Following on from my stint on Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, I remained on the books of Casting Collective, an agency that supplies extras for movies. I never expected to hear from them again, but I did, and they were giving nothing away about whatever production it was they wanted me for.
As I am over 6′ tall, they said they wanted me to play a soldier. I knew that Steven Spielberg was shooting War Horse in the UK at the time, so I did wonder if it might be that. However, a friend of mine went to have his costume fitting a few days ahead of me, and he dropped me a line to say that it was in fact…CAPTAIN AMERICA!
I nearly fainted. I’m a pretty big Marvel nerd so the thought of playing an (admittedly tiny) part in the burgeoning Marvel Cinematic Universe was mind blowing. As it transpired, the part turned out to be even tinier than I imagined.
When I went for the costume fitting I discovered that I was going to be filling the boots of a Hydra Infantryman, one of the bad guys. The good thing about this was that the uniform I’d be wearing was amazing. The bad thing about it was that my face would not be visible. But you know what? I didn’t care. I was going to be in Captain America! Playing one of the Hydra Infantry! That was enough for me.
They originally told me to clear my diary for two weeks. That then became a week. In the end, they only used me for one night. But I spent that one night in the company of a bunch of guys playing Hydra soldiers (some of whom I knew), a bunch of guys playing prisoners of war (who I’d get to push around) and none other that director Joe Johnston and star Chris Evans!
If you’re a Star Wars fan, the name Joe Johnston carries some weight. That dude did incredible concept art for the original trilogy. Dude, he designed Slave 1, Boba Fett’s spaceship, so I was excited just to be breathing the same air as him! Chris Evans I was only familiar with from the Fantastic Four movies, but I thought he aced his role as Johnny Storm and I could easily see him nailing the part of Steve Rogers/Captain America.
Filming was taking place in an old MOD base in Monmouthshire, Wales, which was standing in for a WWII POW camp. The night before, they had filmed a big action sequence with lots of explosions etc. I was gutted to have missed out on that. On the night I was there they were filming the sequence where Cap is sneaking into the camp to bust out the prisoners.
Despite the fact that all I did was stand around carrying a huge gun, or pace up and down with a huge gun, it was still hard going. The uniform was uncomfortable, my boots were too small and the gun was very very heavy. I had a retro-futuristic belt fastened around my waist with an ammo belt running from that to the gun. Everything was screwed together so I couldn’t put the gun down all night. But still, I didn’t care. I was on the Captain America film set!
So, I spent a cold and drizzly night guarding a POW camp as groups of prisoners were marched in and out, and as Chris Evans snuck past me time after time after time. I will say this though, the catering was excellent!
I saw the movie with my parents when it was released. One of the very few times in the last twenty years they’d been to the cinema. We all enjoyed it, despite not being able to spot me as my face was obscured by the costume.
But the important thing here is not that I spent just one night with Captain America, it’s that I was there at all. Full stop. It’s that I was standing in front of the camera when Joe Johnston yelled “Action!”. It’s that I saw Chris Evans in his special chair marked ‘Chris Evans’. It’s that I actually am a tiny, microscopically small, completely unidentifiable part of the MCU.
And the best part? Hasbro released a Hydra Armored Soldier action figure, so I now have an action of figure of myself! Okay, so there were lots of us strapping six-footers playing Hydra soldiers, but nobody’s gonna steal my thunder here. I have an action figure of myself!
How many people get to say that after a one-night stand?