Saturday, January 28, 2006

Spectacular Spider-fan

January 27th, 2006

Excelsior, true believers! Unca Rish is here with a semi-update about today's work.

Just lining up to check out on SPIDER-MAN 3. Except for one embarrassing and/or humiliating moment, which I may not elaborate on, this has been a nice day. I need to grow a thicker skin, really--

You know what? Today WAS a very nice day. That's better.

I love Spider-man. Since I was five years old, probably before you were even born, he's been my favourite superhero. I love the excellent, poignant work Stan Lee did way back in 1963 and how it continues to resonate with me today. And I have more Spidey comics than anyone I know (as opposite-of-impressive as that is*). I've adored him pretty much all my life.

I was such a fan that when I first moved to L.A., and had nary a piss to pot in, I worked on the first SPIDER-MAN for free. Then I was lucky enough to get to come back (and be paid) to be a high school student in the cafeteria scene (you know, where Peter catches the lunch tray and it gets all over Flash Thompson?). I've told many the story of how I felt the first time I saw Spidey in action that day (January 17th, 2001, it was), and once was moved to tears in telling a friend of how dear Gwen Stacy died.

I worked on the production the very first day of shooting SPIDER-MAN 3 back on November 5th, and here I am again. Honestly, I'm just glad to be a part of it.

Raimi was on the set again, still dressed in a suit and tie, while everyone else has jeans and t-shirts on, but though he dresses super-professional, he's a jokester and very entertaining to watch. He mocked Tobey Maguire a couple of times solely, it would seem, for the extras' amusement.

I found out a thing or two about the movie I didn't know, and I'm sort of hesitant to talk about it, since when I called my friend up, he wanted to hear absolutely no spoilers (our conversation ended up something like this: "I worked on SPIDER-MAN 3 today. It looks like it will be good. Kirsten Dunst is hot. So, what have you been up to?"). I have no heavy spoilers (except one, which I'll keep to myself), so will lightly talk about my day.

And yes, sad to say, Topher Grace is indeed playing Eddie Brock/Venom.

The scene we were shooting was at the beautiful Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles (and how any building in Downtown can still be beautiful, I don't know), subbing for a big Broadway playhouse. It was much nicer than I'd expect it to be--after all, who really goes to plays anymore?--with lovely architecture and carvings on the ceiling and lighted chandeliers.

I was just an audience member, dressed in a suit (I brought my Spider-man tie, but they wouldn't let me wear it), sitting next to my buddy Mark. About half down below and three-fourths in the upper level were inflatable extras, with still over five hundred of us live ones spread throughout the theatre, moving according to where the camera was.

It's the opening night on Broadway of a sort of Irving Berlin Revue, and Mary Jane Watson sings the opening number, "They Say It's Wonderful." Peter Parker (looking like the same ole Tobey Maguire) arrives just before it starts and sits, oddly enough, on the front row (either he's moved up in the world since SPIDEY 2, or MJ got him those primo seats).

The curtains open and she's at the top of a black staircase with a sparkling electric starfield behind her and a fog machine below, dressed in an old-time (though almost too sexy to be worn in 2006) green silk gown. As she slowly walks down the stairs, singing, "I can't recall who said it, I know I never read it; I only know they tell me that love is grand," she gives Peter a little smile. Oh, and the heart melts.

Peter says something to the person next to him (the music cut out every time he said this line, to get a clean dialogue track), and continues to watch. Mary Jane finishes her number and we applaud. The camera sweeps across the audience and up in the balcony, where everyone is looking down at Mary Jane except for one person. He lowers his opera glasses and glares menacingly at Peter Parker. This is Harry Osborn's reveal in the film.

I came close to buying a digital camera on my day off on Wednesday, but decided against it when I found out I know nothing about cameras or their capability or what I'd be getting for my not-hard-earned-but-still-scarce dollar. Regardless, it's doubtful I would've had any Spidey stuff to show you had I bought the camera. They have been SERIOUSLY strict against taking pictures on the set, and warned against even bringing cellphones in, since most of them have photo capability now.**

They broke us several times to go back to our tent and wait while they shot other parts of the show. I dozed for about half an hour, and read my book. Right before lunch, I saw (Executive Producer) Avi Arad for a moment, and he was as friendly as ever. I asked him whether this was the opening scene of the film, and he, always closed-mouthed, said, "Somewhere around there." Later, from the sides, I found the dialogue was from page eight of the screenplay.

