Saturday, August 24, 2002

Actors ride dreams to stardom

2,000 hopefuls flood casting call for shot as extra in 'Seabiscuit'

By Margaret A. McGurk,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        More than 2,000 people showed up at the Millennium Hotel downtown Friday for a shot at seeing themselves on screen in the big-budget horse racing drama Seabiscuit, which will shoot scenes in Ohio and Kentucky this fall.

[photo] Hopefuls for a part in the film Seabiscuit apply in a casting call Friday in Cincinnati.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        “I am feeling enormous cooperation and warmth here, and that is the reason we are in Cincinnati,” extras casting director Bill Dance told some 500 people in the hotel's Grand Ballroom as they waited to fill out applications.

        Mr. Dance answered questions and told stories about his experiences on other films, including A Beautiful Mind and Steel Magnolias, before talking about Seabiscuit, which will star Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) as a half-blind Depression era jockey who rode an unlikely racehorse to worldwide fame.

        Andrew Jackson of Mount Auburn said he came down on a whim, even though he has never acted before. The 50-year-old disabled office worker said “I had nothing else to do, and it sounded like fun. I'd just like to be in a movie.”

        Sarah VanderMeer, a physical therapist from Fairfield, and her boyfriend, Steve Peefer, a diesel mechanic from Colerain Township, decided to attend the casting call because both had a day off work.

        “He talks about dreaming of being an actor,” Ms. VanderMeer said, pointing at Mr. Peefer, who interjected, “Sorta.”

        They think their chances are good, based on Mr. Dance's description of a preference for “one-color hair” and pale skin tones.

        Because the film takes place in the 1930s, Mr. Dance told the crowd, modern hair styles are out, as are modern jewelry, watches and clothing. Women chosen will be instructed on how to curl their hair '30s style; men may be in for a trim.

        Extras will be paid $75 for a 12-hour day; longer hours will mean overtime. Extras are forbidden to take photos, ask for autographs or bring visitors to the set.

        Wendy Thumb, an assistant to Mr. Dance, said it was not yet clear how many extras will be chosen from the Cincinnati sessions, but said Seabiscuit ultimately will use about 13,000 extras nationwide, including scenes to be shot in California and New York.

        Casting continues today at the hotel, 141 W. Sixth St., at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. Children ages 4 though 17 will be auditioned only at a special session at 3 p.m.

        For more information, call the film commission hotline at 588-9904.


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