Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No, I played Thug #2

A trainer in my gym is also an actor. (I know – knock you over with a feather). He just finished working on the new Showtime series CALIFORNICATION. He played “Hollywood Asshole”. And knowing him, I bet he was good in it. Some of his previous roles included “Jerk at the Bar”, “Thug #2”, and to prove he has range – “Jogger”.

An actress I know has these impressive credits: “Vegas Showgirl” on CSI. Also “Bikini Girl”, “Sheik Girl”, “Cute Girl”, and “Homewrecker”.

Another actress friend boasts these credits on imdb: “Waitress”, “Saleswoman”, “Assistant Candidate #1”, and the part she’s best known for -- “Desperate Woman”.

And one of the most talented comic actors I know lists these on his resume: “Caterer”, “Waiter”, “Delivery Boy”, “Great Great Grandfather” (he was in his 30’s at the time), “Husband”, “Exterminator”, and my personal favorite – “Squid”.

Forget being a star, most actors in Hollywood would be thrilled for a role that actually had a name.

Usually these parts are one or two lines, usually day player roles. But not always. Remember the old guy who used to sit at the bar at CHEERS. His name was Al Rosen. He became a semi-regular. He had lines in probably thirty episodes. His name on the show was “Man Who Said Sinatra”.

“Sinatra” was the first line he was assigned, he got a good laugh, and a few weeks later the writers were looking to give a line to a bar patron and someone suggested, “What about the man who said Sinatra?” And thus a legend was born.

It’s not easy being an actor. And for every one who gets a part as “Punk #2” and “Guy in the Sewer” just remember – there are five others who auditioned for those parts and didn’t get them.

Yours truly,

Schmuck with blog

There have been so many comments about Al Rosen and the other CHEERS barflies that my next post will answer your questions and give more details about them. Stay tuned.

blog schmuck

26 comments:

Dhppy said...

I will always remember "Sinatra" guy. It was his answer to "The man upstairs". I assumed he was supposed to say another name to say the second time but couldn't remember it or something and said "Sinatra" again ( judging by the laughs the cast were having). I also remember the episode where he was rifling through Diane's luggage and she stopped him and slapped his hands. He replied "best time I've had since Korea".

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine just played Cop #2 on the new HBO show that is causing a buzz. He made us all laugh with how he introduces his character, "Cop #2... when Cop #1 can't get the job done. You need Cop #2."

Diogo said...

Ken,

Is it true that there is an unwritten rule about bit players that, there are different levels of actors who play bit parts? that, if an actor who has like 10 "man in crowd with a limp #2" is or likes to be perceived as "better" and more accomplished that the actor who has only done a thing or two, and how much does that really factor into his being cast on his or hers next project? is quantity really better than quality, when speaking about background characters?

Diogo said...

just to add something. I LOVED Al Rosen. The guy can make me laugh untill I reach tears. Even Better than "Sinatra" I remember when he tried mouth to mouth on Sam. Someone goes "who knows mouth to mouth?" and he goes "I DO, I DO" and Sam Jumps. I think it's the episode where Woody and Sam are trying to get a kiss out of Rebecca, for a bet.

and the "Screaming viking". I think this was on Rebecca's first episode. someone opens the bar door shouting "Screaming Viking, and Al comes in saying "I haven't been called that since my honeymoon".

Someone told me that he used to be also on the background on some "Taxi" episodes. can anyone confirm this?

Gail Renard said...

You have a trainer?!

NYLouOC said...

Gail Renard said...
You have a trainer?!


Even I know thats mandatory when you belong to the Writer's Guild, right Ken?


Favorite bit player of all time: Phil Leeds - when he showed up on Barney Miller or some other show, it was always priceless. One my favorite BM moments of all time is in an episode where this woman is complaining about a suave Frenchman who has taken advantage of her. It turns out to be..Phil Leeds! When they bring him into the squad room, and she IDs him, Dietrich/Steve Landesburg just goes...."NO!"

Dave Lifton said...

Al Rosen was awesome. I once heard that he was Rhea Perlman's grandfather or something. Was that true?

Jaime J. Weinman said...

What about the guy on Taxi who was always in the cage with Danny DeVito? He hardly ever got to say anything, but he was in almost every episode. (His character did get a name, though: "Jeff.")

Emily Blake said...

That guy's lucky. My trainer hasn't had any lines yet but he got to walk Julia Roberts down the aisle in Mona Lisa Smile.

I wrote a short for him that I plan to shoot after I do my current short. He's really excited because he gets to say things on camera.

He always rehearses his audition pieces for me while I do squats.

I love LA.

Dante Kleinberg said...

Even with these unnamed parts, it's all who you know. Look at any writer or director's IMDB listing and you'll see they acted in a few of their own movies without being named...

... then look at the movies as a whole and see people with the same last name in other tiny parts...

It's all backslapping and finger tickles!!!

Anonymous said...

