|Austin-Bergstrom International Airport|
My Whiz With Fame
by Roger Kunshick
I did a day on the Sandra Bullock film "Miss Congeniality." I've never seen the movie, but everyone I know who saw the film doesn't remember the scene I was in so I figure it was cut, and as such, my personal interest in seeing it has been severely dampened.
The scene I was in, was filmed out at McNeil High School where they have a large, professional size performance center. The four of us were costumed in some grey pageant polo type shirts that read "Pageant Staff" or something like that and dark pants. They were filming some scenes that day with Sandra Bullock, and Academy Award winner Michael Caine. I heard Benjamin Bratt was there, but I didn't know what he looked like back then so I could have walked right past him and not recognized him. (Sorry, man.)
I spent most of the day waiting around, chatting with my fellow day players, reading the paper, eating the caterer's food, and helping Miss Utah or which ever contestant she was, with her crossword puzzle. (Yes, I know it's rough work but somebody's gotta do it.)
The scene I'm in was part of a sequence that was the involved with the rehearsal for the big beauty pageant climax, where Sandy B's character apparently couldn't dance the pageant's big production number choreography. After being appropriately chastised by the pageant's choreographer, (played by the film's actual choreographer), for her lack of dancing skills, she did a spastic breakdance kind of thing in to show that her bubbly, spunky, FBI agent character could dance and was worthy of claiming the title "Beauty Contestant." Indeed, Ms. Bullock is a talented and lovely woman. (And can probably dance in "real life".)
Like a lot of big name actors, Ms. Bullock was only present during the four or five takes to get the shot. She sort of teleported in and teleported out; She seemed cheerful enough. Michael Caine on the other hand, seemed to be on set a lot that day, socializing the cast and crew over the course of the morning and early afternoon.
I had heard that he was well respected by both the cast and crew of many of the films he's worked on. If you've read his book on acting, he comes across as a fairly down to earth guy given his international star status.
He took lunch with the production's crew. You could tell that the guy who was the head of the film's catering was pleased as punch to have a star of Michael Caine's caliber enjoying his culinary efforts. I watched and listened from our table as the caterer described in detail to Mr. Caine how good the baked Salmon was. (With his highest recommendation.)
And yes, it was great Salmon. When our turn to chow down finally came, I eschewed the standard TexMex and other fare that was available and went straight to the Salmon and veggies. I figured if Mr. Caine liked it, it was probably pretty good stuff, not to mention rather healthy fare as compared to a lot other shoots I've been on.
After lunch I really had to take a leak, so I halled-ass down to one of the theater's men's rooms, which was doing double duty as our dressing room. Apparently great minds think alike, because lo and behold, there was Mr. Caine, micturating like a regular guy. (Maybe the pissario in his trailer was on the fritz?)
I parked myself at a nearby urinal and proceeded to do, and mind, my own business. I spent a penny and joined Mr. Caine at the wash basin. (After all, like Capt'n Carl sez: "A sailor goes from port to port, just anywhere he pleases, but he always remembers to wash his hands so he don't get no diseases." And remember kiddies, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness", etc.)
To my everlasting shock, as he was washing his hands, he suddenly said something like "...Ow's the shoot?" in that classy British voice of his. At least I think he said something like that, I was so in shock that he had actually said something to me, a mere mortal, that I just jabbered like a total idiot saying something like "I'm just a day player and am on set for just today and haven't shot my scene yet and blah-blah-blah..." I imagine that if he had said something to me while I was completing my business I would have been so nervous I would have whizzed all over the place, probably causing an international incident. He was gracious enough to say a few other things about how filming was going that I don't really remember because I was to busy proving to him what a total dumbass and complete moron I was. Then as I was trying to recover my, half, wits, he left, returning to the set shoot the rest of his scene or whatever his schedule was.
And, me? Well, I was still standing there frozen at the wash basin trying to remember what the hell I actually came there to do. Eventually, I came to my senses and wandered back to my fellow day players to nibble on more of the caterer's munchies and otherwise hangout until our "big" scene was finally shot.
On the whole, it was a pretty good day, even though my scene got cut. I mean, I was well fed, got to talk to a lot of cool people, help Ms. Which-ever-state-she-was-the-contestant-from in her slinky outfit with her crosswords, saw Sandra Bullock, and peed next to Michael Caine. Not too shabby. They even paid me money for it.