Today I would like to talk to you about a movie you will not see me in. The movie is called Extraordinary Measures, starring Han Solo and Encino Man. Extraordinary Measures is the very first movie that I worked on. I was a stand-in for this guy:
Jared Harris. A British actor who often plays Americans. Unless he is the bad guy, when he whips out that sinister British accent.
I was not expecting to get such an interesting part in the movie. I only signed up to be an extra, but this plum job got offered to me and I accepted. Being a stand-in can be demanding: you have to pay attention to what the actor does in rehearsal so you can mimic his movements so the camera guys and the lighting guys can set up. You also have to wear approximately what the actor is wearing, which for me meant a suit. Finally, you have to resemble the actor. Fortunately, my genetics suit me perfectly to stand in for a fair-skinned, light-haired guy who happens to have enormous pectoral muscles. There wasn’t a scene in which Mr. Harris had to bust out of his shirt, Hulk-style, but I would have been ready to practice that for the cameras.
I wasn’t around for the whole shoot, so much of the movie will be a surprise to me when I see it. I know a bit of the plot from guesswork (reading the dailies and trying to piece them together into a story) and from talking to the crew while on set. It’s about a guy, John Crowley, whose kids have a deadly disease. Crowley is also a doctor, so he begins doing research in hope of finding a cure. Unable to work alone, he teams up with a rogue doctor, Dr. Harrison von Stonehill, and together they attempt to subvert the system to get the job done. The character Mr. Harris plays, Dr. Kent Webber, is more traditional in his approach to funding medical research, so of course he buts heads with Dr. Stonehill and John Crowley.
Then there’s a big car chase, followed by the Clone Wars, capped off with the explosion in the Seventh Dimension. Your typical medical drama.
You should all go see this movie, not because you will see me (you won’t), but because you’ll see some awesome actors acting awesomely. You’ll also see quite a bit of the Portland area and the Oregon coast.
It was a real pleasure watching not only Harrison Ford, Jared Harris, and Brendan Frasier work, but getting to see how a movie is made, setup by setup. People who know better than me have said the process gets old after a while, but I had so many questions answered I never felt boredom creeping in. I also had time to read two very good books.
And since Jared Harris seems to be the only actor (well, maybe not the only one) I could stand in for, I hope he comes back to work here again.