10 Hollywood Extras Share Behind-the-Scenes Secrets

If you’ve never worked on a movie set, there’s a good chance you’d love to work on a movie set. It sounds so exciting and fun, being in the middle of making art like that, and in some ways, it is.

In the day-to-day, minute-to-minute ways, though, it’s pretty boring.

Oh, well. At least we’ve got these 10 Hollywood extras to dish secrets while we’re waiting for the main character to walk down that street in Midtown AGAIN.

10. They get really good at miming.

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It’s the job of extras to make a scene appear alive and bustling, but also not to make any noise that will interfere with the main action or dialogue. They have to mine having conversations, etc, silently.

They pretend to dance without music, to applaud without clapping, and cheer without noise. It must be pretty weird to watch!

9. They’re usually not professionals.

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Most extras have other jobs and take silent parts in movies just for fun.

No one is there to get their big break, though some people are still hopeful.

8. They don’t talk to the “real” talent.

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The unspoken rule is not to speak to the principal actors unless they speak to you first.

Some have been told not to look a certain actor or actress in the eye or face getting kicked off the set, and others have gotten glimpses into the real personality of huge stars – for better or for worse.

7. It’s mostly hurry-up-and-wait.

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Days on set are long – really, really long – and you spend most of it waiting for something to happen.

If you’re an extra, you could even wait all day and never end up in a scene at all – or the scene you film could end up on the cutting room floor.

Bring a book, or something to do, or you’ll be sorry.

6. Social media is off-limits.

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Phones aren’t allowed on set, and taking pictures is forbidden.

Violating those rules mean never working on a set again, though some extras have gotten really good at snatching little souvenirs that no one will (probably) miss.

5. The booze is fake.

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If characters are drinking on film, it’s most likely not real alcohol. That said, in bar and party scenes, something has to go in the glasses – and according to the extras, it’s seltzer with food coloring, or maybe vinegar.

Also, fun fact, they use gelatin ice cubes to avoid having to replace all of the ones that have melted.

4. The catering is a nice perk.

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Craft services isn’t your run-of-the-mill catering. If you’re working on a set with a decent budget, the food offerings could be a major perk of whiling away your days waiting for someone to call your name.

That said, meal times can be odd – lunch at 3, dinner at 10 – so you’ll also want to pack some snacks of your own.

3. You get paid extra for smoking.

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Actors aren’t usually smoking real cigarettes – usually they’re herbal – and if an extra is asked to smoke in a scene, they’ll get a “bump” in their daily wage.

Fun fact: it also applies to cars. They want boring ones for the background, and something boring like a Toyota Camry or Honda CRV can net you $20 or so a day.

2. You have to wear the same clothes every day.

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There’s a whole job (sometimes more than one) on set that revolves around making sure that, if a scene is shot over multiple days, everything in it looks exactly the same from one shot to the next.

That means clothing, among other things, so every single thing you’re wearing, and how you’re wearing it, will need to be the same from day-to-say.

A production assistant will take your picture to compare.

1. The blander the better.

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You’ll usually wear your own clothes, and they prefer you pick gray, black, tan, dark blue, or something else nondescript.

No visible logos, either, and white is discouraged (you should never wear white on any kind of film!).

If you resemble one of the actors, you probably won’t be used much – and if you can’t stop yourself from staring at the camera, they might tell you to take a hike.

I miss my film set days, y’all! Even the boring parts.

But not the filming on location, outdoors, when it’s freezing. That sucked.