Auditions lure people from many walks of life

Movie hopefuls line up at harbor

August 27, 2004|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,SUN STAFF

Just another day in downtown Baltimore - decorated with two city blocks of ersatz skinheads, prisoners, gangsters, SWAT team members, commandos, farm hands, dog walkers, reporters, secret agent men and hoochy women. Not your American Idol crowd, bud.

"It seems in D.C., we got all the pretty people," said Carlyn Davis. "But in Baltimore, people are so real."

Davis' casting company, having already trolled for talent in Washington, came to Baltimore's ESPN Zone yesterday to find 1,600 extras for the action movie, XXX State of the Union. The sequel to the 2002 hit XXX will be filmed in Baltimore and Washington beginning next month. The movie will not again star Vin Diesel but rather feature Willem Dafoe, Samuel L. Jackson and Ice Cube.

Diesel's absence didn't affect the funky throng of aspiring movie extras that lined Pratt Street. It's summer, it's hot, why not stand in line to be an extra in an action movie? What else are you going to do downtown - the balloon and the Orioles aren't going anywhere.

So, they came with their tattoos, their babies, their parents, their piercings and their pierced parents. They came for the fun of it. And they all filled out The Form: Do you own a tuxedo? Will you shave your beard for the role? Can you play a senator, jogger, bike courier - or hoochy woman?

What exactly is a hoochy woman? Think dancers in rap videos.

"It's not a hooker," said Constance Watts, a 24-year-old from Annapolis. She works in town at Gold's Gym as - let's see if we get this right - a strip tease aerobics instructor. A hoochy woman role might not be a stretch. She checked the box on the form. "I could be one."

Inside the ESPN Zone, casting director Davis greeted every potential extra as if they were the next Vin Diesel. A tattooed, pierced, polite young man named Michael Conner stepped up to the table. He didn't have to say a thing. He just had to be.

"You're the best!" she beamed. He would be great for the film's prison or chop shop scenes. "Tell me you're available all the time!" He said he was.

An extra was born.

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