Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hey, weren't you "Jerk at the bar"?

A trainer in my gym is also an actor. (I know – knock you over with a feather). He recently appeared on the Showtime series CALIFORNICATION playing the fan favorite, “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

24 comments:

Chris said...

Sometimes those actors do get to play bigger roles after time. Jeff Goldblum was credited as "Freak #1" in Death Wish. He would later get to be "Lacey Party Guest" in Annie Hall. I think he's worked a bit since then as well.

Sylvia said...

My favorite non-named character names are from the movie Can't Hardly Wait: "Ready to Have Sex Girl" and her friend, "Ready to Have Sex's Friend".

Penh said...

I thought it was great in The Naked Gun when the one-line extras were listed with their one line in the credits. It was much easier to remember who "It's Enrico Pallazzo!" was than "Guy in stands #1".

Tim W. said...

Ken, just out of interest, what do you list these guys as in the script. When you wrote a episode of Cheers and gave a line to the Man Who Said Sinatra, is that literally what his character is called in the script?

I've sometimes named a character something like this, then felt it started to look a little strange if I used it more than once or twice.

VW: dedly- More deadly (What? You were expecting something else?)

Charles Jurries said...

As someone who worked as a background actor on a college film, and then a mid-level independent film, I have to say... I'm very jealous of the extras who get names! I know to many people, it may seem trivial. (It is.) However, that's so much cooler than just having the satisfaction (and no screen credit) of being one of many obnoxious faces in the background. :D

Anonymous said...

It's funny that someone mentioned Can't Hardly Wait. I was an acting major at Marymount Manhattan when Eric Palladino (Cousin Ron in Can't Hardly Wait) was there. I was unfortunately not able to hack the head shot/resume, barely credited years like he was. Now that I see the early work of these actors who made it through the gauntlet, I have tremendous respect for their drive. Many of them who aren't as fortunate sa a Palladino, put themselve through the wringer every day - "Is it time to give it up and focus on the day job, or does that just make me a quiter?" Tough call ...

Once in a downtown off-off-off production of an adaptation of Kafka's Metamorphosis, I played Border #1 and Border #2 simultaniously (they were a couple - I played the male as me and the female was an evil looking puppet with a long flowing dress.)

At least the guy on Cheers was getting union wages. I think the Rolling Rocks were free during the Kafka run, seemed like a good deal at the time.

Jen said...

I read a story about Colm Meaney, who in Season 1 of Star Trek:TNG played a nameless helmsmen. One day he came to work, and was aghast to see the helmsman was now going to be some character called O'Brien. He went to raise hell and was told, "It's still you, we just gave you a name."

And of course he ended up being a great character, and main cast member of ST:DS9.

Sebastian said...

Kevin Pollak recently re-tweeted me. Could someone tell me how to phrase that for non-geeks without sounding dirty?

"Hey, the guy from Usual Suspects recently RTed me... you know what, nevermind"...

Calliope said...

My favorite no-name credit is from a lovely little comedy called "Hearts of the West". Who could forget "Noodle in Pith Helmet"? Now that's something for your resume!

Paul Duca said...

"Maggots Girl" in SMILE....nothing will EVER top that
(not even "Schmuck with Blog").

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Hey Schmuck with Blog,

Since the last time you posted this entry (or at least I think you did), do you still go to a gym? ;)

(There, for those who might complain that they've seen this entry before, I did it for you)

Rinaldo said...

I have very fond memories of Hearts of the West. But "Noodle in Pith Helmet" was actually someone whose movie roles started big and got smaller and smaller: Tucker Smith, whose screen debut was Ice, the Jet who sang "Cool" in West Side Story.

Jon Delfin said...

Playing piano one day for auditions for a theater group that did medical-themed musicals for kid audiences. Scary looking guy comes in to sing for them. On his résumé, a film credit: Head on Table in Autopsy Room. Eww.

Jim said...

In the past few years, I've started watching credits, looking for (now) familiar names in credits with roles like "Jerk at the Bar". David Schwimmer was "Cop #2" in Nicholson's Wolf. I guess teh most famous is Richard Dreyfus as "Guy Over Landlord's Shoulder" in the Graduate.

KEN LEVINE said...

Rory,

I do still go to the gym (was there yesterday). And I do from time to time re-post articles from a couple of years ago, knowing that I've added a lot of new readers in that time who never saw it the first time. And again, no one is paying me to write a blog every day.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Rest assured, Ken, it was in jest. I've always wanted to get there before others do to complain about the usual thing, but without actually complaining.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Yes, I'm easily amused.

blogward said...

It was even better this time round.

WV: vionesha - if it isn't an ebonic girl's name, it should be.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Anonymous,

How do you play a border? Do you lie down between two countries, or counties?

Anonymous said...

So that would be "boarder". I should probably hire a personal editor before I throw out a comment. Hopefully I'll make it through this one unscathed. Maybe I just don't have the chops to sit at the table with the big boys. Sorry Cap'n ...

Adam Vernier said...

I was CONSTRUCTION MAN in an episode of BECKER that YOU directed! I thank you for the work. I have also been LARGE MAN, Pool Shark, and Cop #1, #2, #3, #4 and even #5! Anytime I have a name, it is usually prefaced with a "Major", "Detective", or "LT.". Like you say, I am happy to have the work!

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I love a good creative typo and only point out the better ones. I wish I could make them, but mine are just the result of lousy tpying. (See what I mean?)

Joe said...

I don't mind things being reposted if I've never seen them before.

-Putz Without Agent

Noah said...

Years ago I was hired by a small summer theatre in Massachusetts to write a stage version of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE and I had the idea to have two actors, dressed as a maid and a butler play multiple small roles and act as voiced inside Jekyll's head. They're pretty fun parts that versatile actors can do a lot with, but, unfortunately, all you can put on the resume is "Maid" and "Butler." Of course, the actress who played the Maid in the premiere production (Marin Ireland) was just nominated for a Tony, so apparently it didn't hurt her.

(This comment wound up tooting my own horn a lot ... not my intent. Oh, and Marin Ireland is a truly fantastic actress.)