Springfield hospital aide gets taste of Hollywood Orderly chosen to play one in film

October 10, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

After six minutes in an untitled movie, a star is born in Flohrville.

Hollywood discovered Ottis L. Roebuck on the job at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville.

"I didn't know jack about acting, but I got a chance," said Mr. Roebuck, 42.

He fears he may be typecast. In two of his three scenes, the man who has worked as a hospital aide for 25 years played an orderly.

"They asked me if I could sit in the day hall with patients," he said. "That's what I do."

The brief movie career began as a dare from co-workers.

When the film crew came to the Sykesville hospital last month to shoot an as-yet-untitled mystery movie, they put out a cast call.

Memos circulated at the hospital's various work stations, and Mr. Roebuck picked one up at the nurses' station in the McKeldin Building.

"We all said, 'If you go, I'll go,' " he said. "I figured I would break the camera."

His reddish-brown hair and beard and soft blue eyes must have appealed to the casting agent. He landed a part as an orderly.

"They were looking for types, and I guess I was the right type," he said with a laugh.

Acting the role was a snap, he said.

No lines accompanied his bit part but he did lip-sync greetings to "hospital employees" played by Richard Dreyfuss and John Lithgow.

"He was so excited, he must have called us 30 times the day they filmed him," said Robin Roebuck, his daughter.

He may just leave their Flohrville home and dive into the Hollywood scene, she said with a laugh.

"Soon he will be walking around saying, 'Let's do lunch, babe,' " she said.

A single film session eliminated initial camera-shyness.

"When they asked about another part, I said I can do anything," he said.

So he became sheriff for the day. Playing that part professionally earned him a third stint before of the camera: as another orderly.

Even if all three of his two-minute bits fall to the cutting room floor, he said, he is pleased with his debut and the company he kept.

"They had extras from all over," he said. "I was in the company of professionals."

Mingling with the friendly glitterati made his day.

"They could have kept the $99-a-day pay, I had such a good time," he said.

Crews actually say "roll 'em" and "action" and carry signs to click off the scenes, he said.

He watched much of the action from behind the scenes.

"They didn't care, as long as I kept quiet," he said. "That was the most fun, watching the actors loosen up and make cracks."

After viewing hours of filming in the Lane Building, a solid brick structure without air conditioning, he said, "Actors really earn their money."

Since he is on a first-name basis with "Richard and John," he managed a private photo shoot.

Close-ups with a smiling Mr. Dreyfuss and grinning Mr. Lithgow will go into for the Roebuck family album.

"I had to reach up to put my hand around John's shoulder," he said. "Richard was more my size."

The company will return for a one-day shoot next month, but Mr. Roebuck said he knows his star days are over.

Still, the patients on his ward are calling him "Mr. Star" and asking for his autograph.

He might not get top billing when the film premieres next spring, but "that's one movie I am going to buy," he said.

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