"My work as an actor on location/set
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- - Badger

Badger in Pearl Harbor

Friday January 26, 2001

Geoffrey Gould theatrical 8x10 [click photo for better view]

I received a call from Hannah at On Location Casting for me to play a "featured patient" in the upcoming Michael Bay action feature Pearl Harbor (Michael Bay also directed the action films Armageddon and The Rock). According to Hannah, he hand-selected my photo (this is not uncommon in the industry).

I find it interesting that I'll be working on the film I know is due for a Memorial Day release, an impressive full trailer for which I'd also already seen at the cinema the previous weekend! My wardrobe fitting, set for Monday January 29th (as it is a Touchstone Picture) would be at the Walt Disney Studios Studios.

Monday January 29, 2001

I arrived at the Riverside entrance to Disney Studios at about 10am for my 11:15am wardrobe appointment. I kept getting turned around in the backlot, trying to find the wardrobe department. Eventually I was able to find Philip (one of two with whom I could check in) behind Stage Two, where Pearl Harbor has been filming.

I finally got to wardrobe around 10:45 and Maria (the other person with whom I could check-in) arrived at 11am. Between Maria and costume designer Michael Kaplan, whom I also met, I was fitted for a regular civilian outfit.
I learned that I am to be featured as a dental patient.

I was then sent back to Stage Two where my hair was shorne and "styled" to 1940's style. The sound stage still has "little bits" of scenes of various things at which I didn't really get a very good look. According to its specs, stage two is 130' x 240' (31,200 square feet) and 40' high.

Sunday February 04, 2001

I received my 9:30am calltime on Thursday. Taking the bus an hour earlier I arrived at the Buena Vista entrance to Disney Studios at about 8:30am. This entrance is right "at" Stage Two, around the corner of which was breakfast in which I partook. As the day progressed I was quite disappointed with the shoot's craft "services:" no real munchies nor availably accessable sodas (one had to ask for one instead of an accessable cooler).

With time on my hands (before officially checking in) I wandered across the empty lot for a photo of the main building out front. I then checked in with Set Staff Assistant Eric Mention to let him know I was there; he was a bit surprised I was "so early," but understood my concepts towards movie shoots: I'd rather be an hour early than a minute late. Even though I was not on the clock until 9:30am, at 9:15 he gave me my voucher and carefully requested maybe I could check in with wardrobe, make up, etc., with which I had no problem.

I got my wardrobe into which I changed, then headed to make-up. The ladies therein decided (my scene being set in Hawaii) that I should have a nice tan. Using a black oily looking goop that had the faint scent of almonds, my face, arms and hands were coated and "allowed to 'bake'." As this "baking" process would take a while "to set," I was sent over to hair. One thing they noticed was on my arms the stuff was somewhat streaky; it turned out this may have been due to the sensι skin-care products from USANA that I use daily that make my skin so healthy, smooth and soft. Even though I'd had my hair cut the previous Monday, it was cut way down particularly in the back. Back at make up they kept working on getting the tan right on my arms. Set Staff Assistant Roberta Riordan popped in a couple of times informing me/the make-up laides that I "was needed on the set." These announcements did not bother nor did they hasten the work of the make up ladies.

Declared ready finally, I scooted to the set where they were working on a snipped of a ship set depicting the quarters of ship Captain (British actor Peter Firth). Without actually being asked or anything, I was plunked where Firth would be when First Team was up. To my amazement, I found I was doing my first work as a STAND-IN (that and the set smoke-work gave me some nice voucher pay-bump adjustments)!

While I was waiting for First Team, I could not help but notice the large dog wandering the sound stage. It is pretty tough to miss a full size English Mastiff. The dog wasn't unfriendly and he wandered about with impunity but was not overtly outgoingly friendly. That is, he didn't mind being stroked if happened to wander close enough, but in general he preferred following his owner whenever he walked from the monitor the few feet to the set. I asked one of the two gentlemen as to the handsome dog's name (at that time I did not know who was who), one of whom clearly owned the dog. The man in the beige sweater told me the dog's name was Mason, but I'd soon learn that (a) Mason belonged to the fellow in the blue shirt, (b) said owner was director Michael Bay, (c) the fellow in beige was producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

