~Meet the Extraordinary WFE Film Extras~

April 29, 2010 ~ The ‘extra’, also called a ‘background actor’, is one of the least known and little praised actors in the film industry. However, they are the most important actor in the sense that they enrich a  film’s atmosphere. What would any film be without the ‘background’ performers? Imagine any epic film or even a smaller intimate film without the ‘extra’ or ‘background actor’…  Water for Elephants film blog took that in to consideration and decided that  the unsung ‘film extra’ deserved a little recognition, thus the creation of the  ~Extraordinary WFE Film Extra~  page. Please scroll down the page to view each actor. (Note: These actors have agreed to appear on my blog exclusively. Their images and my content are © copyright and may not be copied to your website or blog, all rights reserved. Link back only.)

Glen McDougal: Circus Band Bandleader
Glen was one of the actors that attended the Sande Alessi open casting call held April 17th.  His audition included him playing an instrument, his being  the cornet (or pocket trumpet). Glen won the part of the bandleader and mentions that there will be a ten-piece circus band in Water for Elephants.  His first day of filming is June 4th. I will be staying in touch with Glen for further details (with respect to the production company’s wish for confidentiality, of course) In the meantime check out Glen’s extensive resume,  just click on his name above to view. I also added a couple of Glen’s videos to the WFE Video page. Thanks Glen!

David Dustin Kenyon: Benzini Bros. Circus Roustabout
David also attended the open casting call held April 17th. His impressive 1930’s era face won Director Francis Lawrence over and he got the part of a circus roustabout. David will begin filming May 20th and I will be staying in touch with him for further details (again,
with respect to the production company’s wish for confidentiality, of course). Check out David’s impressive resume by clicking on his name above. Thank you David!

Cody Wood: Rube (originally cast as Circus Band Fiddler)
Cody auditioned for Sande Alessi Casting on April 23rd for the part of the ‘fiddler’ with four other actors. He won the role and will be performing in the Circus Band with Glen McDougal, (above) the Circus Bandleader.  He had his costume fitting on May 4th and is letting his hair grow out a bit before it’s trimmed at the end of the month. Cody is a singer, songwriter, and actor who has transformed from classical violinist to contemporary solo artist, stage performer, and actor. He recently performed as the “fiddler” for Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts. Cody is very excited to be a part of Water for Elephants and says, “I turned down the leading role in a extended theatrical production in Durango, CO to take part in the movie”. Well, we’re glad you did because you are going to have a great time filming WFE!  We’ll be keeping up with Cody when filming begins. His first scheduled shoot date is June 4th. Cody’s a very talented musician, check out his website for more details, just click his name link above. Thanks Cody! Edited: Unfortunately Cody’s part as the ‘fiddler’ was cut from the final script, but the casting agency found a way for him to be a part of WFE as a ‘Rube’ (circus goer/townsfolk). He had a great time on set and you can read all about it in his fabulous Set Story, WFE: A Rubes-Eye View. Thanks again, Cody!

Kevin Hawley: Goshen (New York) Circus Roustabout
Kevin attended the April 17th open casting call and the casting director told him he had a ‘great vintage look’ (we think so too!) he says that he hears that a lot, and adds- The best part about being “type cast” is being “cast”. He was subsequently cast as one of the Goshen, NY Roustabouts (Goshen, NY is the town where the Benzini Brothers’ Circus acquires Rosie the Elephant from the Fox Brothers’ Circus ‘remains’ that have been turned over to the town because they have gone ‘belly up’). Kevin went for his costume fitting the other day and  since he had been letting his hair and beard grow out for another audition was quite surprised when they asked him if it was all right to let them trim his hair, he responded – “Hair today…gone tomorrow!” Kevin also mentioned that he’s very excited about this film project and will begin reading Water for Elephants, the novel, this month. I will be keeping in touch with him for more fun; filming for Kevin begins May 20th. Please check out Kevin’s film resume by clicking his name link above. Thank you Kevin!

Joe Langer: Circus Band Tuba Player
After auditioning with hundreds of professional musicians and actors through Los Angeles, Joe was selected by WFE Director, Francis Lawrence, to be featured as the Tuba Player in the Benzini Brothers Circus Big Top Band. He, along with 8 other featured musicians and actors, make up the Big Top Band, and shoot their scenes throughout June and July. After several fittings with an award winning wardrobe team, cameras started rolling on a chilly May evening in the hills of Lake Piru. “We’ve done a complicated train sequence, been pulled by massive horses on the Big Top circus band wagon, and just started shooting the spec scenes with an incredible cast of actors, acrobats, circus performers and animals” as of the week of June 15th, with several more scenes to go Joe adds: “I couldn’t have picked a better group of guys to work with myself–each one is extraordinary in their own way, and its so cool to spend 12 or 13 hours on set with such an awesome team.” Thanks Joe!