Kirsten Dunst, with her hair all up in a bun, was cute and personable, keeping herself amused while she did take after take of going up and down the staircase. It wasn't Dunst's voice on the guidetrack, but you could hear her singing along with it take after take, so it will at least look like she's really signing. It would be nice to hear give it a try with her own voice, but if they were doing that, it would probably already have been on the playback.

Tobey's stand-in looks just like him. People were speculating that it was his brother, but there's something so humiliating about that possibility that I discount it. James Franco I said hello to (even though we're not supposed to) and he looks the same as ever. I really like what they've done with his character, since I wouldn't even have thought to have him back in SPIDER-MAN 2.

The day was long, especially for those who showed up at five or five-thirty (in retrospect, I wish I'd have been one of them, since it's the end of the month and my bank account is not exactly full), but it was reallllllly easy work, even for us.

At the end of the night, when everybody--even the lowliest non-union extra like me--was making really good overtime, people were bitching and complaining to no end. Indeed, the people on the row behind me produced so much whine . . . it would've drowned Earnest and Julio Gallo.***

Sometimes it is tiring work to be an extra, especially--and this is somewhat hard to express, when after all, we are in show business, surrounded by the rich, handsome, and famous--since we are sometimes reminded that we are not people, not important pieces of the puzzle, but just human props, no more integral to the production than those inflatable ones who simply sit, noncomplaining, all day beside us.

To be honest, I could've sat there all night, hearing that song play and watching Kirsten Dunst go up and down those stairs. And not just because she was lovely, but because it was SPIDER-MAN 3.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Rish Outfield

*Which reminds me of something Kristina said back in the day. It freaked me out for almost a year. I think I'll write an essay about it . . . maybe for Valentine's Day.

**NEVERTHELESS, during one of the takes at the end of the day, a flash went off among the background, and the A.D.s freaked out about it, saying there would be hell to pay if it happened again. It didn't, but there is a picture out there that somebody took of Kirsten Dunst in the green gown . . . somewhere.

***Which I realise is a dated and unfunny joke, but I couldn't think of anything better. And believe me, I tried. I thought about drunkards, other winemakers, or celebrities that drank themselves to death, even of Jesus, but no inspiration came.

11 comments:

kenp said...

Rish,

I also worked on SM1 as an extra on BeInAMovie - Can I ask you which extra agency you used to be in Spiderman3?

--Ken (san diego, ca)

Rish Outfield said...

Central Casting/Cenex is handling the extras casting on the film.

kenp said...

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

grace is venom for sure?

Rish Outfield said...

He is, unless the callsheets were somehow an elaborate lie to trick the cast and crew (after all, the public doesn't see them, only those working on the production), who would know the truth as soon as Topher Grace shoots his scenes anyway.

Toren said...

Did you not have to sign a NDA? I figured that would keep you from revealing anything you've seen while on the job.

Rish Outfield said...

Nope. In fact, the only time I've ever had to sign one of them was when I worked on "Desperate Housewives" the first time. Oddly, when I did it the second time, none of us had to.

benson said...

do u have any other info on grace other then he is venom?

Anonymous said...

is Kevin Bacon Really hobgoblin in SM3? And I really can't see Thomas Hayden Church being Sandman...he still reminds me of the goofball from Wings..how can you take that guy seriously?

Rish Outfield said...

I don't know anything about Kevin Bacon. His name was not on the callsheets, but hey, I haven't worked on the film since January, and it seems more likely I'll get to mud-wrestle Jessica Alba than get to work on it again.

As far as Thomas Church as the Sandman goes, he was in really good shape on the set and the scene we did certainly showed his character to be deadly, but I do understand what you mean. I pretty much see him as the dopey "Wings" Lowell character every time he shows up in something, even in DEMON KNIGHT, where he played a huge tool. I've always felt The Sandman was more of a frustrated brute than an evil, hateful guy, and maybe Raimi is going that way in SPIDER-MAN 3.

Since I made this blog post, a girl I know worked on a scene with Peter (Tobey Maguire) and Gwen Stacy (Bryce Howard) in a restaurant. I asked her what happened in the scene and she said, "I dunno, they ate and talked, I guess." I asked what they talked about, and she said, "Who?"

Sadly, this was the same girl I considered asking if she would make out with me last week.

Anonymous said...

What role is Dallas Bryce Howard playing???