Everyone dreams of doing something unique and fun with their lives; Ed Callais, a Clevelander, has quite an interesting side job that affords him an ample amount of screen time: acting as an extra in …
Everyone dreams of doing something unique and fun with their lives; Ed Callais, a Clevelander, has quite an interesting side job that affords him an ample amount of screen time: acting as an extra in movies.
Originally from Cut Off, Louisiana, the 49-year-old moved to Cleveland in 1992. He is the father of two daughters, Eva and Rachel.
Having worked in theater and improvisation his entire life, Callais said he's always loved film. Each year, he acts in the Chattanooga Ballet’s rendition of “The Nutcracker,” as he has for the past 15 years.
“A friend of mine was doing extra work, and asked me why I wasn’t doing this. Being in a movie was on my bucket list, and I had never even considered just how popular Atlanta was to film in,” he said.
Atlanta is so popular as a film and TV production location, in fact, it is often unofficially referred to as “Y’allywood.”
Callais’s first extra experience was kick-started after auditioning for the “seedy pedestrian” role for the film “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.”
“They lined us up, and the director picks who will be what, they call a ‘featured extra,’ which is an extra who gets more screen time,” Callais said. “I was stunned that I’ve been picked as this several times.”
Although the scene was filmed, unfortunately, it was ultimately cut. It was, however included in the "deleted scenes" portion of the film's DVD. Callais said regardless of his scene appearing in the final theatrical version of the film or not, he was ecstatic to own a movie that he is featured in.
“To say that I’m a movie fanatic is an understatement, because I own close to 600 DVDs. I just love it. I love the art, and my two daughters and I, it’s kind of our thing,” he said.
There have been times where Callais’s work schedule would not allow him to go to a set to film his role. This really hit home when he wasn’t able to film extra scenes for two major films, “Baby Driver,” and “Life of the Party.”
Despite these setbacks, he has seen and met numerous actors, such as Ang Lee, John Lithgow and Rebel Wilson.
“They gave me the rules for working with celebrities, like don’t stare, don’t approach them, don’t talk to them unless they talk to you, but several of them will talk to you because while we’re all standing around waiting to film, they are right there with you and shoot the breeze with you!” he said.
For his role in “Pitch Perfect 3,” Callais was chosen as the featured extra. Upon choosing him, the director asked Callais if he would be comfortable with food getting on him for the scene. Obviously, since Rebel Wilson would be throwing the food, it was an easy “yes” for Callais. The scene in question took nearly 35 hours to film.
“This scene wasn’t supposed to be a slapping scene, but it worked better as one, so I told Rebel Wilson to just go for it. I probably got slapped with a piece of bruschetta 30 times,” he said.
From “Pitch Perfect 3,” Callais next went to AMC’s cult-favorite TV show “The Walking Dead,” which was searching for ex-military extras.
“I often get typecast as a villain, cops or military. I went to ‘Walking Dead,’ and everyone near me was holding their gun awkwardly. I’m an Army vet, so if I’m holding a gun, even a fake one, I hold it like you should,” he said. “That may have been why they featured me more.”
For his role in “Walking Dead,” Callais was originally going to be killed with a katana by the character Michonne, played by Danai Gurira; however, due to scheduling conflicts, the scene wasn’t completed. This did not prevent Gurira from filming renditions of the scene, where she whacked Callais multiple times in the back with a wooden sword!
As he adds to his list, he counts his blessings for making so many new friends throughout the process. Movies that have featured Callais include: “Pitch Perfect 3,” “The Walking Dead,” “Den of Thieves” and “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.” He is set to appear in an upcoming Netflix show as well.
“I definitely believe that extras acting can lead to bigger roles. Harrison Ford was a carpenter on a film set before he became a star. I’ve got a buddy in Australia who told me that when I walk into a room, I garner attention. That’s why I get used as a featured extra every time,” Callais said.
Despite not using extras acting as his full-time job, Callais encourages all aspiring actors to go for their dreams and try out for all kinds of roles.
“You’d be surprised what you can do. I’ve got a friend who auditioned to be a zombie for ‘Walking Dead.’ She got the role and had a great time doing it, but she was initially skeptical,” he added. “For aspiring actors, I say do it! What do you have to lose? When you can pick up a DVD you’re in, how cool is that?”
Calls for extras can be found on Facebook or through various websites. Callais follows numerous Facebook pages that post casting calls for extras almost daily.
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