Although it isn’t a written rule, an “extra”—a background player in a movie or TV show—usually has no spoken lines. If a line, or a few lines, are spoken, the person is often referred to as a “bit player” instead of an extra. (If a major star or a “known” actor is an extra in a movie, their non-speaking appearance is called a “cameo.”)
The famous people listed below all made one or more appearances as movie extras before they went on to bigger and better things.
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Sylvester Stallone was an extra in Woody Allen's 1971 film Bananas as a subway mugger. He was also an extra in Jane Fonda's 1971 psychological thriller, Klute, as a disco patron (uncredited).
In the 1950s, Clint Eastwood was actually an eager member of Central Casting. He was an uncredited extra in several films before breaking into leading man roles.
At the young age of 13, Phil Collins was an extra in the audience, cheering and screaming for the Beatles, in their first film, A Hard Day's Night, in 1964. (Phil wasn't shown in the actual film.)
Another interesting extra in A Hard Day's Night was model Patti Boyd, who met George Harrison while filming the movie, became his girlfriend, and married him two years later, in 1966.
At age 19, Noël Coward was an extra in Hearts of the World, a 1918 D.W. Griffith silent film.
A 22-year-old Ayn Rand was an extra in Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 silent film, The King of Kings.
Renée Zellweger was an extra, playing one of the hazed freshman girls, in 1993′s Dazed and Confused.
In the 1920s, John Wayne was an extra in several silent films before his first starring role in 1930′s The Big Trail.
Clark Gable was also an extra in several 1920s silents, including Erich von Stroheim's The Merry Widow.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (not pictured) were extras for the Fenway Park scenes in Field of Dreams (1989).
As a teenager, Jackie Chan was an extra in two Bruce Lee films: Fists of Fury (1971) and Enter the Dragon (1973).
Jean Harlow (and her mother) was an extra in several silent films in the late 1920s, when she was in her late teens.
Look carefully and you'll spot Bruce Willis as an extra in the courtroom scene of Paul Newman's 1981 film, The Verdict.
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