The Usual Suspects

Producers have two options for selecting featured extras.   They can hold an interview during which a group of extras that fit the producer’s bill, meet with the director and any other concerned production persons.  In that setting the extras get 2 hours pay of the daily rate for every two hours of the interview.  That can add somewhat to the production cost and producers are always looking for a way to cut these expenses.   Thus option 2.   Extra’s casting offices maintain albums that contain photos of all their clients.   The extra’s agent presents the producer with the album from which a featured extra is then selected.  

By this method I was selected for this scene in The Usual Suspects.  The scene was filmed about a month after the Northridge 6.7 earthquake.   Los Angeles was deluged with constant aftershocks.   I arrived at the location to find to my consternation that I would be working in a high rise building on the 16th floor.  Yikes.   Then I discovered the building was deserted as portions had been red flagged by the city inspectors as untenable.   It was all rather eerie.  🙂 

YES.   We had a nice jolting and building swaying after shock during that day. 

I was taken to the set and the director, Bryan Singer, gave me instructions.   Mr. Singer was in his early thirties and at this time considered a kind of wunderkind.  Apparently the making of this movie bore this out.  He was a very intelligent, thoughtful person.   For my small part he was very easy to work with.  His direction to me was simple, slump down in the chair to make myself appear smaller and therefore subordinate to the female lawyer.   In the clip you can see my head is below hers.   Also notice the flow of the entire scene all from the imagination of Mr. Singer.  The view out the window of the LA downtown landscape, the reflections in the glass partition and even myself with mostly the back of my head in contrast to Suzy Amis’ profile.   Notice the Japanese Kanji on the glass.  I found this regarding what it says:

“The Japanese characters on the outside of the meeting room where Kobayashi is talking with Edie Finneran and others say “Kobayashi” and “bengoshi” (attorney); the ones in reverse on the window read “seikou” (success), “chikara” (strength), and “zaisan” (assets). “

You can see there were many cuts in this scene.  It took all day to get them on tape.   As Suzy and I worked so close in the scene, we had lots of time between set-ups.   We took advantage of these moments to discuss politics and computers which was far more interesting than sitting around waiting…. during a shoot there is a lot of waiting… 🙂  


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