January 15, 2009

A Day at the Beach With Kate and Leo

A film extra reflects on his time in the sun.

Benjamin Samuel

"Yeah, I've worked with Sam Mendes before," said the man lazily pretending to be my father, taking a break from his dirty Irish jokes that made my "mother" blush beneath her deepening sunburn. His jokes weren't terrible ("…so Seamus says, 'how do you think I feel? I lost the sausage in the third pub!'"), but his overenthusiastic interpretation of his uncredited turn as "Father at the beach" suggested a mild case of Munchausen's syndrome.

The two of us, along with a middle-aged man playing my ostensibly restless uncle, were among the dozens of extras on the set of Revolutionary Road, Sam Mendes's new film based on the novel by Richard Yates. The scene was shot on a beach in Fairfield, Connecticut, and our only responsibility as extras—our "job"—was to do what we were told, keep out of the way, and stay quiet.

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