That Guy Who Was In That Movie

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.

One of my new favorites is Lucy Davis, more recently known as Etta, Steve Trevor’s assistant in 2017’s Wonder Woman. She also played Dianne in Sean of the Dead, adding to her substantial nerd cachet.

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.

3 thoughts on “That Guy Who Was In That Movie

  1. Let’s hear it for the people in smaller print, without whom the creative work could not get done. I am personally fond of shows and movies with big ensembles, like The Wire or ER. Good actors (and writers) make those characters you see for only five minutes seem like real people.

  2. Reminds me of when I was in a coffee shop in Columbus, Wisconsin. The barista and I chatted with a newcomer who “Just stopped to look over the interesting town.” We both thought he looked vaguely familiar; turned out he portrayed the ship’s carpenter in “Master and Commander”, in release at the time. Apparently he was also a location scout for “Public Enemy,” much of which was filmed in the area a year later.

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