We love movie stars. We watch everything they make. We buy over-sized pictures of them. OK, we used to buy over-sized pictures of them. We even bother them to take a picture with us while they’re eating lunch with their families or shopping for patio chairs at Target. They are our favorite thing. But what about the actors who aren’t stars, the background music, the furniture, the extras. We ignore them because we’re supposed to; they make it so easy. But there are some extras who make it impossible to ignore. Whatever they’re doing catches our eye. We rewind the scene thinking, “I think I just saw something.” Sometimes what we see is magical.
Some extras have become stars. Some have become legends. Sometimes it’s us who make mistakes, confusing their seemingly out of place actions as something else. Remember that guy in Star Trek “The Lights of Zetar,” the crewmember that looked like he was pretending to turn something, totally looking like he was just turning thin air? That’s the kind of thing that catches our attention and makes this list of extras who stole the show. Well, in the case of Star Trek, that guy was actually turning a transparent plastic handle, but serves them right for choosing a see-through item for a television show.
Make no mistake though, the actual members of this list deserve to be here. They each did something that took the focus off of the main action. Basically, they did exactly what an extra should not do. Most of the time when this happens on set, they retake the shot and someone gets scolded, shunned or fired, but this list is proof that editors make mistakes, and when they do they’re hilarious. Maybe they thought no one would notice or maybe they never noticed it themselves. Maybe they felt it wasn’t worth it to reshoot the scene without the numbskull ruining the shot, or maybe they thought it added to the scene. In most cases, it did add to it. Maybe too much. In most cases these extras were amazing. So let’s check them out, the 15 most ridiculous movie extras ever.
15. Sweeping The Air – Quantum of Solace
A dock can be a dirty place. All that dust and dirt needs to be swept away from the hardworking dockworkers. The filmmakers of Quantum of Solace knew this, so they did their due diligence and hired a few extras to sweep away in the background. There was one of these sweepers who went above and beyond, sweeping not only the ground, but the air too. When the camera glimpses over James Bond’s shoulder, we catch a shot of this go-getter pushing his broom through the air about a foot off the ground. If you blink you might miss it, but once you see it you’ll never forget it.
14. Never Stop Running – 10 Things I Hate About You
After the coach is struck by an arrow on the soccer field, they send one of the students running to get help. Unfortunately, they chose the least athletic extra for the task. First of all, her running is little quicker than a brisk walk, hardly the effort we want to see when someone’s been skewered like a wild boar. And second, she runs to a point that she feels is far enough, a point she thinks is off camera, and then stops looking back to see how well she did, probably expecting cheers and screams of “bravo.” As she turns, however, she notices she’s directly in line with the camera. It had been panning with her the entire time and caught the entire act.
13. Horse Kick – The Last Samurai
Ahh, the amazing horse kick in The Last Samurai, truly a thing of beauty. When everyone’s most-likable samurai, Tom Cruise, rides in on horseback behind his allied forces, a collection of samurai soldiers, his horse has something special planned for one of the extras standing by. As Tommy Boy pulls the reins up, his horse, ever so sneakily, kicks an extra right in the groin. Shaken but not stirred, the extra stumbles but doesn’t fall, keeping his composure. In what surely resulted in internal bleeding, the lightning fast horse kick is almost undetectable by the naked eye and looks brutally painful. Be on your guard during your next watch. You won’t want to miss this one.
12. Frozen Children – Everything Must Go
In a scene in Everything Must Go, something magical happens on set. As Laura Dern tells Will Ferrell all about this totally fake commercial that she shot with Brad Pitt, her children are in the front yard playing at a table-thingy. Yeah, it’s a table. As the camera switches off the children to just show Dern and Farrell, everything is as it should be. However, when the camera goes back to showing the children in the scene again, something has gone horribly wrong. They aren’t moving. In the time between shots, the children had been frozen as if by an Immobolus spell cast by Harry Potter himself. I looked that one up.
11. Sketchy Cat – You Only Live Twice
Ernst Stavro Blofeld is one of, if not the, most recognizable villain in the James Bond franchise. Blofeld’s famous white Persian cat, though, is every bit the star that Blofeld is. While some might have issues with the title of “extra,” the cat usually does very little to upstage its companion, until one night. Filming a scene in You Only Live Twice in which an explosion goes off, this little kitten decides that it’s time to mix it up. Instead of sitting ever so coolly in the arms of Blofeld, the cat freaks right out, twisting and turning to break free of its master’s clutches. Blofeld will have none of it, pinning the cat in his arms, leaving the two struggling for supremacy as they walk off camera.
10. Doggy-Paddling – Mr. Nanny
In Mr. Nanny, Hollywood Hulk Hogan himself was upstaged on camera. You might be thinking, who in all the world could outshine our Mr. America, Sterling Golden, Hulkamania, the one and only Thunder Lips? But it’s true. As Hogan roars down the strip on his hog with his handlebar mustache flapping ever so swiftly in the wind, something behind him beside the water moves. It’s a man. It’s a man holding a dog. It’s a man that is throwing his dog into the water. Well, no one knows who this extra is, or what it took to get him to such a point in his life, but we are captivated. Is this animal abuse? Is this teaching a dog to swim? Back to the Hulkster. Ahh, look at that glorious stache. What a specimen.
