Holy Wannabes! It's Batman tryout

Wanted: all types for Caped Crusader caper

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John Garrett didn't have superhero qualities to set him apart from the thousands of other would-be extras who turned out for the first Batman casting call Saturday, so the North Sider had to rely on more modest credentials.

"I'm hoping my tattoos help me stand out," he said, revealing the Joker on one muscled arm and Harley Quinn, the Joker's accomplice, on the other.

In all, about 2,000 people are needed to play police officers, bad guys, prisoners, guards and honest citizens in "The Dark Knight Rises," which will be filmed in Pittsburgh later this summer. The pay is $58 for each eight-hour day, with extra money for longer hours if necessary.

No extras are being hired on the spot. The open casting call continues at the Omni William Penn hotel from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. today, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. next Sunday. Potential extras must be 18 or older and have a valid Social Security number and be legally permitted to work in the United States. Bring a photo ID such as a driver's license or state or student ID.


Saturday's call drew people of all ages and backgrounds. Some considered the 1989 Batman movie starring Michael Keaton old, while those who remember the 1960s television series starring Adam West didn't think the Keaton flick dated at all.

Mr. Garrett, a bank teller, turned out to indulge his lifelong love of the Caped Crusader. Mandy Garrett, a nursing student, was there to indulge her husband. Others showed up because they're film industry groupies or testing their boundaries.

"You never know what's going to happen," Kenneth Rubinoski, a Kennedy resident who described himself as an expert in hand-to-hand combat, said.

At 12:30 pm., Mr. Rubinoski was standing at Smithfield Street and Sixth Avenue, the very last in a line of hopefuls that stretched up Sixth to Grant Street and then along Grant to Oliver Avenue and a side entrance of the Omni William Penn. A limo at the curb and patch of red carpet at the door offered hints of Hollywood.

Inside, the hopefuls were gathered in groups of 500 to hear about the opportunities available to them and the production company's requirements. They were photographed, given forms to fill out and sent on their way.

"It's a great turnout," said Nancy Mosser, whose Lawrenceville casting agency is working on the movie. "There's a lot of men, which we need. It's exactly what we're looking for."

By 3:30 p.m., the casting crew already had about 2,000 applicants. Of particular interest were those with special skills, such as construction or nursing, or those cutting a certain figure.

"It's military types, police types ... clean-cut and in good shape," Ms. Mosser said.

Wexford resident Greg Waldfogle might have a chance then. "I just got out of the Army, so I want to do something crazy -- crazier than Afghanistan," he said.

Mark Donoghue was prepared to adopt a prisoner's voice and threaten to "shank" someone -- "got to shock them a little bit, so they remember you," he said -- but the casting folks allotted no time for individual performances.

Mr. Donoghue, an information technology specialist from South Park, has been an extra in seven movies, including "Love and Other Drugs," "The Mothman Prophecies" and "She's Out of My League." During filming of "Mothman," he said, he spent several minutes in pleasant conversation with a person he believed to be Richard Gere but who turned out to be the actor's double.

"I just enjoy the action, the sets, seeing how they set up for scenes and do the shots. I like seeing different stars," said Mr. Donoghue, who brought his 18-year-old twin sons, Joe and Sean, and a resume in which he listed his credits, gave his measurements and declared a willingness to dye his hair, if necessary.

While it's never clear what catches the hiring manager's eye, Mr. Donoghue likes to emphasize his experience. "I'm consistent. I know what the rules are," such as not speaking to the stars unless they initiate the conversation, he said.

Greg Trout, a software developer from Mt. Lebanon, took the movie's need for prisoners to heart. He wore an orange jumpsuit that said "Department of Corrections." Despite the heat, he had on a black skullcap, too.

"I ordered it on Amazon and chose one-day shipping," he said of the jumpsuit. "Here I am."

If he's on screen for even a moment, Mr. Trout said, it will be something to tell his kids one day.

For Donora resident Vasco Mucci, an appearance in Batman would be an extension of his own work as a documentary maker.

He said he fancied a role as drummer or guitarist. Young, with lots of wavy black hair, Mr. Mucci looked the part.

Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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