Background Actors Share Their Craziest On-Set Experiences


What happens on set rarely stays on set.

Being an extra on a film is, for most people, a rare but awesome opportunity.

Not only might you get the chance to shmooze with some celebrities, but you might also get to end up with bragging rights for life if you make the final cut.

Here are some of the interesting, hilarious, and straight-up wild stories from extras on films and TV shows big and small, courtesy of Reddit.

1.

“I was on Live by Night with Ben Affleck. We filmed in Brunswick, Georgia. The town was made to look like Ebor City, Florida during the Prohibition time. It was fun being on set for long hours around those classic cars, and people in costume. It was easy to get immersed in the illusion. Ben Affleck is a professional and cares about his fans. He was polite but also a normal guy. I’d walk by him as he talked baseball with other crewmembers. He thanked us for our work on set. He would take time to take photos with fans. He was on set at 6 a.m. at least and done by 10 p.m. That is dedication.”


Alain Jocard / AFP via Getty Images

2.

“A close family friend was an extra in many films shot here in Las Vegas. He was an extra in the film Casino and got to meet and talk with all of the main cast members. He said Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Sharron Stone, and Don Rickles were the most amazing and welcoming actors he has met and worked with. The absolute worst actor he worked with: Chevy Chase. He treated extras and those that weren’t the main actors of the film like absolute garbage.”

3.

“My friend accidentally punched Pink in the head while he was an extra in a music video … He was in a mosh pit for the video and she was sitting beside it and he just punched her right in the head while he was moshing. The director liked it so he left it in the video.”

4.

“We were extras playing German soldiers for War Pigs. For this particular scene, it was just Luke Goss walking by so there were no main characters speaking but they were still recording audio. We thought it would be fun to speak some German. I can understand select things but speak very little so I was just speaking random German phrases that I knew. My buddy speaks fluent German. When they called action, I asked him in German, ‘How many fingers do you have?’ He responds ‘I have 10… But you have a small dick.'”


Imeh Akpanudosen / Getty Images

“I knew what that meant and tried to hold back a chuckle. He then pointed to other extras and elaborated to the other extras, in German, how small their dicks were. Once they cut, the 1st AD said that they could hear us and they didn’t want us speaking because they were going to redub us in German, thinking we were speaking English. We told him that we WERE speaking German. He thought that was cool and kept the shot and audio… I’m really hoping that our conversation about dicks ends up in the final cut.”

u/holyhappiness

5.

“I’ve been an extra on Ray Donovan, an Angels & Airwaves music video, a film called GBF, and most significantly, the film Don Jon starring & directed by Joseph Gordon Levitt. JGL was SUPER nice and took time to do a Q&A and take pictures with all the extras each day after wrapping, even though we were shooting overnights, so this was about 6 a.m. after a full day of him pulling double duty. Gave out signed posters from his film Looper, chatted very casual, and was nice to everyone on set.”

“I got to be in very close proximity to Scarlett Johanson & Julianne Moore and get a first-hand experience of what those actors are like working off each other and how they communicate with other cast & crew between takes — doing rehearsal and taking notes. One scene was a club scene where Scarlett was very unsure of her dancing and keeps making self-deprecating jokes about it to the extras around her. I can spot myself pretty clearly in multiple shots in the finished film, so that was pretty neat for me and friends & family.”

u/marcdwilkinson

6.

“My friend was an extra in Liz and Dick. Not paid. I think she sat next to Lindsay Lohan in the shot used in the Lifetime movie. I think it’s supposed to be the Oscars or something, shot at the Orpheum in LA. Said Lohan was like 6 hours late, was supposed to shoot by 8:00 p.m., they didn’t finish until 7:00 a.m. Since it was a TV movie, it was not paid.”

7.

“I was in the background in an episode of Portlandia … My part involved walking in a zig-zag behind Carrie [Brownstein] and Justin Long. The highlight of it was there were these two other extras, one older and one maybe 20 years old. Justin asked if they were father and son. They said no, so I just calmly interjected that he was my son. We look nothing alike and he was only maybe 10 years younger than me. Justin asked ‘Really?’ and I was like, ‘Yep.’ ‘You’re not kidding?’ ‘Nope.’ ‘That’s seriously your son?’ ‘Yeah dude, that’s what I’ve been telling you … Nah I’m just fucking with you man, come on he’s like 10 years younger than me.’ The kid was cool, knew what I was doing, and didn’t contradict me. Whole thing went on for a solid 45 seconds. Carrie said I had an insanely good poker face.”


Mark Sagliocco / Getty Images

8.

“Spent several days as an extra years ago on the second Lord Of The Rings film as an elf in the battle of helms deep. Got to spend 12–14 hours a day dressed as an elf waiting around on the off chance they needed loads of eleven soldiers. Highlight was seeing an Uruk hai give one of the AD’s a lap dance for their birthday during lunch. You can’t unsee something like that.”


Kevin Winter / Getty Images

9.

“I was an extra on The Avengers in this scene, but only the interior shots of the gala. It takes place in Germany but was filmed in Cleveland. I got there around 3 p.m., and we filmed until about 7 a.m. … When Loki flips the guy over the table, the stunt double kept going over the other side and was getting pissed off. They eventually had him go over at an angle as you see in the film since the middle was so narrow. There were a series of lights on the floor around the table, and the crew kept breaking them, and everyone would start clapping and cheering. Tom Hiddleston was cool, and at one point he thanked us for being so professional and cool even working all through the night into the next morning. When we were running in terror, he slammed his Loki Pokey stick onto the table and the blue infinity stone broke out and flew across the room.”

u/megaman1981

10.

