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Accidental Extras Who Ended Up In The Movie

Jack London famously said,"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." There's probably wisdom in that, but no matter how hard or long you chase inspiration — or whether you chase it with a tiny stick or Thor's hammer – it remains that sometimes the best inspiration happens by accident.

And yeah, some of the worst inspiration too.

The filmmakers of the world have more factors to contend with than the late Jack London did. They can chase inspiration as much as they want with as many hammers as they want, but making a movie means anywhere from dozens to hundreds of people or more have something to do with the production — including people who never intended to, or were never supposed to, have anything to do with it at all.

As proof of how little the plans of actors and directors can mean to the whims of chance, here as some accidental extras who made it into the movie.

We really hope they were playing

You would hope that in a movie whose posters featured a professional wrestling champion in a bright pink tutu  that — whether it's a work of genius, the worst story ever put to film, or anything in between — at the very least there would be something memorable. Odds are that what will be the most well-remembered part of the 1993 film Mr. Nanny, starring pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, is a brief but clear glimpse of a possibly cruel but hopefully playful man-and-dog pair.

During a now-infamous sequence featuring Hulk Hogan driving his motorcycle, during one shot you can clearly see a man throwing a dog into the ocean. And it's not even one of those little things you really have to be scrutinizing the shot to see — it's obvious, it's glaring, and it's a mystery how something like this made it through the Mr. Nanny editing process.

Equally mysterious is why the guy in the shot threw the dog in the water. Some have assumed this was an act of animal cruelty, and that the man was trying to drown the dog. But the dog appears to be fully grown and could probably swim just fine; besides which, the man doesn't appear to throw the dog in particularly deep water. Maybe this is a game the two play all the time? Maybe the dog really likes being thrown in the water? Maybe the dog would run up to him wanting to be thrown into the water? Maybe we're just accepting ludicrous possibilities because we're trying to avoid the obvious?

Regardless, it looks enough like a potential case of animal cruelty that it's amazing it wasn't edited out before hitting theaters.

Bad Boys -- no, not those

While the title Bad Boys is probably going to make you think of Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, and lots of explosions, there was a very different movie with the same title in 1983.

In 1983's Bad Boys, a young Sean Penn starred as Mick O'Brien, a teenage crook sent to juvenile detention after trying to rip off a rival and accidentally running over and killing a child in the process. It was Penn's second leading role in a feature film, with his first being the previous year's Fast Times at Ridgemont High. While it didn't win any of the cast or crew any prestigious awards, Bad Boys was well received by noteworthy critics of the day like Roger Ebert and the New York Times' Janet Maslin.

Clearly the reviews of Ebert, Maslin, and others were not based on stellar editing: The climax of Bad Boys gives us one of the most obvious and bewildering accidental extras in film history. During the final fight between Mick and Paco (Esai Morales), you can clearly see a kneeling cameraman recording the action along with a man standing behind him for two full seconds, and once you notice them, those two seconds seem a lot longer.

In this clip, at about the 14-second mark, look to the left of the struggling forms of Penn and Morales. It's not a blink-and-you'll-miss-it thing. The cameraman and the man guiding him are clearly in the shot. How the editor missed this is hard to imagine.

Braver heart, Braver hat

Bad Boys might not have been an award winner, but 1995's historical epic Braveheart took home a treasure trove of coveted honors. It won 1995's Best Picture Oscar, along with Oscars for best Director, Cinematography, Sound Editing, and Makeup. Among other awards, Director and star Mel Gibson won the Golden Globe for Best Director as well.

Regardless, critics of the film will happily point out the numerous major historical inaccuracies in the film (including having a Battle of Stirling Bridge without a Stirling Bridge). It's also known for numerous continuity errors and, of course, at least one accidental extra.

Relatively early in the film, when William Wallace (Mel Gibson) cheerfully challenges his childhood friend Hamish (Brendan Gleeson) to try to crush him with a rock, you can see a man wearing a baseball cap – likely a crew member — walking in the background. It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, but it's there and it's undeniable.

Pirates vs. Cowboys

Everyone argues about pirates vs. ninjas, but apparently Gore Verbinski was wondering more about how the awful scallywags of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl would handle themselves with cowboys thrown into the mix.

It's easy to miss and probably wasn't visible to every moviegoer — or even most. But in the final scene of the first Pirates movie, you can see an accidental extra in a white cowboy hat on the deck of the Black Pearl. It happens right after Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) takes command of the ship and yells "On deck, you scabrous dogs!" As the crew begins rushing to work, you can just make the guy out, staring out towards the ocean (or wherever they were filming). It's likely the "cowboy" was part of the crew, as many accidental extras wind up being, considering it would seem difficult for someone outside the film's cast or crew to sneak all the way onto the deck of the Pearl.

If you've never spotted it before, it might take some rewinding and fast forwarding, but in this clip you can spot the accidental extra 13 seconds in. He's to the left of Depp's head, right after Depp starts barking orders at the crew.

Master Frodo...one of those would finish this up quicker...

Because of snarky comments like the funny How It Should Have Ended video made about the films, it's often asked why — if the wizard Gandalf had a bunch of giant eagles on speed dial — he didn't just have the eagles carry the One Ring to Mordor.  It's funny. Not really a valid criticism of the story, but funny.

