I’m dancing in a crowd. There is no music, but we are all on the same page—pulsing to the beat we all know after several practice rounds, with our O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beer in the air.
We stop dancing. I take a sip of my beer, forgetting that it’s non-alcoholic and tastes mostly like water, but not enough to quench my thirst, leaving me confused and more thirsty than before.
An older man in a baseball cap comes out from the wings of the concert stage. He’s the second assistant director. He proceeds to give notes on the scene. Our dancing was great.
Talking to a specific character featured in the scene, he says, “If we make a reference to your girlfriend later, it’s going to be the girl in the green hat.” I almost take a sip of my non-alcoholic beer again but stop. Wait.
I look up at the AD. I look around at the other extras near me. My face grows hot. A man with a large beard and a cowboy hat comes up to me. “I’m going to bring you up to the stage with me in the next take.” I’m sorry, but, what exactly is happening here?
HERE was the Warner Bros. lot. I was on the Warner Bros. lot. I was working on the Warner Bros. lot. I had just moved to Los Angeles, and I was relatively broke so I had signed up to be an extra at Central Casting for some “easy” extra cash.
This was my first casting. I was a “concert goer” on the Netflix show The Ranch. I started the day in a bubble of wonder. I was doing the thing on the proverbial lot. I stepped outside The Ranch’s soundstage into the sunlight as a golf cart of tourists zoomed by. I was one of them once, but not today.
I’m still reckoning with my green hat when I hear, “ACTION.” The next thing I know, I’m dancing again and the cowboy grabs my hand and pulls me to the front of the crowd. I am now standing next to Ashton Kutcher but cannot acknowledge that I’m standing next to Ashton Kutcher . I jump up and down with the cowboy, trying to get the imaginary country singer’s attention. A camera is in my face, but I also cannot acknowledge that there is a camera in my face . Suddenly, Ashton Kutcher grabs my proclaimed boyfriend’s poster and rips it in half. It read, “Bring me onstage, I want to propose!” He wants to propose to me, but Ashton Kutcher wants to propose to his girlfriend, so he can’t let us steal his proposal. I look at Ashton Kutcher in shock and dismay, hugging my boyfriend close.
I do this several times. I jump. I fein shock. My mouth hangs agape. My face hurts. I’m thirsty, but I can’t drink. Ashton Kutcher is drinking Stella. I want to ask him for some. Suddenly I’m jumping again for the country singer.
My beer has splattered onto the edge of the stage.
Noticing the spill, Ashton Kutcher turns to me and says, “You’re kind of a sloppy drunk aren’t you.” A statement, not a question.
I have absolutely no idea what I said to Ashton Kutcher, but I know that he smiled in response.
After we wrap that scene, I am in one more. I am then on set for another 5 hours or so, to do more dancing. I am exhausted. I am dehydrated. I have worked a 12-hour day, but I get fed pizza at the end of the night, so I go home happy.
Months later, when I am long retired from extra-ing, the episode comes out. I’m on screen for what seems like forever, but is probably only 30 seconds or fewer.
12 hours of my life for 30 seconds of immortality…