Now it can be told: I was a background extra in Wonder Woman 1984.

Blink and you'll miss me; I was just a blur scurrying around in the early scene set at the mall. (No spoiler; it's been in most of the promos.)

Some of you may know I dabble in background extra work. Some of you may even have spotted me in a TV show here or there. Recently, I was on-screen in Charm City Kings on HBO Max (about halfway through; I was a driver who waved away a couple of kids with squeegees trying to wash my windshield).

I also worked on several episodes of the final season of House of Cards, which filmed in Maryland in the summer of 2018. I was on-screen in one episode walking out of a church behind the Vice President (twice) and in others, among the reporters in the White House Briefing Room.

One of the days I was there, the guy from the casting agency said to me, "I've got a project coming up, and you'll be great for it. DON'T CUT YOUR HAIR!" Fine by me; I hate getting my hair cut. (I’ve had exactly two this year, one for a TV gig in March just before COVID hit, and one for a wedding in October that didn’t happen because the bride had a stroke. She’s all better now, and she and the groom – my brother – got married almost as soon as she left the hospital. Life’s too short for ceremony.)

Soon after, I signed on for “Magic Hour.” As the production started up, there was lots of local news coverage in Washington that “Magic Hour” was just a code name, and the real project was Wonder Woman 1984. As I was then (and still am) a freelance writer who writes about comics and movies, I felt duty-bound to tell this to the guy at the casting agency, afraid I wouldn’t be eligible.

He asked me if I was going to write an article.

I told him I wasn’t.

“Fine, ’cause they’ll sue ya.”

With this as my blessing to proceed, I signed up.

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The base of operations for "Magic Hour" was a vacant Macy's department store attached to an equally vacant shopping mall in Alexandria, Va. I went there to sign up and get fitted for wardrobe. The Macy's was subdivided into several areas with chain-link fences covered in white sheets -- costumes and wardrobe, hair and makeup, and extras holding, which became our home away from home for the duration of the shoot.

As a background extra, on most jobs we bring our own clothes and let the wardrobe person select what's suitable. As "Magic Hour" (heh) was set in the 1980s, they provided outfits and hairstyles. I would up in a green shirt, high-waisted khakis, a black belt, white socks and my own Docksiders, which I would dutifully change into each day. I had a particular hanger in the wardrobe area with a number attached to each garment so I'd match every day.

My first day of filming required me to be at the Macy's at 6 a.m. on a weekday in June, which meant getting up at 4:30 a.m. to drive over there. But they fed us a hot breakfast, which kind of made up for it. One thing about movie productions is that meals are a massive operation, and this production had to feed hundreds of people -- something like 400 extras as well as the crew. 

Some of the extras are members of the SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists; they used to be separate unions, but they merged), but for a production this big, the producers can get waivers to bring in non-union people. I'm non-union; I don't do this often enough to justify paying the hefty membership fees and dues. Also, being in the union means being forbidden from working on non-union projects, which I'm not prepared to forgo. The tradeoff is there are theoretically more opportunities, but they pay less. 

If you're not careful, Kelvin, you'll run the risk of becoming one of those "Hey, it's that guy!" characters. :)

We saw ya! (Well, we saw the green blur.)


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