Unfortunately Steven Spielberg’s epic film – Lincoln – didn’t walk away with the top prize or sweep this year’s Academy Awards. When Spielberg shot the movie in Richmond two years ago, everyone knew at least someone who was acting in the film if they weren’t themselves, since Richmond is really just a large small town. For Ledbury, it was Reid and Evan from our creative team who grew out their hair, stopped shaving, and lent their acting talents to Spielberg. Reid and Evan sat down to talk about the three weeks they served as extras and share some experiences from behind the scenes. Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
Evan: Although they had already started filming, I saw a post online that they were still looking for extras for the film. I remember saying to Reid that we should send our pictures in. So I took a picture of Reid, and Reid took a picture of me and sent them in. I feel like I hit send on the email at 2:45 and by 3:00 my phone rang, and they asked if I could be there tomorrow.
Reid: I was on the other side of our office thinking, ‘Well surely my phone is going to ring anytime now.’ Two weeks later, still no phone call. I had recently shaved off my beard and got a hair cut before sending the head shots in the first time. Evan was already in training for the opening battle scene, and I didn’t think that I could hear one more story about it without giving it one more shot. I got my phone out and snapped a #selfie and defiantly sent in another head shot. This time I let them know that my hair grows out really fast. They called me back shorty after and invited me to come out the next day.
Reid: The difference between Evan’s and my roles in the movie is that Evan had multiple roles throughout the film as a Confederate soldier and he got one really strong cameo. My time in the film is spread out across a couple of scenes in a couple different roles.
Evan: The epic shot that I happen to randomly be in is great because the camera stops on my face and people know it’s me. For all of Reid’s scenes, it helps to know that it’s him and where he is in the shot.
Reid: We were talking about it the day that they shot Evan’s “dead face,” how arbitrary it was to get selected for a major shot.
Evan: They needed eight Confederate soldiers to the front, so they pointed at eight of us to lay down and be dead. A lot of guys were laying face down or away from the camera. I was all like, “Naw. . .” So I got into position facing the camera. There was a line of guys, and Spielberg himself was walking down the line stopping at each person to dump more blood and gore onto each person. He gets to me and just tells me to face the camera more and to leave my eyes open. It was really uncomfortable but that’s how they got the shot.
Reid: By this time, I had been in the same scenes with Evan as both a Union Zouave soldier and a Confederate soldier. I thought that I was done, but a couple weeks later I received a phone call asking if I had shaved or cut my hair.
Evan: It was kind of an unspoken thing that nobody shaved after they left because they were still filming and you never knew when they might call to ask you to come back for something.
Reid: Casting told me that they had a big White House reception scene to shoot and asked if I wanted to be a Union general. So I went back through the process of going in to get fitted as a general. On set, in a strange way, it started to feel like it was actually the military. When I walked outin the general’s attire in front of a line of infantrymen, there would be moments of recognition from the Union soldiers.
Evan: Yeah, you could even see a natural stratification at lunch. Reid and the other generals had mustaches and were much older than the younger guys that were still in high school. If we were waiting in line to get something to eat, the generals would walk right through and the younger soldiers would clear the way. Everyone would think that the generals were higher up because they were in different uniforms, but everyone was the same realistically.
Reid: The thing that was so strange for us is that we only saw the top actors from a distance most of the time. The first time that any of us had been up close to any of those guys was when we filmed the White House reception scene. It was such a significant cast of people that it was a little overwhelming.
Evan: Daniel Day-Lewis had a stand in when they set up many of the scenes that I was in on the battlefield. During most of the shooting, the top guys would be off in a tent and would come out only when needed to walk through.
Reid: Daniel Day-Lewis couldn’t have been more polite but he was so intimidating at the White House reception scene. Not just Daniel Day-Lewis but as Lincoln, Bill the Butcher, and the other characters that he’s carrying around with him. There was a real intensity about it.
When I saw Lincoln in theaters last fall, I spent more time scanning the screen for familiar faces than I did paying attention to the film. On one of the final scenes of the movie, Lincoln rides through a recently fought battle and surveys the loss. The camera pans the battlefield and stops on Evan’s dead face before slowly fading into the next scene. Although this is an epic scene in the movie, it is difficult to not laugh a little because it was Evan’s face projected the big screen.
This may be the beginning of a new career for the pair; who knows where they may happen to appear next.
*Photographs of Reid and Evan from behind the scenes of Lincoln.