My eldest daughter returned home from school with a note saying that they were looking for children to audition as extras for the BBC and that she would like to go along. So we (the family) combined this with existing plans to meet up with friends in town at the venue in question seemingly for coffees and a chat. Luckily on the day we arrived early and avoided much of the queues while the BBC processed over 500 potential extras for their major new season of Shakespeare plays – “The Hollow Crown”
So some time passed and I got a phone call saying that if I was available the BBC could make use of me as an extra in a couple of upcoming films (Henry IV and Henry V). Great, that sounds interesting thought I and I went along the following Tuesday for a ‘fitting’. This involved dressing up as a Nobleman, complete with heavy robes, wig and floppy hat! Great fun!
On the day of filming I met up with my friend and we spent the best part of 12 hours being made up then, for the most part, walking ‘in to places’, ‘through places’ and ‘out of places’ within (and without) the magnificent Gloucester Cathedral – many, many times over while the Director ensured that everything was up to the mark.
Highlight of the day was having the fortune to be the last extra walking out of Henry V’s last resting place. As a result of this I was singled out for attention ‘as though I be an actor’ – I was the only extra in the scene (with a dead Tom Hiddleston / Henry V) who had indeed to ‘spring into action’* when the director called for the same (This I managed to do several times without tripping over). That said, anyone who knows me will know that I don’t really care for being singled out for attention so when I noticed that John Hurt was standing next to the camera with eyes focused intently on me (or so it seemed) I nearly shat myself. Thank god all I had to do was walk a few paces! (Now most people when they think of John Hurt in an acting role will probably think of “The Elephant Man” or “Caligula” or even Quentin Crisp but for me the association is with one of my favorite films which goes all the way back to 1979 … Alien! )
In discussing the day my friend remarked that appearing in such a film, even as an extra, is a once in a lifetime experience, and I have to agree, it was a fantastic day (albeit quite a tiring one, those robes were heavy!).
Oh, and before anyone gets too excited about my being singled out for a starring role in the production, I am sad to say that all you will maybe see in the film is my legs, walking, albeit slowly, and then, I suspect, only very fleetingly …
UPDATE – 22/7/2012
Spotted myself around 2 minutes in then settled down to watch the entire production & was in awe! Very proud to have been a part of this great series of Shakespeare plays.