I auditioned for "Hurts When He Pees". I asked if, should I get the part, could I be credited as playing "Hutzven Hepies" of the Dutch Hepie clan.
I didn't get that part.

Tom Quigley said...

I had parts in a number of different shows when I lived out in LA -- and I didn't even go out there to be an actor... Start out with the right casting agency and they can get you into some decent shows with a little exposure. Among other things, I played (in no particular order): a pilgrim (THE SINGLE GUY), a party guest (THE CHRISTMAS WISH, a made for TV movie), mall shopper (HIGH INCIDENT, where I got a 2-shot with Blair Underwood), Guy who walks past Paul and Jamie (MAD ABOUT YOU) and a reporter (THE PRETENDER -- my car even got into that one, for which I think it should have been rightfully credited as "White Honda Civic Illegally Parked In Producer's Parking Spot")...

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I remember Second City TV doing a spoof on bit part actors. Joe Flaherty, doing a Kirk Douglas impression, said stars liked to play a game: To see how close they could get to bit players without acknowledging their presence. Funny bit.

Max Clarke said...

Al Rosen was a gem. He said one of the best lines ever. It came in the episode when Cheers holds a raffle for a trip to the Caribbean or someplace. The trouble is there are two apparent winners. Sam tries to talk one of them out of the prize. He says they'll get terrible skin damage in the sun there. Sam points to Al Rosen as an example. Al says, "I fell asleep on the beach!"

Justin said...

I can still see Al Rosen's face from Cheers - but if you IMDB him there's a gap from 1946 to 1980!!! What about Paul?

Craig Perko said...

There was a similar event on Babylon 5, where Jeff Conaway "slid" into a major role from being a random security goon...

Ken Levine said...

My next post will deal with Al Rosen and the other CHEERS patrons. Stay tuned.

Diogo said...

Another very sweet moment featuring Al Rosen came from a christmas themed episode of cheers (not certain which one) where for some reason which now escapes me, the subject that he is a lonely guy arises in a conversation, and by the end of the episode a whole bunch of people come in the bar and hug and enbrace him, bringing gifts. obviously he had a large family after all.

Diogo said...

And the classic "Dance,Mailman,Dance". the guy through like 30 lines on his 30 episodes, but he was always spot on the laughter. a very tricky thing, to say so few lines, and get those huge laughs. I'm sorry to be posting so many replies, but I just keep remembering these moments and each one seems better than the last. Al Rosen truly delivered. He was also (I believe) the only actor to have an episode of cheers dedicated to him. I believe that at the end of "Norm And Cliff's excellent adventure" it said "To our friend, Al Rosen". that's pretty remarkable if you consider none other background character had this kind of attention, not even the coach, although mentioned on screen, no program agnowledgement was made that the actor had passed away, or was it?

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

On a lark last year, I submitted the cast/crew list of a short film I was in to IMDB. I too was a thug, but I felt since I was the one submitting the cast list that it was only fair that I claimed to be Thug #1.

Will Teullive said...

Imagine telling your family and friends to suffer through this week’s “According to Jim”, because you are to be credited as “guy in waiting room with hemorrhoids” only to find that your three seconds much like a hemorrhoid, has been cut out.

Paul Duca said...

As I mentioned in a previous post you did about the late Jerry Belson, I mentioned the greatest acting credit ever, that appeared in SMILE, a movie he wrote:



Mara Finerty....Maggot Girl
(she was a beauty contest pageant contestant, doing a dramatic reading featuring the line "Rotting maggots of DEATH")

D. McEwan said...

Oh that's a tender topic. On stage, I have played Hamlet in HAMLET, both Puck & Bottom in different productions of A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM, both John Worthing & Algernon Moncreif in different productions of THE IMPORTENCE OF BEING EARNEST, the ghost of John Barrymore in I HATE HAMLET (I won 2 awards for that role.), Jack Absolute in THE RIVALS, Tennessee Williams in ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE (bio play about Williams.), Beverly Carlton in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, Mr. Goldberg in THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, Creon in both ANTIGONE and OEDIPUS THE KING, MacDuff in MACBETH, Fabian in TWELFTH NIGHT, Romeo in ROMEO & JULIET, Aeneus in TROILUS & CRESSIDA, ... this list goes on.

On TV and in film I have played "Fight Fan" (ROCKY II), "Dead Soldier," "Third Detective," "Guy Dressed as Robin Hood," Surgeon, "Apostle Peter" (He had a name but no lines), "Guy From the City," and I read for "Butler" on WINGS but didn't get it.

Why did I ever retire from acting?

Geoduck said...

I liked the method used in the Naked Gun movies where they list the bit players by their sole line of dialogue.

"Hey! It's Enrico Pallazzo!" (Which when seen in context is probably the funniest line in the movie...)

Paul Duca said...

Doug, that is interesting...I played Mr. Stanley in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, in high school (a production where the same person played both Beverly Carlton and Professor Metz, and was so distinct in each portrayal, most of the audience didn't realize it wasn't two seperate actors)