December 13, 2006

A Peter Boyle Story

Many on the blogosphere are noting the passing of Peter Boyle, and this blog will do it with a difference - I was actually fortunate enough to work with him.

While putting myself through school, one of the ways I earned extra money was as an extra. Most of the movies I did, I was on the cutting room floor, but I had a few notable scenes in Midnight Run and Conspiracy of Love. But my favorite movie shoot was Red Heat, with a scene (which isn't in the film) shot at a Chicago White Sox game.

I had my "character" lined up - I was wearing my Gary Fencik jersey, and sat through a game where the White Sox played the Seattle Seahawks. As the game began, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Walter Hill (the director) and Jim Belushi went to throw the first pitches.

Walter Hill - goes past the first baseman, but an outfielder catches it.

Schwarzenegger - throws it limply, it rolls to into the first baseman's glove.

Jim Belushi - hurls it into the outfield; one of the outfielders had to scramble to get it.

At the time, we took our baseball almost as seriously as St. Louis did.

After the game, it was time to shoot the scene - Peter Boyle and an associate (I think he played Belushi's boss) were giving away a key piece of a White Sox game. The scene ended with Boyle shouting, in frustration, "What's the use of living in a town where they can't play baseball?"

As a twenty-something, it was the coolest thing a movie geek could experience - behind "behind the scenes". Having Walter Hill direct me to chug a beer when the "ball" was missed.

After the scene was shot, and was wrapped, several of my fellow extras began piling out - nothing major; as a movie extra, you're informed not to speak with the stars. As Mr. Boyle turned around, looking at the leaving crowd, I politely extended my hand and said, "It was a pleasure working with you, Mr. Boyle."

He smiled sweetly, and gave me a firm handshake. With that, I headed home.

Sure, the scene ended up on the cutting room floor, but sometimes...the experience is worth it.

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