Before I begin, let me just tell you that it was quite a pain getting these pictures for you — I had to rent The Dark Knight on my Netflix (even though I’ve already seen it a few times), I had to get it loaded up on my laptop (apparently the DVD drive in my Mac is dying and/or already dead), I had to find a screen capture program that could capture these pics (surprisingly hard — no one wants you capturing images from movies, apparently), and I had to upload these things and put them all in the right format and places.
But it will be all worth it when I tell you why: I was in the greatest Batman movie ever made. Maybe.
I don’t mean that it might be the greatest Batman movie ever made — though Batman Returns will always be my favorite Batman movie, and though the 1966 version will always have a place in my heart, The Dark Knight is definitely the greatest Batman movie ever made so far. But “maybe,” because I worked, for one day, as an extra on The Dark Knight when they were filming here in Chicago. And when I went to see it for the first time, I hoped that I was in there. I hoped they hadn’t left me on the cutting floor.
I went to work as an extra for a charity here in Chicago — we volunteers would work as extras, and then instead of paying us the extra money ($100 a day, I believe), they’d give it to the charity. Good for them, and fun for me. So on a day two Augusts ago — I think that’s when it was; I know it was summer — I dressed up in my finest winter clothes and went downtown.
They were filming the police funeral scene (no major spoilers but I hope you have seen the movie already). We weren’t on camera for the actual funeral attack part (the Joker and his guys break things up), but we were hanging out waiting for our shot way, way past camera. Here’s the beginning of the scene I was in.
Note that when I write “me” on that picture with my little pretend telestrator, I don’t mean that I’m one of the cops — I believe those guys were real off-duty Chicago police. No, I mean I was way, way in back — back near the end of the block, standing in the middle of summer in our winter coats for about three hours waiting for our shot. We were nowhere near the cameras, but we could see all the to-doing, all of the cops, all of the podium activity (I could barely make out Nestor Carbonell, who most will know as Richard Alpert but whom I remember fondly as Batmanuel). Someone said they saw Gary Oldman, and I was excited, because he’s one of my favorite actors, but I never did see him.
Eventually they called us off to our shot. We were “background,” which meant that Christian Bale, as Batman, though not in costume, would ride through an alley across the street from us on his motorcycle. We’d be normal pedestrians, crossing back and forth way out of focus in the background. I wasn’t sure why they wouldn’t just use actual pedestrians, but then I realized that real pedestrians would probably stop and stare at a flashy red motorcycle driving through an alley. I thought for a moment about being a method actor and doing exactly that, but decided it would rock the boat — they told me to walk back and forth and so I did.
Here’s Christian Bale riding the motorcycle in the movie (or at least someone who looks like him — I never actually saw him, though I did see the bike pull in).
You can see us moving around in the back there — we’re all actors, including the cop. You can’t actually see me in that shot, but I thought, upon first viewing of the movie, that I could see myself in the film.
I had my black coat on and my gray driving cap, and was carrying a black briefcase. A few seconds later, just as Bale heads into the building, I thought, for just a moment, that I was the one stepping out into view behind him.
I thought that was me back behind him. You can tell that the person has a lighter part on top of their head, and I thought that was my cap. You can also see that they’re carrying something black, and I thought that was my briefcase.
I was very excited about this the first time I saw it, and I left the theater telling everyone that even though it was blurry, in the background, and only for half a second, that I actually appeared in The Dark Knight.
And I’d still like to believe that’s true. But it’s not.
While getting these pictures for you, I paused the movie right there, and slowed it down to see who exactly that was stepping across at that exact moment.
And it wasn’t me.
It’s a lady, actually. She’s wearing a red coat, and I remember her at the shoot. I don’t remember if she was a volunteer with us or not, but I hope that she cared enough to do exactly this and squealed with delight when she paused the film, stepped forward frame by frame, and finally found herself, starring as an uncredited blur in the background, on screen with Batman.
I think I’ll probably tell people that I was in the movie anyway. They shot a lot around Chicago. I was probably in there somewhere.