We're constantly being told how ruthless a place Hollywood is. I would be moved to disagree, as it takes an incredible act of kindness and understanding of human flaws to have let the following dim-witted extras have their five seconds in the sun and be allowed a place on the silver screen, as well as receiving that all-important paycheck. However, before we indulge ourselves in a chuckle-fest of stupidity, maybe we should take a moment to consider that we might just be looking at this from the wrong perspective: this isn't a list of the ten worst movie extras, this is a list of the ten most misunderstood, misguided geniuses of our time.
1. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
This guy is such a maverick. While the director was probably screaming at everyone to act terrified by the gigantic man-eating shark in the water, this guy decided to go against the grain and smile and skip as if the shark was actually just a bloated piñata filled with candy and dollar bills. I bet he came up with some kind of complicated background story for his character in which he was secretly a shark transformed into a human by an evil sea-witch and Jaws was simply capturing one moment of this epic side-story, i.e. the moment when he joyfully reunited with his long-lost shark lover. Good work, hat guy.
2. Die Hard 2 (Renny Harlin, 1990)
Check out the guy in the light grey sweatshirt. He must not have realised that background arists were not eligible for the Oscars. I've never seen such commitment to a roll in my life. He put his heart and soul into that roll. Who cares if there was absolutely no reason for him to fall down, apply some suspension of disbelief for the benefit of this cinematic art and let the intensity of this man's panic wash over you and consume you. Good work, roll guy.
3. Everything Must Go (Dan Rush, 2010)
Oh no siree, this isn't an example of the stupidity of children, but simply a little mix-up in communication between director and actors. You see, the children didn't realise they were in some indie comedy-drama but in fact thought they were starring in one of the Paranormal Activity sequels. Which explains why in the second shot they're absolutely frozen in place as if a demon had taken their souls. Good work, possessed children.
4. Quantum of Solace (Marc Forster, 2008)
Don't think for a second that the guy in the background supposedly meant to be sweeping the floor but in fact just sweeping the air is the laziest man on earth. Just like those totally not-stupid kids, he was similarly misled to believe he was featuring in a Paranormal Activity movie and was desparately attempting to shoo a herd of ghost cats from his precious yacht (which he treasures far more than his possessed children from Everything Must Go). Good work, broom guy.
5. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
I know everyone tells us we have to make sacrifices for our art, but really there comes a limit to these kinds of things. This kid's limit was clearly at suffering any kind of permanent hearing damage. Maybe this kid dreamed of becoming a merchant seaman and was terrified this exposure to such loud noises might prevent him from one day achieving the minimum requirement of hearing ability for the job. The kid is just chasing his dream. Good work, future merchant seaman.
6. Mr. Nanny (Michael Gottlieb, 1993)
Yes, this Hulk Hogan family comedy features a background artist throwing a dog into a large body of water. However, before you fix your eyes of judgement upon this man, let me remind you that we know nothing about this dog. This dog could have been an international menace with a lifetime obsession of destroying the one known as Hulk Hogan. Maybe this man just saved Hulk Hogan's life. Good work, dog-chucking man.
7. The Last Samurai (Edward Zwick, 2003)
Honestly, it's really difficult to put any blame on the extra here. This guy stayed exactly in the place the assistant director put him and what does he get in the return? A good old kick in the crotch from a horse who'd spent too much time with Tom Cruise and had come out the other side with an inflated sense of ego and a violent defense of personal space. Good work, brave samurai.
8. Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984)
Jump forward to 1.33 on this clip and you'll see the American dream coming true. Only through this one red-headed guy's commitment, determination, and hard-work was he able to push everyone else out of the way and scream, "GHOSTBUSTERS, ALL RIGHT", achieving his life-long dream of talking over the end of Bill Murray's line. Murray even shook his hand in acknowledgement that this totally wasn't a desparate move to get on camera for as long as possible. Good work, red-haired shouting man.
9. Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999)
This guy wasn't just an extremely lucky jerk whose antics got him not only his moment of fame but an increased paycheck, he knew what he was doing all along. He'd seen the timing of the scene in previous takes and just felt it was missing some dramatic tension. How else to better represent the desparation and total alienation of Malkovich at this moment in the film then to hit him in the back of the head with a can from a moving car? This guy needs a co-direction credit. Good work, intoxicated man.
10. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
Look, I'm a huge Star Wars fan (Star Trek can suck it), but honestly, C-3PO is a pathetic excuse for comic relief. Thank god for Stormtrooper #3 and his perfectly-pitched artistic decision to hit his head on the door while marching in with his buddies. This movie would be nothing, I repeat, nothing with out this classic piece of comedy gold. Good work, Stormtrooper #3.
Now, remember that this is only a list of the best/worst extras that people with too much time on their hands have noticed. Imagine all the ridiculous antics we're yet to discover of lowly background artists with only the minimum wage and an uttainable dream to justify their presence. Caught any yourself? Let us know in the comments!
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