Xander Berkeley. Zeljko Ivanek. Timothy Omundson. Bruce Davison. Wade Williams. If you know any of these names, then you’re virtually guaranteed to have a great time with this documentary – and even if you don’t, you will have 16 different shocks of recognition as those guys and the rest of the cast tell you exactly what it’s like to be a working character actor in Hollywood.
“That Guy” is a phenomenon in many homes, where you sit and watch a show or a movie and the best friend, or that week’s villain, or the lawyer, is played by one of those guys you’ve seen in a ton of other things…only you don’t remember his name, and thus this film’s title.
It’s broken down, roughly, into several sections – so you’ll get them talking about how they get recognised on the street (often with a faintly puzzled air); their families (most come from non-acting backgrounds); about how much they hate auditions and that whole process; then onto the actual process of making a show; what to do with all the downtime you have; how you deal with your friends having success; the worst jobs you’ve ever had; the financial insecurity of being a character actor; and, weirdly, how nearly all of them have been in “Star Trek”, often on multiple occasions.
They’re all pretty smart, so you’ll get a lot of interesting thoughts from people who’ve been inside the belly of the beast. Omundson, on studying something else to fall back on: “If I have something to fall back on, I’ll fall back on it”, plus Wade Williams has a master’s degree in teaching acting so he’s very wise to every aspect of the process. My favourite story of them all was JC McKenzie talking about a film he’d done several years previously, and how he’d been treated very badly by a former TV star turned super-diva. At that point, I paused the movie and went to IMDB, and my best bet would be Katie Holmes for the identity of his unnamed villain. That and trying to figure out what the book was that Robert Joy had like 15 identical copies of behind his head adds a whole other layer of detective work!
By the end of this, you’ll have heard at least three stories you want to immediately go out and tell someone, you’ll have laughed a fair few times and you’ll definitely have a new-found respect for That Guy guys. A really interesting documentary about 16 interesting people.
Rating: thumbs up