Tommy Lukasewicz: Benzini Bros. Circus Roustabout
Tommy attended the Sande Alessi open casting call on April 17th and was cast as one of the Circus Roustabouts. He’s only been in Los Angeles for nine months, but said that his acting career is progressing at a very fast pace. He’s had his costume fitting and has had his hair cut and styled circa 1931. Tommy is very excited to be working on a film directed by Francis Lawrence and along side the fantastic actor Christoph Waltz. Tommy writes,  “I am excited to begin shooting and working with my fellow Benzini Brothers Circus Roustabout family for 2 1/2 months. This film is going to be a huge success and I’m so happy to be a part of that success.” He will be joining  the Roustabouts  on set May 20th. As with the other WFE ‘extras’ we will be staying in touch with Tommy for more news. Check out Tommy’s details  by clicking on his name link above. Thank you Tommy!

William Morse: Circus Band Guitarist/Clarinet
William was invited to audition for Director Francis Lawrence and as part of the audition he had to play an instrument, his being the guitar. He said he chose an old blues/jazz piece that he wrote and dressed in period style clothes which included a vest and tie and had his hair styled appropriately for the 1930’s. His impressive audition won him the part of the Circus Band guitarist. William will also have some lines in the film and is expected to be on-set for about three weeks. He’s been fitted for his three costume changes and has had his hair cut this week as well, says it looks great! William will be joining Glen McDougal and Cody Wood as Circus Band musicians. Fun Fact: William has worked with David Dustin Kenyon on two other projects… About his participation in Water for Elephants, he says: “Getting to play music while acting is a dream come true for me… I’ve been playing guitar for about 14 years and piano for 20. I’ve been writing music since I was about 15 years old, and hope to get to play some of my own on the film.” William is set to begin filming the first week of June. Like the other great guys, I will be talking to him throughout filming. (*Note: Bill was asked by the producers to play clarinet  instead, much to his dismay) Please check out William’s IMDb page by clicking on his name link above. Thanks William!

Jackie Zane: Lucinda, Benzini Bros. Circus Sideshow
Jackie  has been cast as the beautiful Lucinda, The Benzini Bros. sideshow ‘Fat Lady’.  She has appeared in numerous theatre productions as well as film and television with recent appearances on “Chuck” and “Cold Case” as well as roles on “The Mentalist”  and “Two and a Half Men”. Her first day on set was yesterday, May 27, and she is scheduled to shoot for another 4 to 7 days total. She says that all the people involved are amazing and specifically Jackie says, “The entire cast and crew are so friendly, accessible, and a lot like ‘family’. They really are trying to create that circus family atmosphere and making sure everyone gets treated well!!!
I am so pleased that Jackie has joined my Water for Elephants Extraordinary Extras ‘family’ and I will be staying in touch with her as filming progresses. Please visit Jackie’s website, just click on her name link above, for all of her details. Thank you Jackie! Edited: Jackie wrote a wonderful ‘Set Story’ for the WFE film blog. Here is the link!

Jon Weiss: Benzini Bros. Circus Clown
Jon has spent 27 years with Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He started his career with Ringling as a clown, then became the Human Cannon Ball and then the Circus Host. Jon appeared in the reality TV show The Amazing Race in 2004 and raced around the world with a fellow clown from Ringling, they were team Jon & Al aka “the clowns”, they came in 4th place. He left Ringling in 2007 and joined Circus Vargas as the Host and is currently working on a reality show based on his life with the circus. So how did Jon become involved with WFE? He writes, “Being from the circus I read the book Water for Elephants when it first came out and I along with America fell in love with the story! Circus Vargas only travels in the state of California so it allowed me to audition and become apart of the movie Water For Elephants. I was thrilled when I got the news I would be one of the six clowns in the movie. It meant so much to me, not only because it was a fantastic bestselling book but there hasn’t been a movie made around a circus since the movie “The Greatest Show on Earth” in 1952, directed by Cecil B DeMille! I am so honored to be part of Francis Lawrence vision and to add Benzini Circus to my circus resume!! The clowns are scheduled to have about 16 days of shooting, we will be filmed both in and out of make-up which is so cool. Our wardrobe from that time period is awesome. I am so pleased that Jon contacted me and wanted to be a part of my film blog. You can follow Jon on his Twitter, just click his name link above. Thanks Jon! Edited: Jon wrote a fantastic ‘Set Story’ for the WFE film blog. Here is the link!

