30 Movie Extras That Ruined Scenes
All movies have the main cast and the extras, who, if they are all in sync, make the film a motion picture masterpiece.
Yet as with everything, there’s as much good as bad, and there’s no shortage of movies ruined by the extra actors who did not pull their weight in the pricey productions they were cast in.
Anticipating a Loud Bang
Alfred Hitchcock is undoubtedly one of the greatest directors of all time, so it’s surprising that he missed this blooper. North By Northwest is a film that is as thrilling as it is suspenseful, but the scene at Mount Rushmore’s visitor’s center takes away from its brilliance.
When everyone was wondering whether Eve would really shoot Cary Grant’s Roger Thornhill character, one of the kids on the set saw it coming, covering his ears five seconds before the action happened. Talk about a spoiler alert!
Distracted While in Character
Anyone who has watched Everything Must Go would agree that Will Ferrell delivered one of the most memorable performances of his career. Stepping away from his usual comedic characters, the actor plays a salesperson whose personal and professional life is falling apart.
In one scene, Ferrel meets with Delilah, an old friend from high school, and as they catch up, Delilah’s kids are snacking in the background. Weirdly, in one cut, the children are frozen, staring into space. That ruined the scene, and it was a tad distracting, to say the least.
Coach, How Could You?
Coach Carter, a film based on a true story, was brought to life by the legendary Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the lead role as a no-nonsense basketball coach for the Richmond High School varsity basketball team. Coach Carter is known to put academics before athletics, and when he cancels a big game because of his player’s bad grades, all hell breaks loose.
The rest of the school finds out, and as seen in this scene, one lad responds with unadulterated fury like he was given the role of a villain.
No Wonder They Can’t Shoot Straight
There are film mess-ups, then there’s the one in Star Wars: A New Hope. In the movie, a couple of stormtroopers track down R2-D2 and C-3PO on the Death Star, and when they’re entering the room where the droids are, one of the troopers hits his head on the bottom of the blast door.
That was quite clumsy, and the film had to be changed to accommodate the blooper. George Lucas added a “bonk” sound effect to the scene 27 years later when he remastered the movie for a special edition release.
Go Get 'Em, Ghostbusters
Not everyone has the knack for being unforgettable as a movie extra, and fans of Ghostbusters will vouch for that. Before the final face-off in an apartment building with Gozer, we spotted a particularly enthusiastic red-headed man cheering for the Ghostbusters’ victory.
The extra happens to be Eldo Ray Estes, a makeup artist who decades later won four Emmys for his incredible work on As the World Turns. We now know he was always meant to be noticed.
Look Who’s Cheering for the Breakdancers
Some movies in the ‘80s are better forgotten for a few reasons. Remember Breakin’ and its sequel Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo? Chances are you recall the latter for its meme-worthy scenes with questionable subtitles. Also, who can forget the person cast for a blink-and-you-miss-it role in one memorable scene?
The muscular man in a black singlet clapping to the beat in a dancing scene is Jean-Claude Van Damme. It was his first movie role as an uncredited extra.
She Cheered a Little Too Hard
The ‘80s classic Teen Wolf is a high-voltage high school drama with werewolves and the handsome Michael J Fox, who plays Scott Howard, at the center of it. It checked all the boxes for a blockbuster.
In one scene, Scott’s team wins a crucial basketball match, and everyone’s cheering. But, if you watch the background performers, you’ll spot a girl in the stands who cheers so hard that her pants become unzipped, and she spends the rest of the scene awkwardly trying to fix it.
There's Something Off About Doc's Kid
By the time Back to the Future Part III came out in 1990, many people had lost interest in the franchise, and those who wanted to board Doc Brown’s time-traveling train saw something they probably wished they could unsee.
In a scene when Doc introduces Marty to his sons, his youngest gestures for the camera to come closer and points his fingers lower. We can only assume what he meant by that, but what’s shocking is that the editing team actually kept it.
Third-Wheeling in a Tense Scene Between Two
Blending into the background is the only requirement of a movie extra, so this guy in Goodfellas must have missed the memo. He was as immersed in the tense moment between two pivotal characters played by Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro as the actors were.
What’s worse, he wasn’t supposed to look at the camera, but the man couldn’t get himself to do anything but that. Wasn’t the food on his table appetizing enough?
He Had His Priorities in Order
Star Wars is one of the most beloved Sci-Fi franchises in the world thanks to its impressive world-building and storytelling. That said, even this classic is not immune to interesting moments, as we saw earlier with A New Hope.
In one scene in The Empire Strikes Back, while everyone was evacuating the kids, one man was busy saving an ice cream machine. It was such an iconic moment that the man got an action figure and a compelling backstory.
