My Four Seconds Next to Nicolas Cage September 26, 2008

My Four Seconds Next to Nicolas Cage

A couple years ago, a college friend of mine found out they were holding a casting call for extras for a Nicolas Cage movie being filmed in Chicago called The Weatherman.

The two of us showed up at an office building in the city, where a staffer had us both fill out forms with vital information (name, age, height, etc) and took a polaroid an inch from our face.

A few days later, I got a call saying they wanted me in the movie and that I should show up at City Hall on Saturday morning wearing “dark, but casual” clothing.

My friend didn’t get a call. (I will hold that over her head *forever*.)

I went by myself to City Hall that weekend on what felt like the coldest day I’d ever experienced in Chicago. No snow; just freezing wind like you wouldn’t believe.

We were told that the main scene we’d be filming was one where Nicolas Cage would stroll down a sidewalk, thinking to himself. In the actual movie, a voiceover would be heard with his thoughts. The extras would be the other people on the sidewalk.

I took a seat next to some other extras and minded my own business for a few minutes. Then some lady working on the movie came around and put us into groups. The people sitting closest to her were in group 1… then group 2… and so on. I was in group 3289423.

This meant I would be as far away from the camera as humanly possibly.

So I took the long walk to my designated spot away from the camera, cursing my bad luck. I came there to be in a movie and the camera wasn’t going to see me at all!

We were so far away, in fact, that a crew member told us we had no business being outside. We could go back inside where it was warm and wait until we were needed.

The other extras were thrilled at the idea of getting paid minimum wage to sit and do nothing. I was pissed. My shot at being in a movie was passing quickly.

So instead of walking back to the holding area, I saw another group — closer to the camera — already positioned. Some people were facing the camera, some were facing the opposite way, some were right next to each other.

I decided to make my move.

No one was really paying attention, so I snuck into the group.

And faced the camera.

No one called me out on it.

We began doing some run-throughs of the scene. On the cue, we were told to walk in the direction we were told. They told us to walk fast or slow or in a zig-zag manner — Look normal, in other words.

After a couple takes of this, a van pulled around to my area and Cage stepped out!… taking the spot of the man in front of me. Who apparently was his body double for blocking purposes.

I was right behind him. I’m not even a huge fan of his movies, but when he’s right there, you just sort of want to touch him…

I refrained.

We did a couple more takes. I figured out that when Cage crossed a particular intersection, a Chicago bus took the cue and began driving across the street. (From the camera’s standpoint, it would help make the scene environment look more like a real city.)

I realized that in order to be in the shot, I needed to do two things: cross the street faster than Cage (and then slow the hell down afterwards so he could catch up with me). And stay by his side as much as possible. He was obviously going to be in the movie… so if I stayed glued to his side, I would have to be in the movie.

It was foolproof!

And while all the other extras did their job and walked in random directions at various speeds, I stayed close to Cage. No one stopped me 🙂

It finally came to my attention that the link of my four seconds of movie-fame is on YouTube!

Check out the 0:17 mark!

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  • Headline:

    Atheist stalks Nicolas Cage

    Story at eleven.

    Too cool, man.

  • Oh Wow! That’s awesome!

  • Kate

    Hahahahahaha, Hemant that is so badass. I love it! 🙂

  • philosophia

    LMAO. That is totally awesome, dude 😀

  • Hemant, your description of your carefully-plotted maneuvering is hysterical! Thanks for sharing!

  • That’s hilarious, great job! You do “serious contemplation face while walking in the cold” so well -it’s Oscar Worthy! lol

  • Desert Son

    Congratulations, Hemant, that’s hilarious 🙂

    Next movie, wear an atheist t-shirt 😉

    Weather permitting, of course . . .

    No kings,


  • Author, educator, movie star, what are you planning on doing next? Land on the moon? Run for President?

  • Siamang


    To look totally cool and hollywood, you must refer to him as Nic Cage.

  • Larry Huffman

    Damn atheists always doing their own thing and ruining everything!!

    Good job Hemant…thought I recognized you in that movie. 😉

  • Larry Huffman

    Frog…lol…very funny.

    Hemant, I would love to hear how you manage to go to the moon. “They were allowing some onto the base to watch, I figured that the astronauts were definately going to the moon, so if I just stuck next to them I would have a pretty good shot”…and then posting a pic of himself, as he casually follows them into the shuttle.

  • mikespeir

    (Nicolas Who?)

    Do you sign autographs, Hemant?

  • Sue

    You didn’t do as you were told. You saw opportunities, took them, and found success. Bravo!

  • sc0tt

    Minimum wage… really?

  • SarahH

    I cannot stand Nicolas Cage. He and Helen Hunt are the two actors that inspire irrational and severe irritation in me. You, however, were AWESOME and quite clever to make sure you made it into the shot! Lookin’ good!

  • O_O

    You’re a movie star!

  • Too cool, Hemant. Thanks for sharing.

  • By putting you in the group farthest from the camera it is clear to me that this was just an affirmative action hire and you were only selected to be the token Indian in the film. However, with a little luck and gumption you successfully stuck it to the man. Bravo.

  • Milena

    I hear you Sarah. I can’t even watch Nicolas Cage movies. Still, congrats Hemant. You totally steal the shot! Nicolas Cage has got nothing on you!

  • Margy

    This is hilarious! Good for you, Hemant! You are one cool dude, and now you’ve been immortalized in film forever. LOVE it! (BTW, some days, your blog, Jon Stewart, and Rachel Maddox are ALL that keeps me sane.)

  • Hemant,

    You are too funny. Very strategic, indeed! 🙂 You look great on the clip!

  • Anne

    That’s so cool! I love how you maneuvered into the other group. You rebel, you! This is only the beginning, right? 🙂

  • Polly

    Nic Cage sux. Good thing you were there to class up the movie, Hemant.

    Also, what Joey said.
    Rules are for suckers.

  • Emily

    This is a funny entry. Haha.
    Good thing you weren’t caught. 🙂

  • Sweet!

    My wife and I were unpaid extras in the upcoming biopic Milk starring Sean Penn. In one scene both of us were trailing right behind Sean and Emile Hirsch and the two of them stopped short, causing my wife (fiancee at the time) to actually stumble into Emile.

    I don’t know if we’ll actually end up with any on-screen time in the finished movie which is due to premier in November. But given that we did two nights and three days worth of filming there’s a chance we might have at least a split second or so. It will probably be something like, “Hey–there’s my left arm!”

    For what it’s worth, here’s the trailer which we’ve already confirmed we’re not in.

  • Jen

    So the lesson here is to ignore authority and do whatever you want, and then you get to be a star? Hope your class isn’t secretly reading this. (Kids: ignore Mr Mehta! Then you will be in a movie!)

  • So the lesson here is to ignore authority and do whatever you want, and then you get to be a star? Hope your class isn’t secretly reading this. (Kids: ignore Mr Mehta! Then you will be in a movie!)

    Are you kidding?! This is the story I tell the kids on the first day 🙂

  • GREAT!

    I’ll try and do the same whenever a movie is being done around here. Preferably with Angelina Jolie on it…

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