Kelly Erickson: Benzini Bros. Circus Sideshow Tattooed Lady
Kelly will be playing the Tattooed Lady in Water for Elephants. She is a hairstylist by trade and WFE is her first filming experience, as she is new to the film industry. Kelly is also new to the LA area, having moved up from San Diego, CA about eight months ago. She heard about the WFE casting call for a Tattooed Lady from one of her friends, having nothing to lose, she decided to go to the audition and give it a try. Kelly writes: “I’ve only filmed one day so far, and it was by far one of the most amazing experiences ever. Everyone was really nice, and they are all truly amazing people.”
Kelly is one lucky lady and she had the winning combination that WFE production was looking for with her ‘vintage ink’ and her 1930’s Kewpie Doll sweet face. She is due back on set June 11th. You can follow Kelly on Twitter, just click on her name link above. Thank you Kelly!


Published on April 29, 2010 at 7:51 pm  Comments (25)  

25 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. hey Jon even though I know you for 30 years I dont believe I have your autograph… LOL so please next time you guys come back to NY can I please have it..??? xxoo

  2. Love your site. Just a plug for my son. Patrick Donahue is one of the extras-roustabouts-. He loves the movie and Naturally I think he’s handsome as can be. He’s two pictures below you guys (J-lo 9) with a girl with a white shirt standing in front of him. Check him out. Thanks much

  3. Best cast of extras in the world! :)

  4. can’t tell you how much I enjoy this site not gossipy junk, just good stuff the pix are great, and really like that you have introduced us to the extras–really loved the first story about Rob meeting Rosie.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to do this

  5. Finally got my call to work background on WFE. I start on the 22nd. Got my wardrobe and HAIRCUT 1930-s style. What we do to earn a buck.
    Looking forward to being on set. Ran into Reese at the fitting. She is amazing…….

  6. Clowns had a lot of fun filming last night with Jacob! Francis and the crew got in on the fun, it was a good time!

  7. Thank you for adding me to your blog. :)

  8. Kelly looks awesome. She’s going to be a fantastic, cute, tattooed lady! Can’t wait to see her on the big screen.

  9. John Weiss is a great clown. Excellent choice.

  10. Thank you so much for adding me on to your blog!

  11. I am honored and flattered to be included on here.
    Every actor and crew member on this set is amazing!
    Thank you for such an overwhelmingly warm response!

    • Thank you, Jackie, for allowing me to feature you on my blog, you’re amazing!

  12. Jackie: way to go! I am so proud of you and so thankful you came into my life! You are so good at what you do and always put your heart and soul in everthing.

    Keep up the good work!

    Uncle Gary

  13. Everyone looks absolutely fantastic! This movie is going to rock in every possible way. :o)

  14. So excited for all of you.I have had people actually tell me “I won’t do background”, all the while they are waiting for that perfect role to come along while “extra’s” are the ones involved in upcoming movies and having a great time. We have met the most amazing people on set and my daughter has enjoyed the experience of doing background work.

    Congrats to you all for getting to bring this amazing story to the big screen!!

    I read this book when it first came out and fell in love with the story. Was excited beyond words when I found out it was going to be made into a movie.

  15. I am so happy for all of you’s, and ridiculously jealous. Embrace and enjoy every moment :)

  16. I am so excited for this movie, and the cast looks wonderful! The book was amazing, and I’m looking forward to an amazing film as well. Enjoy your experience, and best of luck to you all!

  17. There you go Kevin, I always believed in you. Your dreams are awesome and they are coming true. I can’t wait for the movie. This is so cool.

    • Thanks Kim, I can’t wait for the movie either!
      I feel really good about this film. BLOCKBUSTER!

  18. You are an Inspiration to alot of us is San Diego..!!..Much love and respect to you..Mitch

    • Thank you Mitch. You are one of my role models.

  19. Kevin Hawley you are looking really hot! I am very happy for you… I wish you the best! You are a very an amazing person!

    • Thank you Rachel. That means alot to me.
      Your the best.

  20. YES! The background actors finally get some well deserved recognition. Thank you K.

    • You all deserve it, so you’re welcome!

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