9. Tired Of Fighting – Braveheart
The battle was over, the dead that outnumbered the living lay huddled on the ground. As the stars walk amongst them, talking about God knows what, we see a small skirmish still ongoing in the background. Yes, two soldiers from different sides still going at it blow for blow, incapable of giving in. But these two soldiers aren’t just any soldiers. No. They’re the laziest, softest hitting, most tired soldiers we’ve ever encountered. Men so weak, feeble or uninterested that each of their blows is lazier than the next. We wonder who will be first to fall. Then, with no warning, they both collapse. Finally, as if someone reminded them that the staged fight ended seven minutes ago, the two fall down, slain by each other.
8. The Happiest Shark Attack – Jaws
When everyone on the beach thinks that a child has just been killed, Police Chief Brody screams for everyone to get out of the water. Some brave souls start running in, while most run out of the water in shock and terror. Out of the ones heroically running toward the child, attempting to save his life, focused on the task at hand, there is an outlier. One man with a powerful mustache and a white hat runs towards to action smiling from ear to ear. He was lovin’ it, Mcd’s style. This was his moment and, as he playfully galloped into and through the shallows, he could not contain his elation.
7. Chin Music – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
While the creepy candy man from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory sings his candy man song to the neighborhood children, he packs something extra special for one of his guests. Right before he invites them all behind the counter, which is a weird sequence of events, he lifts up the countertop gate and smashes one little girl in the chin. Unphased by crippling uppercut by furniture, the little girl soldiers on through the doorway, not letting a shattered chin stop her from getting some free candy. You can actually see in the moment that the guy feels some resistance to him raising the countertop, so he powers through just leveling the little one’s face.
6. Force Kick – Return of the Jedi
In one of the more memorable editing and choreography gaffs, Luke Skywalker shows off his force skills by kicking an extra in the face with it. Well, it must have been with the force because his actual foot was nowhere near this extra’s actual face. The extra’s reaction time was just about as bad as it could be, too. It isn’t really until Luke has completely dropped his leg before the guy reacts to the kick. There’s a certain magic to the whole thing because of how awful it looks. This poor extra even falls to his death because of this phantom kick—the character played by the extra, not the guy himself—quite possibly the worst way to die, just giving up really.
5. A Simple Gunshot Premonition – North by Northwest
In Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, an altercation breaks out at the Mount Rushmore visitor center between Kaplan (Cary Grant) and Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint). When Kaplan grabs Kendall’s arm a small boy in the background senses danger, spidey-sense style. With his head turned slightly, keeping the action in his peripherals, he appears to know something the rest of the people in the room don’t. Or actually everyone else is acting but this kid forgot where he was completely. All of a sudden, he plugs his ears for no apparent reason. Then, as if it were on command, Kendall pulls out a gun. Now we understand. This boy is a wizard. When the shot goes off, the boy’s ears are protected from the sound. While everyone else is startled, he just chills and eats his pb&j.
4. Funniest Face Kick – Enter The Dragon
When you fight with Bruce Lee there’s a good chance you’re gonna get kicked in the face. If you’re watching someone fight Bruce Lee, there’s a good chance you’re gonna see someone get kicked in the face. That’s what we have here. An extra, waiting and expecting to see someone’s face getting kicked got exactly what they wanted, and they were not afraid to show their enjoyment. As Lee goes from challenger to challenger, face-kicking each and every one of them suckers, an onlooker preps for his moment. When Lee gives one a challenger a final boot to the lips, the fellow in the background begins to laugh a deep-bellied, full-toothed laugh.
3. Tall Stormtrooper – Star Wars: A New Hope
As three Stormtroopers pile in through a doorway in Star Wars: A New Hope, one of them bonks his head on the door, clearly unaware of his surroundings. Since this little nugget of reality stole the show for many Star Wars fans, George Lucas went back to try and give it some history, something for Star Wars diehards to chew on while they wait for their movie-quality lightsabre to charge. Apparently, since Jango Fett, in Stars Wars: Attack of the Clones, banged his head on his ship’s door, it would make sense that his clones, the early Stormtroopers would also bang their heads from time to time. While it doesn’t quite match up chronologically, the little backstory is a cool attempt by Lucas to make fun of himself and the bone-headed extra.
2. It’s A Celebration – Teen Wolf
The man, the legend. Or is it now the woman, the legend? The legend, either way. For many years, fans of the amazing Teen Wolf film were tickled pink with the insider knowledge of the greatest extra to ever grace the silver screen. After Michael J. Fox won the basketball game for the good guys, and after he had finished wrapping his legs around his father’s waist and being twirled around, and after he had given his gal a smooch, our attentions have always been drawn to the upper left-hand side of the screen. There, amidst the cheering extras, was one who was special, the chosen one. This female extra, long thought to be a man, chose a different cheering option. Instead of just clapping like the others, fully dressed, as is tradition, this one decided pants wide open was a better way to go. Was it intentional? Did this extra know their barn door had flown open? Perhaps we’ll never know. Perhaps the mystery is more exciting than the truth.
1. Come Hither My Love – Back to the Future III
Some say he was prophesied to lead all stray extras into the promised land. We know his name, the icon they call Daniel Evans, but he will forever be known as Verne, the audience whisperer. Just when you thought Back to the Future III and the entire franchise was ending, a new journey was set to begin. As Doc screams in Jennifer’s (Elisabeth Shue) face as he so often does when he talks, his youngest son, Verne, beckons the camera and the audience to him. As our eyes and our imaginations heed his call, we quickly learn where he wants us to go, where he wants us to look. Why, it’s his special place, a shocking twist. We resist at first, but his pull is magnetic. It might be that this little creep just has to pee, or maybe he is just having a laugh. Whatever it is, Verne, Daniel Evans, became a legend on that day, and we became the disciples that must share his story.