Still, even though it wouldn't have helped as much as giant eagles, a working car definitely could've helped the Fellowship. They could've bypassed Moria, not bothered with that dumb river at all, maybe run over some orcs along the way. Legolas might've complained about the emissions, but they just could've told him to get out and bake some cookies in a tree if he didn't like it.

On the Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition special features, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson revealed that though he hadn't meant to, he had made an accidental extra out of a car. Relatively early in Fellowship, as Sam (Sean Astin) and Frodo (Elijah Wood) are leaving the Shire, Sam is eventually hesitant to keep going because he realizes he's about to go farther from home than he ever has. As the camera pulls away, you can see what appears to be smoke in the distance. Jackson said that after Fellowship of the Ring was released, the folks driving the car contacted him to let him know they were in the shot.

Playing the clip above, at about the 20-second mark the camera pulls back to reveal the landscape. To the far right of Sam and Frodo, you can see the dust of the retreating car.

Apparently he was walking there

One of the most well remembered parts of 1969's Midnight Cowboy is Ratso (Dustin Hoffman) pounding on the hood of an oncoming cab and yelling, "I'm walkin' here!" Among other things. In fact, "I'm walkin' here" is just about the cleanest thing Hoffman says after the cab nearly hits him and co-star Jon Voight.

By almost hitting the pair, the offending cab driver became an accidental extra. The moment was completely unscripted and unexpected.

In 2012 Hoffman talked to the National Post about the scene. He said that Midnight Cowboy was low budget and couldn't afford to hire tons of extras, so the shot was filmed with a hidden camera. Because of this, the actors were at the mercy of the city, meaning Voight and Hoffman had to time things so they could get to the intersection as the light was red, and finish up in time to get across the street before it turned green. Hoffman said the pair rehearsed it and got the timing down, but on the first take, the infamous cab jumped the light.

Hoffman said he was furious at the cab driver for interrupting the moviemaking, but "somehow, something told me 'You'd better keep it within the character.'"

There seems to be some disagreement about whether or not what survived onscreen was the original, unscripted event. Some seem to remember that it was inspired by something unscripted — by a cab that almost hit Voight and Hoffman — but that what you see in the finished film actually was planned. One thing that would seem to go against that, however, is that Hoffman's Ratso-voice completely disappears when he yells at the driver, which you might understandably presume would only happen if it was improvised.

So you had a bad day

If you were hired as an extra, and if you harbored hopes for something better — something with better pay, something more prestigious, something that might even leave an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of America — you might understandably think, "the absolute last thing I should do is get really drunk and physically assault one of the actors." Really. No one would think you were wrong. No one would tell you, "Stop playing it safe! Attack people!" Seriously. Unless you're a boxer or an MMA fighter or you work for United Airlines, no one is going to tell you that attacking people is a shortcut to promotion.

But then you might not be working on the set of Being John Malkovich.

On the director commentary for the movie's DVD release, director Spike Jonze claims the scene in which a man in a passing car pegs Malkovich in the back of a head with a beer can was completely unplanned. He said the extras were supposed to simply supposed to drive past Malkovich and do nothing. Instead, the extra was drunk and yelled, "Hey Malkovich! Think fast!" and threw the offending can.

Malkovich, however, claims this wasn't the case. During a 2013 Reddit AMA to promote the release of Red 2, Malkovich responded to someone asking if he was angry about the "drunk extra." Malkovich responded that the can toss was absolutely planned. He said Jonez was thinking about skipping it because filming had gone late and the director didn't think anyone would be able to throw accurately enough to hit the actor. Malkovich wrote that "about 70 or 80 sets of hands shot up on the crew saying they would like to try."

Yeah buddy, I need to get my own wessel

In 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home an extra landed herself an unexpected speaking part in the film. Unlike the possibly drunk extra from Being John Malkovich who did it by being a jerk, the Trek extra got it by being more polite than she was supposed to be.

Star Trek IV brought the original crew of the Enterprise back to the present day. Once they arrived in the late 20th century, Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Chekov (Walter Koenig) were tasked with finding an energy source with which to get back to the future. The pair knew they needed to get radioactive material and were trying to get directions to the — as Chekov called them — "nuclear wessels." It's one the funnier moments of the pre-Abrams Trek movies, and part of it was absolutely unplanned.

When Uhura and Chekov started desperately asking any passersby where they could find the nuclear vessels, the extras were instructed to not respond other than to look at them as if they were out of their minds.

San Francisco resident and Trek extra Layla Sarakalo disobeyed orders. She stopped and, in a completely improvised conversation, gave Uhura and Chekov the best answer she could — which was to simply tell them the ships could be found in Alameda, which they already knew – and went on her way. The filmmakers liked it so much, they signed Sarakalo up to the Screen Actors Guild. She was shocked to later learn the scene survived into theaters.

Sarakalo, by the way, signed up to be an extra only after her car was towed because Star IV was filming on her street and she hadn't seen the notices announcing the filming and hadn't moved the car. She figured being an extra was one way to help pay to recover it.