Confessions of a Hollywood movie extra
INFIGHTING, hours of sitting around doing nothing and working with “painful” celebrities ... welcome to the life of a movie extra.
73-year-old Lizzie Cahill decided to become an extra six years ago. She signed up to an agency and since then has worked on countless commercials, a few TV shows and two Hollywood films, The Great Gatsby and Gods Of Egypt.
“I was a bit stunned when I got the Gatsby part because most of the girls were all young,” Ms Cahill told news.com.au.
“I felt really out of place. I was the only older person there until Baz’s (Luhrmann) mother came along and I think Leonardo’s (DiCaprio) mother did a quick spin around the dance floor as well. But all of the young girls were models and they were all prancing around and they didn’t really want to talk to me because I was so much older.”
Ms Cahill played the wife of a philosopher in the 2013 film and can be spotted in a few scenes, in particular when there’s a huge party at Gatsby’s house and everyone is watching the fireworks.
“It felt special because all of the costumes were so beautiful and the set was just amazing,” she said.
Ms Cahill worked on the film for four months, but don’t be fooled, it wasn’t all glitz and glamour.
“The hours were really, really long,” she said.
“I think my earliest call was at about 3.45am and sometimes ... we wouldn’t finish until one in the morning and then you’d be back again early the next morning. They tried to stagger it so that at least you could get five hours sleep.”
Even though the long days are really tiring, the extras take comfort in the fact they’re paid by the hour.
“When I first stated it was about $25 an hour, now it’s about $30,” said Lizzie.
“You get loading as well. I’ve got a beach house and from the money I got from Gatsby I built an outdoor room so I call it the ‘Gatsby room.’”
One of the most exciting things about being an extra is the chance to rub shoulders with some of the worlds biggest stars, but some are more approachable than others.
“I’ll tell you who was really nice,” said Ms Cahill, “Tobey Maguire”.
“He talked to me when I was walking around Fox studios but with Leonardo (DiCaprio) we were told, ‘Don’t look at him, don’t speak to him, don’t go near him.’”
If she thought Tobey Maguire was nice, she was blown away when she worked alongside Gerard Butler in Gods Of Egypt.
The film, which also stars Brenton Thwaites, Geoffrey Rush and Game Of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, isn’t due out until 2016.
“Gerard Butler is gorgeous,” she said.
“Oh my goodness. If I had been forty years younger I would have made a play for him. He was the nicest guy, so natural, he talked to everybody and I can’t speak highly enough of him.”
Ms Cahill worked on the film for just over two weeks but in that short time she could sense there was tension between some of the stars.
“There was a black American guy ... what an absolute pain,” she said.
“I didn’t realise he was one of the stars and I almost turned around and said to him, ‘Look, would you mind sitting down? You’re really getting on my nerves!’
“Just as well I didn’t,” she said laughing.
“He had a little altercation with this gorgeous little French star. She was getting really annoyed with him and the director came over and said, ‘Is there a problem?’ And she said, ‘No, we’re the best of friends.’ And I laughed because she had had enough of him.”
There was also a personality clash between some of the extras on Gods Of Egypt, with a few choice words being exchanged.
“This girl, I think she was slightly disturbed in some way, but one of the boys next to her who had a bit of an ego, he tried to tell her what to do.
“She turned around and told him to f*** off. He was off the next day doing something else and then this other guy was dumb enough to do the same thing to her so she turned around and had a go at him. That was a bit interesting.”
Ms Cahill expects to have a lot more screen time in Gods Of Egypt compared to Gatsby, and you’ll be able to spot her thanks to her “massive wig”.
“It’s so high and so heavy and the first day I thought, ‘Oh my god, my neck’s going to snap off,’” she said.
“We’re not supposed to take selfies of our outfits but everyone does.”
Despite being 73 years old, Ms Cahill has no plans to stop working altogether. She’s had a taste of Hollywood and she’s hooked.
“I love looking at people and watching them do their thing,” she said when asked why she loves being an extra.
“It keeps you going because you never quite know what’s going to happen. And it keeps you motivated to look decent ... and you need that as you get older.”