There are TONS of actors working in Hollywood. Most go unknown, with credits like “Waiter #3” or “Woman Reading Newspaper.” Forgettable roles to be sure, but background actors and those who play bit parts are really important to making films more realistic and more enjoyable. Being a character actor like this isn’t easy, and it’s a difficult way to earn a living. Most don’t; they frequently need to have side jobs just to keep food on the table.
I’d like to point you all to a film I saw a year or two ago titled “That Guy… Who Was In That Thing”. It’s a documentary from 2012, and among many other actors it features Paul Guilfoyle , who played Detective Brass from the original CSI series, and gravel-voiced William Morgan Sheppard, who among other roles was Blank Reg from the cult TV series Max Headroom, had a small part in the film Gettysburg, (Based on the novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara) as well as two separate small roles in the sci-fi TV series Babylon-5.
Three years later, the same group released “That Gal… Who Was in That Thing”. I only saw part of the second film, but it was every bit as fascinating as the first.
Several of my favorite actors tend to play smaller parts. Stanley Tucci, who more recently has surely graduated to Veteran Character Actor status, won my heart in the film “The Impostors”, along with a stellar cast of other bit-part actors. I was delighted to also see him as Dr. Abraham Erskine in Captain America: The First Avenger.
I have a lot of empathy for actors in roles like these, as that’s sort of the role I find myself in as a writer for tabletop role-playing games. I’m not really a marquee star, but come in later to build on what’s been established. I like having a defined role like that, but I’m also kind of down that no one seems to respect my skills enough to bring me in at the beginning to help set things up, world building-wise.
I guess we can’t all be superstars.