The Bigger Picture
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The Bigger Picture

I Starred in a Movie with Matthew McConaughey & All I Got Was a Piece of Gum

pon moving to L.A., my first order of business was to get a SAG card. SAG jobs (those are the good jobs, as opposed to non-union jobs) tended to go to people already in SAG, so it seemed essential to join the union. I had heard from many other aspiring actors that it was possible to get a SAG card by becoming an extra and receiving three waivers. So, I signed up for every website, mailing list, and what have you, for even the remote possibility of a SAG job.

A week later, I received an email regarding a production company casting for short people (I’m 5'1). Apparently, it was a movie about dwarves, and they were having a majorly tough time finding enough dwarves to fill the scene. Technically they were looking for people 5'0 and under, but I figured an inch or two wouldn’t kill anyone. So, I lied about the extra inch and emailed the casting director, telling them I would be perfect as an extra as I am 5'0 and Indian. I was positive they didn’t have any Indian dwarves in the scene, so I figured I would add an exotic flavor. The casting director obviously thought so, too, because he called a week later to tell me I was in. And after a little weaseling and negotiating, I even got him to agree to give me three SAG waivers so I could get a SAG card. I was going to be a star!

I showed up on set thinking we would be filming some dumb ass David Spade movie, so imagine my surprise and delight when I saw the tight tuckus of Matthew McConaughey walking by. He was every bit as gorg as he was on film. And he was nice. He even gave me a piece of gum after he overheard me asking another extra for some minty refreshment. I thought about saving the gum but realized that might make me seem like some sort of whack job. So instead, I chewed the gum and discretely put it back in its wrapper. It eventually ended up on my bedroom dresser, where it remained for years. I thought about dipping it in gold and making it into a necklace, but I realized then his cooties would no longer be on it.

I was hoping he would fall in love with me and leave Sandra Bullock or Ashley Judd or whatever starlet he was dating. I imagined us together on the beach, him playing the bongos shirtless while I played my tambourine. I had never played the tambourine, but I had watched enough episodes of “Josie and the Pussycats” to know-how. Sadly, Matthew didn’t break up with his girlfriend or fall in love with me.

But the biggest problem was the plot. I don’t know what kind of dingbat came up with this one, but it was a hot mess. First of all, they were billing it as a drama, something I still have a hard time accepting. Matthew McConaughey and Kate Beckinsale play a couple with a deep, dark secret. Dwarfism runs in Matthew’s family. He had a dwarf brother played by Gary Oldman, who played the character on his knees the entire time (I can’t tell you how weird it is to watch Gary Oldman walking around his knees).

Matthew was reluctant to have children should they come out as little people. However, Kate got knocked up, and out came a dwarf. Their relationship quickly disintegrated, and then in a real asshole move, Matthew hightailed it out of there. Kate then runs off with Gary. Gary and Kate meet up with this other couple, played by Patricia Arquette, and a dwarf French person, played by Peter Dinklage. Gary and Kate then fall in love and live happily ever after. Oh, and in between it all, David Alan Grier[1] screws a porn little person that looks like Gwen Stefani.

Where was I in all of this madness? There was a party scene for the National Dwarves Association. Or at least I think that’s what it was, but honestly, I can’t even remember as I was so fucking tired. Since we were filming evening party scenes, the three-day shoot went from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. It was all fun and games until 2 a.m. when I started to get sleepy. We were in a massive house in Encino, and there were tons of nooks and crannies I could hide in. So I decided to take a nap behind some large potted plants upstairs. If I curled myself into a little ball, no one would be able to see me. I set my watch alarm to go off every 45 minutes just in case someone was looking for me.[2] I slept like a fucking lamb.

The best part of the job (besides the fact that MM gave me a piece of gum) was that I received three SAG waivers, so I could join the union. None of the other extras got them. For one very good reason; they didn’t ask. My actor friends told me not to ask for a waiver, much less three, because that was way too many, and I would never get one. But I didn’t see the point in being an extra unless I was getting something out of it. So, I asked. The casting director said they’d give me one. I responded by saying I wanted three. He did seem to think I was slightly nutso, but eventually, he caved. I was already on my way to becoming a high-maintenance demanding actress.

Turns out, all I had to do to get my SAG card was take a nap. Sadly, that was the only SAG job I ever did because I am a terrible actress. But I did learn a valuable lesson. Know your worth. In this case, my worth rested on the fact that I’m short, and due to a dwarf shortage, I had the producers by the balls. And don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Because someone else won’t be scared, and they’ll go after what they want while you’re at home, picking a wedgie and stuffing your face with organic, gluten-free corn chips from Trader Joe’s. Fear is an illusion. But unrealized dreams are real. And far scarier.

[1] Who by the way seemed pissed that he was filming such a crappy movie.

[2] Nobody gave a shit.

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Rachel Khona

Humor Writer @ Playboy, Allure, Marie Claire, The New York Times, Cosmo, WashPo. Follow IG: @rachelkhona