Written by Jen Brown

Arts

Big Bang, small part

Our Hollywood correspondent Jen Brown spent the day working as an extra on a special episode of The Big Bang Theory. She was pretty excited (but not too much to keep a diary for us). Bazinga!

The cast of The Big Bang Theory (Jen with luggage not pictured). Photo: CBS.

The cast of The Big Bang Theory (Jen with luggage not pictured). Photo: CBS.

SUNDAY NIGHT:
11.00pm
Bed.

11.45pm onwards
Can’t sleep. Nervous for tomorrow.

MONDAY MORNING:
5.00am

A glance through my actor’s accessories. Smart and traveller-like. It’s an airport scene. A bright scarf (to be noticed). A small case on wheels to add weight to my passenger status. Not stones and pounds – credence. I am she, Mr Second AD, the one who you seek.

6.00am
I brush my teeth and have a dizzy spell. Toothpaste smears the front of my freshly ironed blouse. It wipes off easily and adds a pearlised texture. The smell of mint will be acceptable in an airport.

A brisk brush of hot curls makes my head a furnace. My rollers are too hot and searing scalp pain is sending autonomic messages to my bum. (‘The Involuntary Bowel Evacuation’)

7.00am
I call an Uber and use my waiting time to talk myself down and acknowledge I am only background. ONLY?! Where would Sitcom be without background? Nowhere! Backgrounders rock!

Not wanting to stunt my interpretation, I ditch the case. (‘The Lugging Luggage Impediment’)

The Friends stage8.00am
Check into Warner Brothers, Stage 25. Across from the Friends stage! Today, I will clap eyes on Sheldon Cooper and his sexy little sidekick, Leonard Hofstadter.

Word on the block has it that Shelly is at the airport to welcome a beloved relative. The most beloved of them all, in fact. OMG! Cry into your bedpan, Mrs Wolowitz, Sheldon’s visitor is a real person, with a body!

This acquired information is too much, and once more, the lavvy calls my name.

8.30am
On set: The airport is as real as can be. I gaze, longingly at two rows of seats – Background days are long. Mr Second AD reads my thoughts and, without ado, I am chosen and seated at the end of a row, plumb in front of ‘Arrivals’.

I weigh up my colleagues and immediately resent Attractive Woman with Designer Suitcase. Inward cheer, as she is put to one side. No one wears my daft, spaced-out expression. I know my face is doing this because I’ve checked in a mirror. It is utterly gobsmacked and declares my wonder to know no bounds.

9.30am
Blocking: Stand-ins are on their marks and standing in/around. Leonard’s counterpart is tiny with a fair sprinkling of stardust upon his little person. I smile, uncontrollably, at his petite panache. ‘Sheldon’ is tall and thin, with clear diction.

The Director arrives. I am unseated and placed next to HER stand in. I’m making an entrance. Sheldon will soon embrace his loved one but before that, the real ‘I am’ will be to my left!

I have gone from sat-down, weary traveller to a “That’s not her”! Sheldon will announce this, as I emerge. He will proclaim I’m not the one he is looking for. I’ve peaked and am ready to knock this scene into an episode. I am on fire. (‘The Meemaw Motivation’)

Jen with June Squibb, who plays Sheldon's 'Meemaw'.

Jen with June Squibb, who plays Sheldon’s ‘Meemaw’.

Backstory is everything; I decide, ahead of time, that I was sitting next to her on the ‘plane and that I got to know her very well. I know what she likes to eat and drink and that she prefers an aisle seat. We chatted during turbulence about the convenience of being on the end.

Unexpectedly, the Props Man removes my case because it is making a noise. I blame him entirely for not packing it right. The careful tracing of the noise back to me is a positive. I was kind of headhunted. (‘The Being Discovered Approximation’)

10.00am
My wardrobe is approved: toothpaste embellishment and all. Smart jeans and casual jacket stamp me as the perfect ‘Airport Patron’. I feel like I’ve passed an exam.

10.15am
Breakfast. Can’t eat. I stock up on apples and nuts and will my bowels to hold out.

big bang stage list11.00am
We are taken from set and ‘held’ in a posh house, on a beautiful street. I feel I have seen it before. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, perhaps. It is cold so I sit on the steps, outside in the sun. I visualise Audrey Hepburn playing her guitar on the window ledge above me. In my mind, I hear strains of Moon River and nearly start to cry.

2.00pm
Stage 25: All at once, it is time. The stars have come out and I am next to a lady with the sweetest face. Shortly, I will walk past Sheldon and Leonard, but I must look beyond, to that ‘someone’ who is greeting me.

Mr Second AD points and out I march. THEY are to my right. I want to stop and tell Shelly what a wonderful flying companion his visitor is – but I’m not stupid, I want to do this again, someday. He and Leonard are in my peripheral vision and it has to be enough.

big bang stage 25 croppedToo quickly, it is over and I am in the wings and out of the airport. For three more takes, I resist the urge to turn into Sheldon’s relative and give him a hug. I watch in awe, as the scene concludes with typical Sheldon and Leonard banter. Oh, how those masters banter.

4.00pm
Wrapped. Not that much richer, dollar-wise, but emotionally, a millionaire.

Relevant footnote: I learn later that I need not have worried. When my moment came, the camera was on Sheldon and not me. (How on earth was that allowed to happen?!). He was talking ABOUT me, though, and I had to give him something to play off.

So, I nailed it. Bang on.

@MmePcato

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Written by Jen Brown

A Hollywood based Geordie pensioner living on her wits. Affectionately known as Nano to her granddaughters. Instantly likeable. (Daughter's words!) @MmePcato