I’ve been working as an extra for a long time here in Korea. I’ve done numerous dramas and projects, ranging from The King to Hearts to random cable shows that I still have no idea what they were. The typical experience involves a couple of hours on or around the set doing absolutely nothing and wondering why you were called in so early, followed by a couple of hours of walking back and forth behind or in front of the main actors/ eating beside the main actors/ sleeping near the main actors, etc.
In all that time, when I’ve been told I’m going to be doing background acting, I had never once received a line until the other week while filming “Missing You”/보고싶다~!
Usually when doing background acting, the name of the game is keeping yourself amused during long periods of waiting and, when given stage direction, to infuse your given character with as rich of an inner life as possible. Most extras don’t bother with the second part of that sentence, but I certainly do! Every time I’m an extra, I enjoy giving myself an amazing background story – something to really draw from.
For instance, during the filming of 보고싶다 we were at a fashion show, so I chose to be a girl originally from France, Marie. My father had been a baker, and my mother a failed tailor. My mother pushed me towards fashion, as she was haunted by her own personal demons and wanted to succede vicariously through her daughter. I then also failed and ended up as mere event staff at fashion shows. As Marie, I took comfort in the fact that I did my work well, and without me, the show could not go on. My American accent was a result of an addiction to American television, which I picked up from my father. During one take, I really hit the crossing spot on, and my purposeful, harried rush past the stage was noted by someone from production who told me a did a good job. Really, that’s about as good as it gets being an extra. Someone noticing that you’re actually doing your job. Hahahaha *cries*.
Or, at least, I thought that was as good as it gets until while filming 보고싶다, at a point past midnight, we were filming the last scene of the day and I got what is equivalent to finding the holy grail in the background acting world: I got a line! It was a scene that involved a fight between the main actress윤은혜 and some other girl. Of course, fight scenes always take a long time to film because they necessitate shots taken from so many different camera angles. As a result, the last scene took like 4 or so hours to film. And we were all tired and sick of having clothes thrown at us by one of the actresses. However, when my chance came, I took it and I jumped in with a line! “Joy, did you lose something?” I think that’s what I said. I haven’t watched it yet. My friend sent me a screenshot. At any rate, I said my line and so it is in perpetuity! Yay!
Unfortunately, my appearances as a background actress up until that point had all involved around 2 seconds of screen time, so I decided to be lazy that day and not bother with really combing my hair or putting on much make up. It’s like Murphy’s Law or something that when you’re least prepared, you’ll actually get an opportunity to do something. Maybe I should start not preparing and putting in less effort to everything. It seems to go better when I live life on the improvised edge, kekeke.