Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Russel Brand of ARTHUR for 2011

A very different Arthur from the one in the 1980's... Russel Brand kept sniffing "booze" from a plastic water bottle in order to keep his "spirits up" -so to speak. And as the wedding scene wore on through the day and into the night at New York City's St. Bartholomew's, Russel became totally inebriated -which made his "strip scene" a totally fall-down drunk success!

(When the movie came out, I got a few microseconds of face-time.)

Yes folks. Russel took it down to his blue "tidy whities" for the big finale! And managed to prance back onto the set to do it over and over and over... ugh...and over again. Supported through it all by our background "noises of aversion" as wedding guest extras.
It was the big "rebellion" scene. But quite frankly, it was Jennifer Garner who made the most of it all. Walking elegantly down the aisle with her "daddy" played by Nick Nolte. And later as the punch-throwing angry bride in response to Arthur's objection to their wedding at the altar.
When I first saw Nick Nolte, his powerful role from Rich Man/Poor Man immediately popped into my mind. And of course the subsequent newspaper stories about his substance abuse and rapid decline from his heyday as a strong actor. His presence as Jennifer's tough-guy father dressed in a fancy tuxedo was way too passive. But looking into his face just a few feet away from us was memorable. More so for me because he resembled my Uncle Louie -and for a few moments I was lost in those fond memories of playing chess with my now deceased relative.

I was hoping that Helen Miren (as Arthur's faithful and worldly butler) would be there also -but alas (and a definite lack), the scene did not call for it. However, there was a cute bridesmaid at the altar who resembled Maggie Gyllenthaal a lot. So much so that I needed verification that it wasn't her, from my daylong companion on my left, Christine. Christine was very definite: NO! that's not Maggie. Nonetheless, I kept staring at the poor actress all day -perhaps in hopes that Christine was wrong!?

In the vein of my personal philosophy regarding the best seat in the house (personal quote: "The real show goes on backstage!") was most brought to life during this stint. Primarily because of the kookie couple sitting behind me doing the "running commentary routine" about every moment with the stars. They violated every rule in the "extras book" and took photos of everything with their phone-cameras as the scene was being set up, being filmed -and pretty much at any time they pleased. Their phones would jingle at odd times... they'd carry on conversations while filming was ongoing and chat with the actors between takes... etc. AND NO ONE EVER CALLED THEM OUT FOR IT! The usual "punishment" for getting caught taking pictures or bugging the stars is instant ejection from the set. But the stars were generous with their time and attention to the extras -so, as it turned out, everyone had a great time.

In one instance Jennifer took advice from one of the "wedding guest" extras sitting on the aisle regarding the necessity for everyone to "stand up during the bride's walk" down the aisle. Jennifer openly spoke to the director, Jason Winer...
...and the correction was immediately instituted. Later Jennifer saw that we were beginning to nod off from our long stint inside St. Bart's not-so-comfortable pew sitting, so she asked us to do the "WAVE" (you know, the one done at baseball games) -and it worked. We were all a bit more alert for the final takes, at the end of which, Russel (covered by a robe), gave a short "thank you to the extras" speech. That was unexpectedly nice (given his sniffed-up mental state)... but we were all very tired and, while appreciative of the recognition, ran out of the building to stand on the voucher line, which was now hundreds of extras long. The total stint was from 7:AM to 9:PM. And we, non-union extras, only got treated to a cup of water and an apple -and a walkaway lunch (read: buy your own) from the chincy Warner Brothers.