Acceptance speech for the Award for Best Background Performance

2012-12-05-honesty

 

Formerly published in The Other Press. Feb. 26 2013

As transcribed by Elliot Chan, The Extra Extra

Leonardo Deniro – Professional Background Performer

“Wow! Uhhh… Okay! Wow! I was so not expecting this. Wow! What an honour. When my agent first called and told me to show up on set, I did not know I was going to be playing such an amazing role. Unfortunate Bystander Number Four was an extraordinary exploration into the human dynamic; it has changed my life—so I would like to thank my agency, Meat Prop Inc., for giving me such a fabulous opportunity.”

(Pauses for a moment of introspection)

“Secondly, I would like to thank God for giving me a human body. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to be such an exceptional background performer. Next, I would like to thank my beloved mother for teaching me to stand still and then move naturally when someone shouts “Action!” I thought you were crazy at first, mom, but…(Resisting the urge to cry) Mothers know best and you were preparing me for a gurgling life of following directions. Without you, I would not be so obedient. You gave me the cues for success. I love you.” (Breaks down, dramatically)

(Milks applause for several more seconds)

“Next I would like to thank my colleagues. Gosh, any of you could be up here tonight, accepting this award. Denzel Washington DC, you were simply brilliant as the man walking the dog in Zero Dark Thirty. And then there is Daniel Night-Lewis; you were truly inspirational as that orc in The Hobbit, my eyes just somehow seemed to go to you. Who said being M. Night Shyamalan’s relative is a career curse, huh? Spinoff, dude, imagine a television show called Orc! Finally, how can I forget about you, Tobey Maguire. Where have you been, dawg? That was an incredible performance as the elephant in Life of Pi—I know your scene on the boat got cut, but damn! Incredible. I really don’t deserve to be in such an illustrious company… but I’ll keep the award anyways.”

(Pause for insincere pompous laughter)

“Background actors often don’t get the respect they deserve, but it is an art form.”

(More laughter)

“Sure, we might not be as good-looking and we don’t end up in the credits or whatever, but that’s not the point. We are a valued part of the movie experience. Like sets, props, music, and costumes, we complete the film. Just because we’re blurry figures in the background doesn’t mean we aren’t working hard. We are some of the hardest working people in the industry. You think sitting in a tent for 16 hours is easy? You think waiting for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to say his lines is easy? No, can CGI characters do that? Fuck no! Sorry, I didn’t mean to cuss. (Fakes embarrassment) Bottom line is that there are a million background performers losing their jobs. Students coming out of background acting school with nothing, absolutely nothing, not even as a Walking Dead zombie part.”

(Music starts playing)

“Wait! Hold on, I’m not finished! (Pause) The industry is evolving and it is time for us, the background performers, to stick together and come to the foreground of the problem. We might be extras on set, but no more. We are the leading actors of our own lives. So thank you, the academy, for the recognition. Martin Scorsese, you are a legend! Thank you!”

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