Movie extras are by their nature, not supposed to be memorable. In fact, the definition of an extra according to Wikipedia is…“a performer who appears in a nonspeaking or nonsinging (silent) capacity, usually in the background.” But there are those rare occasions when background actors take our attention away from the main players, and by some miracle, the results end up in the final product.
The moments that follow are no mere goofs (if they were, the Stormtrooper from Star Wars would always win hands down) but rather decisions made on the part of the extra that make them stand out for all the wrong reasons. Some are accidental, others we can only assume were done in an effort to sabotage the film in which they appear. But in all cases these moments take you out of the film your watching, and illicit a response from the audience that is best summed up with three letters: WTF.
Now on to the countdown!
5. CROTCH FAN – TEEN WOLF
This moment was famously referenced in an episode of Family Guy, which made the whole world believe a random dude exposes his unmentionables during the film’s climactic scenes. Years later, widescreen versions of the film would reveal that the extra in question was in fact a woman. So maybe a little less shocking, but still, just what the hell was she doing with her fly open in the first place? Your eye can’t help but be drawn to the top of the frame, away from star Michael J. Fox and instead towards the crotch of this meaningless character. So probably not what the director intended then.
4. BLOFELD’S CAT – YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE
Who said our countdown couldn’t include pets? In this scene from Bond entry You Only Live Twice, Donald Pleasence tries his very best to look fearsome in front of Bond and his henchmen, something he has great trouble doing while his feisty feline sidekick is having a mini freak out the entire time. When they said never work with children or animals, they were probably referring specifically to this scene.
3. ROCK THROWER – PLANET OF THE APES
And the Oscar for most half-arsed performance of all time goes to…this guy! In a scene where the audience is supposed to believe Charlton Heston is in danger as he’s pelted with all manner of objects by an entire village, one extra decides he’s not too fussed really. It should be a moment of unstoppable rage on the apes part, but instead it’s like an uncoordinated eight year old trying out shot-put for the first time. Perhaps this is a case of method acting at its finest, with the extra deciding his/her character should disagree with ape-kinds treatment of this human outsider. Or, maybe its just shit acting.
2. DOC BROWN’S SON – BACK TO THE FUTURE III
The second of our two crotch related entries in the countdown, this moment occurs in the very last scene of the Back to the Future trilogy when Doc is introducing Marty to his two sons, Jules and Verne. Jules seems normal enough, but it’s Verne who grabs the viewers attention most with his unmistakable gesturing towards his privates. According to inside sources, this was simply the child actor’s method of announcing to the crew he needed to go pee-pee. That may be so, but it doesn’t make the moment any less distracting.
1. STRIPED SHIRT WOMAN – TWINS
There are more background actors in this scene than a Where’s Wally cover, so it’s somewhat fitting that the extra who stands out the most is dressed in red and white attire. Throughout a lengthy shot, she manages to zigzag her way through the background of the shot no less than seven times, no mean feat given the fact that two of Hollywood’s biggest (and smallest) stars are acting in the foreground. As baffling as it seems to us, imagine how pissed off the filmmakers must of been when they first noticed this in the edit suite, knowing full well that due to the nature of the scene, there was no way they could cut her out without losing the whole thing. So there it stayed, forever etched in celluloid history: The woman in Red who steals the show from Arnie and Devito for all the wrong reasons. You have to admire her persistence.
That’s all folks! As always, be sure to share your own top picks in the comments section below, and let us know which extras took you out of a film.