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Local Gringo Gets Job on Movie Set, Gringo Gazette (Mexico), September 22, 2003
typed by Jan at ka-Bloom

And gives us the inside scoop on what’s going on out there

By Scott Parsons

My first day on the set, I was as nervous as a pickpocket at a policeman’s ball, but it was actually pretty uneventful. The cameras are set up on the Trojan/Greek battlefield and are shooting directly toward the gates and wall of Troy. The nobles’ terrace is reached by climbing 70 steps on heavy duty scaffolding with a highly secured safety guardrail. The King’s terrace consists of a 20 foot by 30 foot nobles’ area with a porte cochere made of a richly colored dark blue tapestry with tassels covering the throne area.

Here, Helen, King Priam and Andromache sat with the nobles standing behind them on either side. This was known as position number one. The camera’s angle must be the same for each person.

The second day was highly eventful as we got to interact with the real actors and their stand-ins in front of a $350,000 movie camera. Fully mechanized and automated, this camera takes four men just to lift it on its highly mobile tracking dolly. With the head cameraman, Roger Pratt, sitting in the camera seat, it would go back and forth at various speeds until the desired affect was achieved. Now this was very exciting, the director, his associates and a cameraman all telling us how to sit, which direction to look, and what pose to strike. Finally we were acting, or at least going through the motions as there, of course, was no film being shot. Some called it play acting, but for me in my mind, it was the real deal. Measurements from our faces to the camera lens were carefully taken and noted and then it was only a short time before the stars took our places.

First Helen, played by Diane Kruger, sat down to my right – she is a drop dead gorgeous blonde with an angelic look, vacillating between Grace Kelly and Gwenyth Paltrow. Next, Andromache, played by Saffron Burrows, sat down to my left. She’s a tall, leggy brunette with dark brown smoldering eyes like Jane Russell. I chatted her up for a few minutes until the cameraman cleared his throat (hrmmph) and said, “Scott, you’ll have to get up now.” I turned away from those enticing brown eyes and low and behold, there was King Priam, to be played by Peter O’Toole, standing just two feet in front of me waiting to sit down in my place! I quickly stood up and gestured with a sweep of my right hand to the throne, saying “Peter, I’ve kept your throne warm for you.” He shook my right hand and said, “Why, thank you my good man.” I was very impressed and noticed that Peter looks pretty much the same as he did in his breakthrough film, Lawrence of Arabia, shot nearly 40 years ago. A man in the robust prime of his life, he still has a sparkle in those deep blue piercing eyes. When he shook hands with me, I was surprised by his grip; it felt like a man holding onto a life preserver off the Titanic. It was quite a treat to watch this great actor perform. He has an interesting habit of making a loud lion-like roar just before the cameras would roll.

I can remember one line that he said that went something like this, “I have dreaded this day coming, for all of my life.” Helen responds with sadness and regret as she watches the man she loves, Paris (played by Orlando Bloom) in deep battle with her husband Menelaus (played by Brendan Gleeson). The set crackled with the electricity of the moment and, as usual, about four takes were done to assure the highest emotion was captured on celluloid.

In another scene, which involved both actresses holding onto the King’s hand, it was determined that his face would never come into camera view so I would be used. I got to hold hands with two beauties. The director, Wolfgang Petersen, slowly talked each actress through each segment of the filming, which was being shot without any dialog, to bring forth the emotions on their faces for the cameras. With Diane, I could literally feel the electricity coming through her fingers and rushing down my forearm. With Saffron, she really pushed the envelope involving emotions. Peterson talked her through the battle scene and then asked her, “How was that for you?” She replied, “Wolfgang, you’re fantastic,” and she said “Print it.” I looked over to her and said, “I smell Academy Awards.”

We were on the set from about 6 in the morning till 6:30 at night, Monday through Saturday with Sundays always off. But despite the 12-hour days, it was very, very easy work. Many of the extras were bored and took cat naps between scenes, some sprawling out on the nobles’ terrace area until called to take their positions. I figured Warner Brothers was not paying me for sack time, so I stayed awake.

The British actors and crew were awesome, just as nice as nice can be. I spoke to no dunces or dorks – these folks were sharp as tacks and at the top of their game. I got a great tan, gained a few pounds, and earned $2,700 for which I am most grateful.