“I was an extra on Interstellar, the farm area scenes. The only real highlight was at lunch they bused us out to where the catering tents were. Most of the tables were already full but I grabbed my food (good stuff too, catered by one of the better catering places in town) and headed to a mostly vacant table in the center of the tented area. Across from me sat a bored-looking blond girl about the age of 7–9. I asked her how her day was and if she was excited to be in the movie. She shrugged and said it was alright, looking disinterested. I left it at that and continued to eat.”


Vcg / VCG via Getty Images

“A few minutes later she got up and went over to a man a little further down the table, hugged him, and said she was bored. I couldn’t make out exactly what he said but he and the few others around him were speaking with British accents, which is a bit strange for southern Alberta. It was then I realized I was sitting at the director’s table 3 meters from Christopher Nolan, his DP, and a few of his other staff, and that I had just chatted with Christoper Nolan’s daughter. I tried eves dropping a bit but it wasn’t too interesting, they were discussing spaceship design variants and the best way to shoot them.”

u/bristlebane

11.

“I worked as Will Ferrell’s stand-in on Old School. Last day of shooting was the party scene with Snoop Dogg. We knew he was probably gonna be a bit late showing up so they set the call time to be something that wasn’t too early, 10 a.m. At 1 p.m. his entourage finally shows up to the sound stages. We all just kinda laugh it off. Something like 7 or 8 cars in all, including the lime green pimp-mobile from someone in his crew that was an actual pimp.”


Douglas Mcfadd / Getty Images

“For the next 8 hours or so Snoop and his crew proceed to get insanely high and start smoking out various extras. One of the producers had to put his foot down when Snoop and his crew started inviting them into his trailer. 18-year-old lady extras alone with them in the trailers might present itself as a potential ‘issue.’ The day goes on and the director also gets smoked out by Snoop. He’s too high to function any longer so a producer has to step in and finish off the day. We shoot the ‘we’re going streaking’ scene and Will’s “sock” keeps coming off. All around, good times. :)”

u/DJanomaly

12.

“I was an extra in Dumb and Dumber Two when it was filming in Atlanta … I guess the biggest takeaway/story I have is that Jim Carrey is kind of a huge douche to everyone on set, from his costars (Jeff Daniels) to the extras … The biggest example was when we were filming that scene where Harry and Lloyd are in the theater heckling the speaker; The DP (Matthew F. Leonetti) asked Jim Carrey pretty nicely, ‘Hey Jim, the lighting is weird in this theater. On this take can you lean forward a little bit so we can see your face?'”


Archive Photos / Getty Images

“Jim Carrey stands up and EXPLODES at the guy. The whole theater of like 200 extras went silent. I was about 15 feet away, and it made me jump. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but the gist was, ‘I shouldn’t have to worry about the fucking lighting while I’m acting. Do your fucking job. You’re fucking pathetic.’ He obviously had a point, but the DP was being really nice, and the response was unwarranted. If there was a hidden camera, it could have easily been similar to the Christian Bale situation.”

u/TheRobSorensen  

13.

“I was on the set of Rules of Engagement in 1999. The scene was onboard the USS Tarawa; LHA-1. Sam Jackson runs out to the helicopter to lead his Marines to the fight. He showed up in the morning with the Hollywood crew and many pallets of equipment … In the early morning (5:15 a.m.) when he was in the officer’s dining area. He was laying on the couch relaxing with his sneakers off and his feet up on the side. An officer came in and said, ‘What the hell is this?’ His body language indicated that he was pissed off, and he was waving his hand at Sam. When someone told him what was happening and who was sleeping there he changed his tune immediately.”


Eric Robert / Sygma via Getty Images

14.

“I worked as an extra for the duration of filming SLC Punk. I nearly got into a fist fight with Matthew Lillard, he was rude and awful to me throughout filming. He threw water in my face, and broke a glass bottle at my feet (after ignoring the prop plastic bottles), and I got glass cuts on my legs. But the rest of the experience was fantastic, every other actor was generous and kind. But behind the scene, people were the most amazing. Always laughing, smiling, and fun to be around. It was the most fun job I have ever had.”

u/Savascha

15.

“I was doing part-time extra work for a while on my days off and the opportunity to work for 5 days at night on an Arnold Schwarzenegger film came up … The movie would turn out to be Last Action Hero and what we were filming was the actual first scene with Arnold, the movie-within-the-movie. Our location was the downtown area of Culver City at what is known as the ‘Munchkin Hotel’ where the little people stayed during Wizard of Oz … Parked around the base of the hotel filling the street were about 2 dozen picture police cars with their lights going during takes.”


Eric Robert / Sygma via Getty Images

“So one night with all those police lights blazing, this sedan came roaring up with three young guys in it, two of them yelling for the police. Seems they had just fled a drug deal gone wrong and their buddy had been shot (in the abdomen IIRC). Eventually, the real cops and an ambulance were called but by then the poor bastard had bled to death. The horrible irony: we were only about 3 blocks from an actual hospital. That’s probably where they were headed when they found all the streets blocked.”

u/cinemaphreak

16.

Saving Silverman. I had to listen to Neil Diamond sing ‘Holly Holy’ for eight straight hours. Jack Black was in it, and this was before anyone knew who he was. He mentioned his band at some point, and I went Wooo!, thinking I wouldn’t be the only one. I was. He pointed at me and thanked me.”


Archive Photos / Getty Images

17.

“A number of my coworkers were extras in the movie Idiocracy. 🙂 They filmed a couple of segments in my place of work. I got Mike Judge’s autograph on one of my King Of The Hill DVD Set boxes. I also met Dax Shepard, Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph. Pretty sweet experience.”

u/mindflux

Have you ever been a TV or movie extra? Share your story in the comments!


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