours on a beautiful summer day in Maryland. It was a fascinating experience, yet given the amount of people and attention there, we were certain nothing would ever come of it for us.
We were wrong.
Within a month, Sarah got called to the set, but unfortunately, she was on vacation. Then, just around Halloween, they called her AGAIN, but this time, she was in the middle of her move to Washington state.
I, on the other hand, didn’t hear a single word from the casting agency, and that was fine by me. My life had enough drama going on during that time as I prepared myself and the family for our upcoming move to Germany.
But then, shortly after my family’s last visit to Ohio to say goodbye to relatives there, I received an email from the casting agency.
They needed me on set. Was I available?
Heck yeah, I was available.
So that’s how I ended up taking leave from work to spend a full day in a huge warehouse studio near Baltimore, hanging out with a few celebrity types, filming a scene for a show that I *still* haven’t watched.
I won’t share any spoilers here, but in no particular order, these are some tidbits and moments I experienced that day.
- My character was NOT that of a DC government type. No. I played the role of a politically-active housewife in Iowa who supports Frank Underwood. This was very specific because all of my reactions in the scene had to be consistent. If he said something brilliant, I laughed or applauded. If others threw some shade at him, I scowled. It was very intense. I rehearsed for hours. 😉
- I left my house at 3:30 am to get to the set which was two hours away from my house. Report time was 6 a.m. It was November, and it was dark. And freezing cold.
- We were given instructions on what to wear, and I did my research about the show and its color palette before putting together my outfit. Yet, I grew nervous as I watched the wardrobe folks assess our clothes. They pulled many people aside to make them change into jackets, sweaters, shirts, or dresses they provided. As the lead wardrobe person approached me, she sized up my silver heels, gray pants, navy blue shirt, plum cardigan, and blue scarf. “Perfect,” she said, and moved on.
- I did not eat the catered breakfast. I did drink the coffee, though.
- For the first hour or so, we were huddled under a huge tent near the studio. This is where we got directions, assignments, and other instructions from the director and crew. Most of the time, though, we just hung out and I got to meet a lot of really interesting people. Almost all were from the DC/Baltimore area, and more than a few were like me: non-Hollywood types who took the day off of work to do something out of the ordinary.
- I was in the best kind of scene: I was sitting down indoors the entire time. Some of the others had done work in other scenes for the show, and mentioned they sometimes had to film outdoors in the rain and cold.
- The main characters/celebs did not have it so lucky. They were standing the whole time in the scene. And those women wore theeeee most ridiculous high-heeled shoes I’ve ever seen. As you watch the episode, pay attention to their shoes. In between takes, they stepped out of them. Towards the end of the day, they were brought chairs and offered foot massages. Those heels … nobody wears heels like that in real life.
- Kevin Spacey is candid, playful, and a good sport. He played up to the crowd, kept a good attitude during takes, and just seemed like a really cool dude.
- Speaking of Mr. Spacey, this was not the first time I crossed paths with him. Martin and I literally cut across his walk on the “red carpet” at his London premiere of “K-Pax” in 2002. It was our honeymoon, and we were heading to Her Majesty’s Theater to see “The Phantom of the Opera.” But there was this massive crowd blocking the sidewalk. So we pushed through the bodies, and stumbled into the opening where the actors were walking from the movie theater to their cars. We didn’t realize who was pushing past us until fans on the other side started yelling his name. By the time I got my camera out to take a photo, Mr. Spacey already ducked into his car. But I did manage to get a photo of his fellow actor, Jeff Bridges.
- In the scene, I was seated on a platform. The “green room” for the actors was set up behind the platform, so in between takes, I had a birds-eye view of everything. So, what do celebrities do during downtime on the job? Scarf down Starbucks croissants. Text their friends. Check email or Facebook on their phones. And chat with their colleagues about shoes, work, and/or the best places to eat in DC and Baltimore.
- Speaking of eating, by the time lunch rolled around, I was starving. STARVING. It was just after 1pm, and I had been up since 3:30 am, having only had the coffee they offered at 6 am. They had a whole buffet set up for all the extras, and the food was AMAZING. Chicken. Fish. Beef. Pasta. Potato salad. Biscuits. Fruit. A variety of desserts. All delicious. All for free. I went up for seconds. And then went up a third time just as they were carting things away. I managed to get one last scoop of delicious potato salad and the guy walking off with the dessert tray let me swipe the last piece(s) of cake. No shame.
- We were on set the entire day, enabling the crew to film the same scene over and over again from a variety of angles and viewpoints. By the end of the day, I knew everyone’s lines. We all did.
- I didn’t get home until almost 9 pm. Martin and the kids were lined up in our foyer, and started applauding and cheering for me as soon as I walked in. There was a bouquet of flowers waiting for me in the kitchen, too. Just another example of why my most favorite role to date is wife and mom to those guys.*************************For those who want to know, I starred in Season 3, Episode 11, Chapter 37. You can see me at 21:52, 22:11, 24:13, 24:16, 24:30, and 24:37.