Background acting is harder than just not looking into the camera. You need to fill the screen without distracting the audience from the shot. It’s harder to do than one would think.
There is one actress in particular I’d like to bring to your attention. She isn’t listed in the IMDB.com credits but she should be. So for the sake of this article I will call her Janet because I care enough to give her a name.
Since the the scene she acts in takes place at the end of the movie…
Two guys talking at a supermarket deli. Simple enough. The camera pulls back on Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen until they are framed in the middle of the shot with sunlight coming in from the window and a lot of people shopping around them. It’s kind of a complicated but it’s not the train station scene from Once Upon a Time in the West
but for a grocery store there is a lot going on. You have the wine display, the sandwich island, and off to the left in the produce section is a true background artist.
Janet is starring in her own movie called, Woman Buys Lemons.
I’ve watched it 20 times now and it keeps getting better. Even though it’s only ten seconds long, there is much to learn. This I know for sure – she buys lemons. A shit ton of lemons. We see her put three in her basket on camera. There looks to be at least 5 more at the bottom of the basket. Why so many lemons? The way I see it there are three possibilities:
1. Lemonade. But mixing lemon juice and sugar together doesn’t seem like Janet’s style. Watch again and look for her sense of urgency as she picks them up. She has something more in mind than some nickel and dime operation.
2. Freckle juice. Maybe but you only need the juice of one lemon for that. Besides I’d like to give Janet a little more credit to fall for a third grade hustle.
3. Secret message. It’s the only logical reason. Janet doesn’t have a second lease on life like Mr. Simmons did and she has no heirs. She needs a test to help find someone worthy of the family treasures. She needs to write a series of clues with invisible ink and hide them in the city. The person who solves the mystery inherits her fortune.
So next time you watching a movie, pay closer attention to the entire cast. Janet’s performance proves that every character has an important story and that there are no small roles in a movie.
Alternate Fruit Ending
Judd Apatow was so impressed with Janet’s background acting that he had to shoot an alternate ending. This time he had her put a grapefruit in the basket. It looks as if she may have a long career as the actor to go to for “fruit handling.”