Filming Rock That Body with Scarlett Johansson
2 weeks ago I was cast in a background role on HBO’s The Deuce. I had never done any work in film, let alone stepped on a film set. However, this week was different. I was fortunate enough to be cast in another background role, but this time not for The Deuce… not for HBO… not for a TV show. This time I was asked to step foot on a movie set for “Rock That Body” starring Scarlett Johansson (who is probably most famously cast as Black Widow in Marvel’s “The Avengers”), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), Zoe Kravits (you may know her from “X-Men: First Class”), Jillian Bell (“22 Jump Street”, “The Night Before”) and Ilana Glazer (TV’s “Broad City” as well as collaborating with Jillian Bell on “The Night Before”). The night prior to the first day of shooting, I got a call from a representative from Grant Wilfley Casting, an agency for background talent for many film productions and TV shows in New York.
Let’s Do This
The film is called “Rock That Body”. About two weeks before their first day of shooting, which occurred this past August 17th, I got an email from GWC asking me to come in. I got a background part! Once I got on set, myself and another actress were told to do a cross, and I counted was 18 times, which to you might not sound like a lot, but through a crowd of 100 other background actors while being filmed, it can become somewhat fatiguing after so many repetitions. And then Scarlett Johansson and I had to cross paths with each other, and here come the nerves. But I wasn’t nervous because of her. I mean, I am a huge fan of her work in the Marvel film franchise, and love her approach to acting.
Acting Nerves & the Background Role
I was nervous because Scarlett had to make this cross to another part of the set in one direction and I had to cross in the other direction, which meant switching places with her in front of the camera as I crossed. The set suddenly became intimidating. I became really nervous with tripping over any equipment or people that could have been in the way. The thing is, I’ve never been assigned a character role as a background actor; I don’t think that happens in the industry. You just have to come up with a character of your own and let it develop naturally as you feed off the energy of each person in the room. Whether that was the principal actors, background actors or even the sound engineer hovering a mic over our heads.
Be Aware of the Set and Yourself
You must do this while you also must worry about not getting in the way of the shot or upstaging one of the actors who is being filmed. I did what I do onstage, I served my purpose in the scene, pursued my objectives with action and did not attempt to distract or divert from that agenda. I’ve observed so many extras and background talent try to move in front of the camera, but I don’t understand it. We were not there to individually perform. Each person involved in the shoot that day, whether they had main roles or background actors or camera men, whether they had lines or were told to stand still for 30 minutes, in front or behind the camera, each person who was working on “Rock That Body” whether they realized it or not, were there for a reason: to breathe life into the circumstances of the scene, without ego.
Remember, It’s Not About You
I learned that the only way to live this life is to realize that it is not only about you. We need each other. And I can say with certainty I learned so much from the background observing every aspect of the filming of “Rock That Body”. I got to watch the amazing director, Lucia Aniello do her thing behind the scenes and I got to be a part of something that many other people wanted to be a part of. And I didn’t want to let an opportunity like that go to waste.
Aside from those many kind people, there were of course background actors fed up with doing this sort of work, and I don’t blame their attitude. I could see and feel where they were coming from. My feet were killing me as I had stood for almost 13 hours straight. But like when I was on The Deuce, I decided and chose to keep being me and keep smiling. I am grateful, and want to encourage you to be grateful for every opportunity you are given, and to justly take advantage of that opportunity, because someone somewhere would give anything to be where you are. I love learning and am so excited for what’s next in my story to come. I’ll keep you posted.