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Dan Murphy

The Total Man Package: On The Set of Lonelyland
by Dan Murphy

January 2002

I am no longer taking over the movie scene. I have TAKEN over the movie scene. I had another pivotal extra role in the movie "LONELYLAND." Here is how the Director Steve Collins sold me on the part. He sent me the email below.

Dan,

Would you be interested in being a background actor in a scene we're shooting on October 22nd? The scene is at night, at a Cafeteria in Downtown Austin, probably from 7:00-1Am.

Sadly, no pay, but food and good company provided (also, lots of waiting around) We'd love to have you.

He got my asking price right – a free meal – and I thought it would be fun, so I decided to do it. I was right. It was a lot of fun. Steve was also right. Good company was provided. Furthermore, Steve and his crew ran everything very professionally. Steve's Production Manager, Brenden, called me twice to confirm the times and location. They were organized well and everything ran smoothly. In addition, the production's cordial attitude was a plus.

The synopsis for LONELYLAND is:

In a world full of lonely hearts and tables for one, two lost souls find each other in a cafeteria and
battle their anxieties to fall in love.

It sounds pretty funny and it was. I didn't even know what I was going to be doing. Then, I found out I was going to be playing a dork-like (literally, no joke) background character in the cafeteria. Yeah, I know. Me playing a dork is even more of stretch than me playing a 35 (I'm almost 34) year old Race Track Official in VINCE DEL RIO, but I am the consummate professional remember. So I decided I would try my best to be a Background Dork. After sitting around for about 30 minutes, Steve, the Director, told me they were ready to use me and began to grab dork clothes off the rack. Steve left and I asked this girl where they got these clothes, Goodwill? She said Steve probably wears this stuff. When I returned in my geek attire, it wasn't working. I just looked too cool. Yeah, I know you think I am just crowing again, but even Steve said I looked too cool. It's just against my nature to look like a PUTZ. So, Steve picked out some more clothes for me to try on and fortunately they worked. I looked like PAT from Saturday Night Live without the glasses. Sty'lin and Profi'lin Wooooo!!!

I wasn't the only one dressed like a complete Nerd. There were Nerds everywhere. I haven't seen this many Nerds since my band practice days. I told one girl named Liberty that she looked like Vicki Lawrence's character "Mama" from Mama's Family. Another girl looked like Dana Carvey as The Church Lady.

It was now time for my big scene sitting alone in the cafeteria with a plate of Jell-O. They had some big, hot movie lights set up that looked like something MGM used to light movies in the 40's. They also had some screens set up for lighting purposes (I think). I was seated next to a guy named Wayne. He looked like Steve Urkel from the show Family Matters. Maybe it WAS Urkel. I haven't seen that guy in anything lately. There was another Geekette sitting in front of me. The first direction Steve gave me was to stare into space for a few seconds then pretend to eat my food.

Well, it wasn't working. Either I wasn't doing it right or Steve didn't like the way it looked. So, Steve told me to just play with the Jell-O and look really apathetic. To get into character I thought about my student loan debt. This time it worked out. Steve and the crew shot this scene about 3 or 4 times. Then they said all they had to do was check the gate on the camera for hair and if it was clear they would let us go. I told the Urkel look-alike they needed to check the hair in our Jell-O instead. It could have been worse. The Mama's Family girl said the stuff she had to eat looked like it belonged in a baby's diaper. They finished checking the gate, thanked us, and said we could go.

I was just about out of my Revenge of The Nerds outfit when I was called back to the set. I got back into my getup and returned to the cafeteria. About a minute later I heard Steve saying, "Cut. That was perfect." I never even heard him say action and it was perfect. I guess I'm just a natural.

If you haven't figured it out, I am making my way to becoming a major B movie actor. It won't be long now until you see me on some Rhonda Shear type USA Up All Night B movie marathon. So you better start sucking up to me now while you still have a chance. Don't wait until you're sitting around the house watching the Rated R "Women In Prison VI" and bragging to all your friends that you know the guy (Me) playing the deranged prison guard. They are just not going to believe it. Especially when I don't return your calls and all my people will tell you is that I am on location working on "Women In Prison VII." Just start worshipping me now before the E True Hollywood Story and thus avoid all the pain of me pretending like you don't exist. It will better for you and me.

The whole ordeal was lots of fun. It was hard not to crack up during filming. By the way, Steve said there was no pay, but there was for me. With all these Pencil Necks around I just had to be a Bully. I couldn't resist. I strong-armed some lunch money out of the Urkel look-alike. If Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter had been there I would have taken his lunch money and made him type this column homework for me.

No, I didn't really bully anybody. I would have, but with my luck one of the Geeks would have been like that Karate Kid wuss and kicked my butt in front of everyone. That would have been really degrading.

Talk to you next month. Take Care!!!

Dan Murphy
The Total Man Package!!!!! Wooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

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