The term “movie extra” holds many different connotations for many different people; the term itself is disliked by many who work in the industry, who prefer to use the term “background artist”, to refer to those cast members whose job it is to fill out a scene, or if they’re lucky, become a “featured extra” and maybe get a few lines of dialogue. By their nature, they typically exist to set the scene or, if they’re lucky enough to be given dialogue, set up the more famous actor opposite them for a dramatic delivery or humourous quip.
These 9 extras, supporting day-players or background artists – whatever you want to call them – all demonstrated such a strong presence in anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 minutes of screen time, that they made a distinct impression upon audiences. As such, one has to wonder why their careers never blew up, because there’s some serious talent lurking in the wings. Here are 9 amazing movie extras who should have become “real” actors…
9. Estelle Reiner – “I’ll Have What She’s Having” Woman In When Harry Met Sally
The Role: An older female customer in the diner when Sally (Meg Ryan) proves to Harry (Billy Crystal) that she has the talent of impressively faking an orgasm. After witnessing Sally’s display, she quips, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Why It’s Amazing: It’s an immortal line – apparently conceived by Crystal – that’s delivered with superb aplomb by director Rob Reiner’s mother, Estelle. The timing and sternness of the delivery has made it a classic comic zinger that has endured ever since.
What Happened?: Estelle had previously had minor roles in a few films, but this is the only one for which she is remembered. Rather than acting, Reiner was better known as the family matriarch and as a cabaret singer, and passed away at the age of 94 in 2008.
This article was first posted on July 3, 2013