One of my ongoing hobbies is working as an extra at Albuquerque Studios. I have zero aspirations to act professionally, it’s basically an excuse to get out of the house. However, my esteemed status as a punctual non-douche has awarded me some featured extra work, notably minor roles on Better Call Saul and Preacher. And so, I thought it would be fun to chronicle my shenanigans as an extra.
The Night Shift (IMDB)
My first foray into the extras world (i.e. standing around like a doofus) was on The Night Shift, a medical drama on NBC. I’ve been on the show numerous times at this point, mainly as “that dude in the corner” or something similar. My favorite was as a building collapse victim, which necessitated a trip to the makeup trailer. My wife’s favorite hobby is special effects makeup, so there was a lot of giddiness in our household that day.
Better Call Saul (IMDB)
My biggest “holy crap” moment by far was getting cast as Kevin, a Davis & Main lawyer in season 2 of Better Call Saul. My wife and I are huge Breaking Bad fans and fell in love with the series while living in North Carolina. I never thought in a million years that I would be lucky enough to see that world, let alone act in it. I spent several weeks at the studios filming the first eight episodes. I even got lines and credits. BCS spoiled me with a tightly run ship (which I guess one would expect from an Emmy-winning show). The crew was as organized and professional as it gets. I also got to meet Vince Gilligan and several of the main actors. Bob Odenkirk (Saul) is a shy and consummate actor, despite his nutty on-screen persona. Meanwhile, Jonathan Banks (Mike) is one of the sweetest and kindest guys you will ever meet.
Yet another oopsy-doodle into a featured extra part. No lines this time, but I did get to interact with the main actor (Dominic Cooper), which was really cool. I was part of the restaurant scene where Jesse breaks away from Emily to chat with some groupies (me). I was supposed to be in the restaurant somewhere as general background, but I guess the director decided that I looked weird enough to be obsessed with a preacher. Not sure how I should feel about that.
The Space Between Us (IMDB)
This is a sci-fi movie starring Gary Oldman, which is particularly amusing because he’s the actor I get most compared to (just in appearance, by no means for acting). I played a NASA scientist and a security guard. The scientist was tucked waaaay into the background, but I should have a decent close-up of the security guard, assuming the scene stays in the movie. I basically run down a hallway with Gary. You know, Oscar-worthy stuff.
Untitled Mars Project
A sci-fi show that may or may not see the light of day. Hopefully it does because I clocked a lot of screen time. I got to wear a snazzy suit and scream at young adults. Hell, they didn’t even need to pay me to do that.
This is the sequel to the wildly popular Sicario, starring Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. My stupidly awesome extras luck was on full display here. I had just come off three days promoting my latest novel at the Albuquerque Comic Con. I was exhausted, cranky, and just wanted to do the deed and go home. I had brought the final proof of my next novel, Max and the Multiverse, to give me something to do. There were tons of extras for the scene, so it was easy to sit by myself and read … or so I thought. The director walked by, saw me reading at a quiet table in the corner, and thought that worked well for the upcoming scene. He nabbed me and placed me across from Benicio and Josh. He even told me to hold up the book so it was obvious. So, there’s a strong possibility that I’ll get a close up on camera reading my own damn book. How nutty is that?
Mission Control (IMDB)
Sweet mercy, I couldn’t have built a better extras gig in a lab. Mission Control is a sci-fi drama on CBS about, you guessed it, NASA Mission Control. The show is written by Andy Weir, author of The Martian (and one of my literary heroes). I was one of 27 featured extras selected out of a pool of 600 applicants. Our job: man stations in NASA Mission Control. As a sci-fi author and certified space junkie, I was positively giddy about this shoot. I got to spend five days on a NASA-themed set with one of my writing idols pretending to be an Operations Support Officer (OSO). Andy even signed my copy of The Martian, and after a few nerd-out chats about writing, he requested that I sign copies of my books. Whaaat?! Yup, that happened. Andy effing Weir now owns autographed copies of Transient and Max and the Multiverse. Oh yeah, and George RR Martin dropped by the set one day to hang out. Unreal.