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Commentaries on this Media!

Actors vs. Extras

by Kate Fortmueller

In season one Andy Millman has a discussion with several other extras about their work. The declaration “I’m an actor” recurs throughout multiple episodes and is always met with scoffs and reminders that he is “background.” Part of the humor from this line comes from the idea that defining oneself as an actor is somehow sufficient evidence to assume this vocation. The title of "actor" can be slippery in part because an actor’s status is largely understood based on intangible concerns, such as narrative function, cultural capital, and/or bankability rather than measurable on-set work. As the conversation progresses into a list of credits and a series of "one ups," this scene starts to produce a working definition of what constitutes work as an actor.

Extras (2005) - from "Ross Kemp"

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In this sequence Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais) debates his status as an "actor" with fellow extras.

from Extras (2005)
Creator: Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
Distributor: HBO Studios
Posted by Kate Fortmueller