published Thursday, December 12th, 2013

City Beat: ‘42’ proving extra special for Gary Miller

Gary Miller’s film credits are fairly impressive even if you have to have pretty sharp eyes to catch him on-screen.

Miller, known to many in town for his umpiring work, was “Umpire Five” in the “42” movie filmed in large part at Engel Stadium. He made several contacts during the lengthy filming process, and while attending the premiere in Atlanta, he had a very brief — “maybe 30 seconds” — conversation with casting director Victoria Thomas. She sent him a text at 4 the next morning, asking if he could be in Atlanta two weeks later to be a featured extra in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” which opens Dec. 20.

Miller spent two days in Atlanta with an hour and 15 minutes of each day sitting in a chair getting sideburns and other makeup put on. His main role was to stand perfectly still while star Will Ferrell ad-libbed 10 or 12 takes inches from Miller’s face.

“He was so close, and the camera was down low to my left,” Miller says. “My role was to stare straight ahead and look stern. Will would stick his face right next to mine and ad-lib, and I had to not crack up.”

Making the moment even better was that Miller was wearing his own clothes, purchased in 1973.

“The costume people on ‘Anchorman 2’ went bananas over my stuff, not believing what good shape they were in but also laughing that it was amazing I could still fit into them 40 years later.”

Miller also is one of the newsroom reporters in another scene and can be seen in his canary yellow sports coat at the 19-second mark of the current trailer.

He and fellow local umpire and “42” extra Wayne Hickey were also extras in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which also filmed in Atlanta. Miller wears an eye patch in the film and portrays a black-market vendor.

They were originally just two of 300 extras in the back of a crowd during a mob scene, but out of the blue they heard someone yelling their names. It was Ben White, who had been an assistant director on “42.” He moved them to the front of the crowd, where they got a little bit of face time on-screen.

Miller said of the three sets he’s now been on, “42” was by far the most laid-back and open. Both “Anchorman 2” and “Hunger Games” were closed and restrictive and went so far as to use code words in correspondence.

Wrong on oh so many levels: I saw a bumper sticker the other day that read “Proud of My Granddogs.”

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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