The background actor

    Spotlight 6/2024
    Filmdreh mit Gefängnisinsasse und Polizist
    © Martin Haake

    In each issue of Spotlight, we present interesting lives from around the English-speaking world. This time, we talk to Simon March, who works as an extraStatist(in)​extra, or background actor, in TV dramas.​

    Can anyone be an extra?

    Yes. You don’t need any acting talent. Your job is to be in the background and look normal. But if you have a special skill, they might use it. My wife’s a hairdresser and she’s done a few scenes in salons.​

    Do you have costumes, hair and make-up?

    You often wear your own clothes. They tell you what to wear, or they might ask for a beard or long hair. Costumes and uniforms are more fun. I’ve been a soldier, a priest, a fireman, a prison officer and a passenger on a train with Hercule Poirot.​

    Is it hard work?

    No, but the days are long. There’s a lot of waiting around.​

    Have you met lots of famous actors?

    I’ve seen a lot of actors, but we’re not allowed to speak to them. We know one’s placewissen, wo man hingehört​know our place!​

    Is it a good way to get into acting as a career?

    I don’t think so. Some extras want to be real actors. They want a line – line of dialogueDialogzeilea line of dialogue – but it’s not realistic to jump from extra to movie star.​

    Do you look at the extras when you’re watching TV?

    Always. If a waiter or a barman doesn’t speak, I think, “No lines? He’s an extra!”​

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