My words are useless here…so let’s give ‘Water For Elephants‘ extra, Emily, the floor. Her WFE Extra Experience is wonderful.
It was 2:30am when I was rudely awaken by my alarm, Today Was A Fairytale by Taylor Swift. Little did I know that was exactly what my day would be, a fairytale. I was up and on the road by 3:00am on my way to Fox Studios to make my 3:48am call time. Once I arrived, I walked to check-in where Kate was sitting in her usual spot behind the table handing out vouchers. Next, it was on to wardrobe where I dressed in my vintage 1930’s light pink dress that was meant to make me look 13 years old.
Then, just like any other day on the Water for Elephants set, I made my way to hair and make-up where they would do virtually nothing to me except put bows in my long braided pig tales (I was one of the lucky few that did not have to put curlers in their hair the night before to achieve the 1930’s up-do). I walked back to holding to wait for the long day of shooting to begin.
The sun had almost completely risen when it was time to go.
First scene of the day: watching the parade go down the Weehawken, NJ street which was adorned with American flags (with only 48 stars), Benzini Bros. Posters, and vintage 1930’s cars. I stood on the sidewalk with my prop (a flag) as the AD (Assistant Director) yelled, “BACKGROUND!” That was our cue to start watching the parade excitedly as it came down the street.
First, the Big Top Band rolled through playing their instruments. The clowns and various circus acts followed; and then, there she was, Tai the elephant (Rosie). She was wearing her usual headdress and was made-up with fake wounds as Reese Witherspoon (Marlena) rode her down the street, waving. Everyone was all-smiles as Christoph Waltz (August) walked by their side showing them off. However, in character, Robert Pattinson (Jacob) was watching closely to see if August was going to beat Rosie, as he was notorious for. The parade went on as zebras, llamas, and a lion followed down the street. “Cut!” the AD yelled, and the extras and actors all returned to their 2010-selves.
In between takes one of the clowns offered Rob a piece of candy. Knowing the clowns’ tendency to prank, Rob jumped back expecting something to happen, but the clown just laughed and reoffered it to him. Rob, still not trusting the clown, hesitantly took it and walked away laughing.
MORE Rob, Christoph, Rosie, & Sara after the sigh as Emily’s story continues…
We were now ready for our next take, same thing but different angle. Once again the AD yelled, “Action!” However, one of the llama’s had a mind of its own and refused to walk forward as its handler pulled on its harness as hard as she could. Blocking the entire parade, everyone, including all the actors and director, erupted in laughter forcing the AD to cut the shot. Seeing the reaction of everyone on set, I really hope that part makes it in the blooper reel of the DVD extras.
In between each take throughout the day, various families of crew members would take pictures with Tai. It would be the last chance they get before she was done with her role as Rosie later that day. Rob, in between takes, would either hit up craft services, or talk with his costars or his assistant/bodyguard (who was with him at all times). He would also go to Tai and the other animals and pet them. He really enjoyed interacting with the animals a lot.
While waiting in the hot July sun, it was nearing lunchtime as they sent many extras back to the holding area. I was one of the lucky few that were chosen to stay for the close-up shot with Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz. This shot was awesome because I would get the chance to be inches away from Rob as he walked down the street for the parade (every Rob-lover’s dream). We were told to pantomime so the sound guys could pick up Rob and Christoph reciting their lines.
This scene was pretty intense as both the actors spat their lines with anger toward one another while trying to keep their composure for the crowd. Both Christoph and Rob did this part very well considering their strong friendship off camera. After many takes of that (which I’m not complaining about at all haha) we were finally off to lunch. I have to admit for the amount of people they had to feed, the food was really good! We had pasta, cheesy potatoes, corn, bread, salad, ice cream, brownies, and cookies.
After lunch we sat in holding while the rest of the cast and crew finished up their lunch. Little did we know a lot of extras were going to be cut, but once again I was lucky enough to be chosen to stay. It was a good thing because these last scenes of the day were all about Robowski. We walked our way to set and watched as they prepared the next shot. Jacob was going to be entering a diner. The shot was as simple as that, but the lighting was not. After waiting quite a while, the cameras were ready to roll.
The AD told me I was supposed to walk behind Rob right when they said, “Background.” Without complaint that’s exactly what I did! Just when I thought the day was about over, we were told we had one scene left to do. This would be the best scene of the day too. It would involve Jacob, Camel, Rosie, and some vegetables. As we got into our places, I was right up in front of the crowd when I realized who I was standing next to, the one, the only, Sara Gruen and her family. This was such a surreal moment for me because she was the one who created this all and now she was going to get a cameo in the movie. The director instructed Rob to push through the crowd and pass directly by Sara to get to Rosie who was misbehaving.
Once again I found myself inches away from Rob (swoon). This scene had a lot of dialogue in it so I got to hear Rob’s gorgeous American accent over and over; however, right as they would yell cut, he would go back to his even more gorgeous British accent. Right after one of the shots, he was standing in front of me and flashed one of his infamous smiles at me. I had a minor freak-out but recovered fast enough to smile back. We found ourselves doing this many times because poor Tai was tired and didn’t want to listen very well (I don’t blame her! She’d been working hard all day).
While we had a break between takes, I had the privilege of talking with the author. She asked me when I got there and when I responded, 3:30am, she was shocked and seemed grateful that I and many others had been there for over 16 hours to bring her story to life. I then asked her how it felt having her story made into a major motion picture and she said, “I work with words, and words cannot even describe.” (something she later posted on her facebook profile). We chatted for a while after that about different things about the book and what she thought about the script (which she thought was very well written). We finished up the day with a few more shots of the same thing and were released at 8:30pm.
This experience on Water for Elephants has truly been amazing. Having the privilege of waking up in the morning and working with Oscar winners and the world’s biggest heartthrob is something I would have only dreamed of two months ago. It has now become a reality I will never forget and I am grateful to have the opportunity of sharing with the world.
……..wow, right? We’re grateful for YOU, Emily. Your recap was beautiful and we appreciate you bringing the WFE fans into the fold. The WFE extras hold a special place in all our hearts 🙂
About Emily: A film student at CSULB (Kinker Tink: GO BEACH!), she hopes to one day become a director, an actress, and/or a producer in the film industry. Currently, she works as an extra on various movies and television shows and also works on awards shows as a talent/celebrity handler. You can follow Emily on twitter @emilygee5.
We wish you all the best in your life and your career, Emily!