September 19, 2000
The Excitement of
Getting The Call
When I was about seven years old I was chosen to take part in a nativity play at my village school.
I was both delighted and fearful. I'd never been selected to appear in public before but this was my big chance to tread the hallowed boards and I meant to make the most of it.
I lay awake for several nights wondering whether my teacher, Miss Spray, would pick me to be Joseph or one of the three Wise Men. I rather fancied being one of the latter, carrying gold, frankincense or myrrh, although I didn't know what the two latter substances were.
I had a vague idea there was a film doing the rounds called The Curse of Frankincense, something to do with a man made up of varying body parts, but myrrh was a complete mystery to me. It sounded like something like a cat suffering from catarrh.
However, when the casting came about I was doomed to deep disappointment. I was one of several in a crowd scene. I didn't have a speaking part at all. I'd sooner have been a shepherd, or even one of their sheep. At least they got to say "baaa".
So that was the beginning and the end of my career in drama - a bit role, wearing a tea towel around my head and gawking vacantly at a doll in a manger.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was recently when two younger members of our household were selected to be extras in the filming of The Lord of the Rings. (For reasons that will be explained later, the children will be referred to only as A and B).
A was the first to get The Call, much to the chagrin of her younger brother. Both had been for interviews but it was A who was asked to go to Methven for fitting.
Given my own extremely brief flirtation with the theatre, I was keen to hear every detail of what was involved, but I was to be disappointed. Child A wouldn't tell me a thing.
She wasn't just picking on me though. Apparently security at The Lord of the Rings set-up is extremely tight and even extras are sworn to absolute secrecy. A wasn't allowed to tell us what she did, what part she's playing or even what she's wearing. And because there are four journalists in the family, she wouldn't breathe a word.
I immediately jumped to the conclusion that she had been cast as a hideous orc but was too embarrassed to say so, but her mother assured me that her reluctance to elaborate was indeed due only to the tight security surrounding the film.
As you can imagine, her younger brother was by this time feeling his nose was really out of joint, but last week he, too, received The Call.
He doesn't have to go for a fitting prior to filming, which enabled me to tease him that he was typecast as a troll and didn't need makeup. B wasn't impressed but he was too thrilled at being chosen to take part in a multi-million-dollar film to attempt immediate revenge.
Whatever roles the children have been called upon to play, I just hope it doesn't involve map reading. On the way back from the fitting session in Methven, their mother attempted to take a shortcut off State Highway One on to the back roads. After turning off at Hinds she travelled a good number of kilometres before turning up ... back on SH1.
As I've a strong feeling that poor navigation is genetic, I just hope Peter Jackson hasn't cast either of them as Frodo, leading the way to the Cracks of Doom, or the Fellowship will probably finish up lost in Mirkwood, never to be seen again.
Still it could be worse. Even as extras, I'm sure A and B will have costumes that will be much more elaborate than the teatowel that was my sole concession to Jewish national dress.
However, I live in hope that my acting aspirations are not completely dead. I'm waiting for the film-makers to do a remake of The Curse of Frankincense.