5 Ways to Know if You Are An Expendable Character

Expendables Cast

Wikimedia Commons; by rwoan
Wikimedia Commons; by rwoan

Are You an A-lister?

It is so tough to make it in Hollywood. I don't speak from experience, but I think most people would agree that it is not easy to become an A-list movie star in Hollywood. I hear it is a cut-throat business, and you've got to work hard to make a name for yourself.

Why do you think that every waiter and waitress is an aspiring actor? It is a tough industry, and very few actually receive a call back from a movie producer.

With the sequel movie The Expendables 2 out in theaters, it is very fitting to define what makes a person expendable. How can the average actor even get recognized in a movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, and Jean-Claude Van Damme?

The answer is: You can't.

There is one thing I can tell you: If you aren't the lead in a movie, there is a possibility that you are expendable. Read the following list to find out if you qualify as a throwaway character.

Sylvester Stallone

Wikimedia Commons; by Towpilot
Wikimedia Commons; by Towpilot

Arnold Schwartzenegger

Wikimedia Commons; by Stefanie Broughton
Wikimedia Commons; by Stefanie Broughton

5 Ways to Know That You Are Expendable

The following ways indicate if you are truly expendable:

  1. Your character is assigned a red shirt. If you don't believe me, watch the latest Star Trek movie. The red shirt guy always dies. You might want to have this conversation with the costume designer to ensure your character's longevity. This point is so factual that there is even a Wikipedia entry for red shirt.
  2. Your character is not given a name. Instead of a real name your script reads "Crewman #1," but it might as well say "expendable character #1." This is reinforced if you watch the movie, Galaxy Quest. If they didn't even bother to give you a name, the outlook is not so good for you in future movies.
  3. Your movie salary is paid per hour. Most A-list movie stars have agents, and have the terms of the movie negotiated beforehand. If you sign up and are paid by the hour, this means they don't know how long your character will last. Chances are you will not make it halfway through the movie, let alone any sequels (unless a flashback is needed). Guess what? Toto in the Wizard of Oz was paid more than the Lollipop Kids, but life isn't always fair. Those lollipops were licked once and tossed out before Dorothy could tap her sparkling slippers and say: "There is no place like home."
  4. When the cast breaks for lunch, the security on the set make you eat with the extras. The stunt doubles as least look like the movie stars, but you don't even have the name recognition. One day, you'll catch a break.
  5. Your name does not make the credits. The movie studio rationalizes that it just costs too much to add your name to the credits. Oh well. As long as you are listed in the movie at IMDB, that's all that matters, right? If the movie credits won't vouch for you, don't expect the big movie stars to, either.

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