The film's director/producer Michael Bay checked the shots that they were okay and the First Team was called in. Peter Firth came out first and, noticing I was his stand-in, smiled and graciously shook my hand and introduced himself.
"Oh yes, sir, I know," I told him. "I know your work as far back as Lifeforce and Equus."
"Equus…!" he all but exclaimed. "That somewhat dates you," he chuckled.
I pointed out I couldn't miss a Jenny Agutter film. Not surprisingly, at the mention of my favourite actress's name, for a moment one could see his memory of her rushing back…

The scene (at the time I [inaccurately] surmised took place after the actual Pearl Harbor attack) had Cuba Gooding Jr. as Dorie Miller bringing morning coffee to the captain (Peter Firth). The captain is looking out the porthole as Miller pours out the coffee and brings the cup to the desk.
"Have you ever … lost a fight, Miller?" the Captain asks him.
"I've been lucky so far," Miller replies modestly.
"From what I hear, luck had nothing to do with it," the Captain points out. "The ship's proud of you, son," he says, and Miller shares with the Captain a smile.

This was first done a bit wide (with a dolly truck) shot. Then a close up on the two of them, one of Gooding and one of Firth. It took a few takes of each.

At one point Firth gaffed the line big time.
"From what I hear, 'luck' had nothing to do with it. The ship's proud of you, boy."
For some reason this did not get any sort of awkward laugh. Gooding, however, was heartily amused at the faux pax. "Now I'm 'boy'…?" he quipped, clearly unoffended.
"Well, he's British," Bay pointed out, indicating Firth doesn't get the implications of "boy" in such a context.
"…'The ship's proud of y', "Spooky"…'!" Gooding continued to joke, imitating Firth…

As I indicated, Mason wasn't unfriendly but he wasn't didn't go out of his way to be overtly friendly either. However, at one point the dog leaned up against me from behind so I reached back without even having to bend over, and skritched his withers and flank. Later it was pointed out to me that Mason had left a lot of fur on the back of my pants legs! Good thing my scene would be sitting down…

After the Captain's Quarters scene, and Cuba Gooding and Peter Firth were wrapped for the day, everyone moved outside for a spitfire special effect scene to be shot between Stage Two and holding-area Stage Three. It entailed a shot spitfire plane (about a third of which was actually there: mostly the cock pit) and it took them a while to set it up. They filled it with smoke, with a tech running a fan on the front of the plane right at the lip of the cockpit front, as well as the guy letting some smoke blow through the fan. The special effects guys kept warning everyone about their firing off "glue sticks," giving no indication as to what this meant or how it would look. All they kept saying in what direction they would "fire."

Eventually they started rolling, the cockpit filled with white smoke, and the glue sticks fired. I was close enough to see but at a safe enough distance: it "shot" three (maybe four) "bullet holes" through the cockpit. They then put the stunt guy into the cockpit and refilled it with white smoke. At "Action!" the stunt guy burst his left arm through the shot plastic cockpit hatch (freeing himself). While the actual "shots" weren't that loud, all in all it seemed kinda cool. I was sure in context it could be very exciting.

'Pearl Harbor' Michael Bey (in the brown shirt) with his two dogs in the Disney Studios parking lot

While Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer looked over paperwork, a somewhat bored Mason grabbed the nearest chew toy: a regulation plastic traffic cone on which he chewed and about which he carried as easily as he would a tennis ball. While waiting for the stunt gag to be set up, those of the crew not directly involved wandered about. To keep happy the bored Mason, Michael led him into Stage Three where there was also a deep filled pool in the floor, into which Mason was encouraged to dive and swim.

I was brought in for the dentist scene. While they were setting up the camera and lights, a prop master gave me a thin 1940's wristwatch as well as a gold wedding band.

The set was a small office up on a platform in a small area still within Stage Two. Outside the office windows were fake leafy plants blown by fans. Beyond that a huge blue screen with which ILM could later put in whatever was wanted (most likely, the harbour). I sat in the dentist chair as they were done setting up, and Michael winced at the fact the windows were spotlessly clean.
"Can these windows be any more fake-looking?" he asked.
He was told that ILM "instructed" them that the glass had to be spotlessly clean.

The angles and takes used at first seemed to belie my getting any screen time at all! It seemed mostly an over my shoulder shot (maybe some of my hair and my right ear), and possibly a bit of a profile shot as the Japanese dentist was working on my mouth.

