Monday, June 21, 2004

They want to be in pictures

'Elizabethtown' has its pick of local extras

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - The chance to appear for a fleeting moment in a movie to be filmed in Kentucky was enough to create long lines of auditioners.

As many as 1,300 people showed up Saturday at a hotel in hopes of landing roles as paid extras in Elizabethtown, the new movie by writer and director Cameron Crowe. The film will be shot in Lexington, Versailles and Elizabethtown.

For some in the crowd, it was their first attempt at being in a movie. Others had roles in Seabiscuit, which filmed in central Kentucky in fall 2002.

"I wouldn't take anything for the experience I had with Seabiscuit," said David Hereford, 70, who was on screen as one of War Admiral owner Samuel Riddle's cronies.

Rain and cold weather of that November filming had Hereford saying, "never again," but word that Elizabethtown casting directors were looking for older actors and the chance to be in another movie brought him back out.

Most auditioners Saturday didn't know a whole lot about the movie.

According to information on the Internet Movie Database, Elizabethtown centers on Drew Baylor, a guy whose life in Oregon falls apart, leaving him on the verge of suicide. But he finds new purpose in life with Claire Colburn, a flight attendant he meets traveling home to Kentucky for his father's funeral.

Lord of the Rings and Troy star Orlando Bloom will play Drew, and Spider-Man star Kirsten Dunst is Claire.

Kentucky Film Office Director M. Todd Cassidy said he's probably the only person in Kentucky to have read the script.

"It puts Kentucky in a very positive light," he said.

The filming will be the culmination of a year's work by the film office.

"Though it's set in Kentucky, they could have filmed it anywhere," he said. "So we're very happy they chose to come here."

Saturday's casting call and another one on June 12 in Louisville, which attracted 3,500 to 4,000 people, were successes, Cassidy said.

No song and dance were required. Prospective extras filled out information cards and turned them in with a photograph to production officials.

The range of acting experience among applicants went from none to considerable, such as former Actors Guild of Lexington artistic director Deb Shoss.

"I couldn't resist this," Shoss said. "I'm retired. I have the time."

Shoss said one thing that attracted her was an appreciation for Crowe's work.

His films include Almost Famous (2000), Jerry Maguire (1996), Singles (1992) and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982).

Crowe's father, James A. Crowe, grew up in Stanton and attended Eastern Kentucky University before moving to Southern California.

Filming will begin next month. Unlike Seabiscuit, no scenes will require thousands of extras. In fact, Cassidy said the public will be kept far away from the locations to avoid any disruptions.

"Those who have the best possibility to watch the filming," he said, "will be those who support the project by being extras."

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