Just over a year ago, I found myself sitting next to a big red curtain, behind which stood noted French actress Marion Cotillard.
Marion was there because, just like me, she had been asked to take part in a $125m Hollywood blockbuster – although they paid her, while they said they could not pay me because it had not been budgeted into the 125 million dollars.
Some would call mine a minor role. Jealous loser haters, for example. But you and I know my role that day would be one of subtle but vital importance. I would secretly appear in a pivotal final scene, as a man wearing a hood, standing and clapping as another man said something – in the soon to be critically acclaimed Assassin’s Creed movie (“Preposterous” – The Guardian).
I was there because I play a character in the Assassin’s Creed video games, and the producers thought it might be a nice nod to those, but this would not, of course, be my first film role. I played Man In Bar at Scene Near End Of Film in Yes Man, and I also played Radio Announcer in Cockneys Vs Zombies, the cult Richard Briers vehicle.
But this? This would be my first true action film role.
And let’s not have any fake modesty here: I nailed it. I stood, I clapped, I let the other man say the things he said. Plus I stayed true to my word, and told absolutely nobody about my involvement in Assassin’s Creed (“Semi-coherent” – Variety), which I think speaks to my integrity as an actor.
“Just imagine,” I thought, cheekily, as I left the set. “I bet when it comes out lots of my friends spot me and say, ‘What are you doing in that film? You never said you were in that film!’” And it would go further. “People who enjoy the video games will spot me in the film and say, ‘Hey, I enjoy the video games and I spotted you in the film!’”
It will be brilliant.
And then, to much fanfare, the film comes out.
It has been out, in fact, a month.
And nobody is yet to say a word.
Not one person has said, “I saw you in that film.” Not one. There has been not a tweet. Not an email! Not a furtive glance or a knowing wink!
They must be jealous of the circles I now move in! Jealous loser haters!
But this lack of feedback suddenly strikes me as a bus shoots by with an Assassin’s Creed poster on it.
“That’s been out a month and nobody’s said a bloody word!” I tell my wife, nudging her, the enormity of this only growing as I think about it. “That’s a bit weird, right? You’d think if someone was in a film, other people would say, ‘You’re in a film.’”
I bet that’s what happens to other movie stars. A constant burble of ‘you’re in a film’ left in their wake as they wander through a crowd. So why is muggins here the only movie star who gets absolutely zero feedback from his public?
Though I don’t consider myself a movie star, per se. More a movie actor.
And I’m not asking for all the Assassin’s Creed reviews to be about me (“Confusing” – Empire). Nor am I saying it should have been called Danny Wallace’s Assassin’s Creed or some such. I’m just saying a little appreciation for my two days of unpaid filming is the least I can expect, especially when it’s in the name of art, of bringing joy
to the people (“Pretentious” – Washington Post).
“They might have cut you out,” says my wife.
“You’re living in a dream world, you mad old bat,” I spit, hands on hips. “There’s no way.”
There’s no way. There’s no way they’d do that. Why would they? All I had to do was stand and clap. Why would they cut that out? Did I stand wrong? Do I not know how to clap? That said, how important was it to show a man standing and clapping?
Cut me out? Cut ME out?
The frustrating thing is, there is no way of checking.
“Wait!” I say. “I could go and see the film and check for myself!”
I will have to be very careful, of course. Perhaps wear a disguise. You can’t have movie stars – actors – going to see their own films. How would that look? No, if I’m to check my presence in this film, it is important I blend in with the norms. I must do what they do. Buy popcorn, hold tickets, etc. Maybe I will study them before I go to the cinema, in order to take on my greatest role to date: everyday civilian!
“It’s two hours long!” I say, staring at my phone.
“When’s your scene?” asks my wife.
“Right at the end!” I say.
“You’ve got to go,” she says, though I notice that it’s interesting she doesn’t say, “We’ve got to go.” I appreciate that about my wife. She is giving me my space, which is how I hone my craft as an actor.
I make a decision.
Tomorrow, I will go to the pictures.
And I will find out once and for all why the world is so keen to suppress my movie career.
To be continued…