As scripted, the scene entails cutting back and forth from the dentist to his caller, a Japanese spy (filmed elsewhere and earlier). The spy asks as to the current local weather, what ships are visible in the harbour, etc., and (in Japanese as well) the dentist politely answers the inquiries without wondering who or why is he being called. Once the information needed is required, the spy apparently just hangs up to the bewilderment of the dentist. "Hallo? Hallo? That was a strange call," he says simply, hanging up the phone and merely returns to his work (on me).

What quasi-angered director Michael was that the lovely Polynesian-looking nurse (ironically named Jenny) had a(n adorable but) rather pronounced Aussie accent.
"Wha'…? What are you from England or something?" he asked at first somewhat surprised or thinking she was affecting her speech.
"Melbourne," she replied.
"Australia…?!" he blurted. "There was no accent on the audition tape!"
I do not know if he was being angry or joking but at one point later he flat-out accused her of "lying" on the audition tape. She managed to do as best an American accent as possible.

As for me, after several takes in different angles, Michael came into the li'l set and the Feeling In The Air was that he was about to say Let's Move On (meaning, we're done filming this scene). Then he just glanced over at me at me sitting forward in the dentist chair. He asked for a shot or two of me Sitting There Waiting for the dentist to be through with the phone call.

They quickly moved stuff around to accomodate the shot. Michael went back to the monitors and directed me from there.
"Okay, look at your watch… Now look up…"
I did so, not raising my face from glancing down at the watch, but only letting my eyes look up towards where the doctor was supposed to be (my sightline was the antiquated x-ray machine). The "eye move" was deliberate, and Michael stifled an outright laugh but a loud chortle did emerge.
"Okay, once again," he directed, not unamused with the move. "This time not quite so comedic…" he chuckled.
This time I glanced at the watch and raised my face up so the move and facial expression was "non committal." I puffed air through my lips impatiently a few times. After a few minutes Michael had everyone Move On and lunch was called, right on time.

It should be noted that the aforementioned antiquated x-ray machine… should be noted (when you view the film).

They quickly moved stuff around to accomodate the shot. That is, as each angled shot was done, the machine was moved: closer to the wall, away from the wall, etc. Essentially, it could be noticed that during our brief li'l scene, it's all over the place…!

Michael Bey inspecting memorial monolist seen at the very end of 'Pearl Harbor' (as a throw-away image to the right of the screen as they head to the barn) - [click image to enlarge]

Although I was done and "wrapped" (it was 3:30pm) I was able to stick around for the lunch. Afterwards I changed into my civies, got my voucher bumped up from Mere Extra to Stand In (as well as a bump for the smoke they used in both scenes in which I worked), I got a photo or two of Mason and Grace, with Michael candidly in the background, and I departed Disney Studios.

I was picked up by my friend Gina, a screenwriter and aspiring film maker, currently back east again, but may return to the west coast as apparently her screenplay is beginning to generate some interest…

Update, May 27, 2000:
To surprise my mother for her 75th birthday, I flew back east for Memorial Day weekend. Sunday Mom and I went to see Pearl Harbor and found it very well done. While I am visible, it is literally a Don't Blink situation. The scene is edited to combine the dentist, the spy caller, and the naval listening post eavesdropping on the call. Cutting to me would have broken the pace of the sequence.

But I am there, on the Extreme Far Left of the screen for barely a hair's bredth at the opening of the dentist scene. Unlikely I will be visible on the TV format version. Only wide-screen versions (DVD, et al) I'd surmise would actually show me.

I did get quite a kick out of seeing Mason getting a cameo as Alex Baldwin's character's dog…

Pearl Harbor DVD
Director's Cut DVD available for
May 14, 2002 release pre-order.
Pearl Harbor Director's Cut DVD

Update, February 12, 2002:

The 2002 Academy Awards Nominations for Pearl Harbor include:
  • Music (song) - There You'll Be - Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
  • Sound - Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin
  • Sound Editing - George Watters II and Christopher Boyes
  • Visual Effects - Eric Brevig, John Frazier, Ed Hirsh and Ben Snow

March 24, 2002:

The 2002 Academy Award winners…

  • Music (song) - If I Didn't Have You from Monsters, Inc.
    Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
  • Sound - Michael Minkler, Myron Nettinga and Chris Munro, Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin for Black Hawk Down

  • Sound Editing - George Watters II and Christopher Boyes for Pearl Harbor

  • Visual Effects - Jim Rygiel, Randall William Cook, Richard Taylor and Mark Stetson for Lord of the Rings

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