Candy Makes Everything Better
The original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a cult classic that will never fade from history books. The movie had its fair share of highs and lows that left most kids in a flurry of emotions.
In one scene in the candy shop, a girl’s chin gets knocked when The Candy Man is lifting the counter hatch to let the children in. Luckily, she was barely injured and was mostly focused on getting the candy.
Making the Most Out of a Bad Day
War is a nasty business, and the Christopher Nolan movie Dunkirk shows just how gruesome combat can get. Every scene in this movie is both captivating and heart-wrenching. Well, every scene except this one.
If you have an eye for details, you might have noticed a cheeky extra smiling during a pensive moment. Depending on how you perceive it, this might be a genius moment considering how different people react to tense moments. Even so, Nolan didn’t appreciate this, and he scrubbed him off the digital release.
An Extra Breaks The Fourth Wall
Not only is 10 Things I Hate About You an epic retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew but also the movie that showcased Heath Ledger’s potential. Nonetheless, one scene had an extra act out of character.
A woman was asked to go get help for the injured coach, but instead of making haste and getting off-screen, she stopped mid-walk and stared directly at the camera. It was an odd blooper that had fans wondering what her deal was
Try To Look Busy
In Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig gave Bond the missing edge that classic fans had been itching for. It was an action-packed thriller that made everyone feel the tension and dread the consequences of failure.
This feeling probably came from the acting team as evidenced by this extra who wanted to show he was working. The man swept a chunk of air leaving fans in giggles in an otherwise serious scene.
They Probably Could Have Used More Direction
Tommy Wiseau’s infamous cult classic The Room is known for its over-the-top bad acting, and the extras are no exception.
In one scene, Lisa’s mother is seen walking into a room, saying “Hello” to no one in particular, then standing awkwardly with a deadpan expression. Meanwhile, a man is seen talking to himself in the background, gesturing as if having a deep conversation with an unseen person.
Laughter in the Coronation
Despite their majestic nature, fantasy films are not immune to bad extras. For example, in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, an extra behind Arwen and Elrond can be seen laughing awkwardly for no apparent reason during Aragorn’s coronation, breaking the solemnity of the scene.
It’s a moment that’s hard to ignore, even amid the grandeur of the epic conclusion to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
A Moment of Silence
Patton Oswalt, best known for his role as Doug’s friend Spence on The King of Queens, is no stranger to being an extra. Yet, in one episode, Oswalt took his role as an extra to a whole new level.
During Doug’s 40th birthday celebration, Oswalt appeared in the background, motionless and with a deadpan expression for a full minute. Despite his lack of lines, Oswalt’s memorable appearance proves that sometimes the smallest details can make the most significant impact in a scene.
A Glaring Continuity Error
Even in sports movies, extras can make big mistakes, such as the continuity error in Wildcats. The film features an African-American player wearing gloves during a game, who, after taking a hard hit, suddenly stands up as a white player without gloves.
This mistake takes the viewer out of the moment and ruins the continuity of the scene. Despite this, the film remains a classic and an important milestone for both Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.
A Cat on a Revenge Mission
In the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice, Blofeld’s villainous image is solidified by his iconic white cat. The feline’s catty behavior overshadows the scene of the secret volcanic base exploding in the background.
As Blofeld pets the cat, it scratches his arm, causing him visible discomfort. This moment reminds us that cats are always going to be cats, even in the world of James Bond.
Laughable Kung Fu
It’s general knowledge that Bruce Lee’s masterpiece Enter the Dragon is one of the finest martial arts films ever made. But what we didn’t know until now is that a few extras thought Lee’s kung fu was a total joke.
The extras were cast as martial arts students but couldn’t keep a straight face during the scene. Even while other students were stone-faced, they failed to do their job. The guy in the center didn’t even try to hide his laugh and turned the famous scene into a comical mess.
Feelin' Fine in San Francisco
This is one of those scenes where an extra’s awkwardness, inattention, or strange behavior threatens to ruin the immersion of the movie. We wonder how this blunder made it into the final cut even after he’d disrupted the scene’s emotion.
In a pivotal moment of Star Trek Into Darkness, a colossal spacecraft is obliterating residents of a futuristic San Francisco. While people run for their lives, this extra finds the whole idea amusing. He stands around in the background smiling with his enormous specs, making him hard to miss.
Knocked Out by an Invisible Punch
Lights, camera, action…and cringe? Extras can make or break a movie, and when they’re bad, they can be bad. In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman faces off against the villainous Catwoman and some henchmen in a rooftop fight scene.
Everything about the scene was going well until an extra did a little too much. It appears he was overly excited about the action and threw himself down without even taking a hit. Talk about an out-of-place whooping!
Maybe He's On The Wrong Film Set
And speaking of The Dark Knight, it also had another dramatic scene that almost ruined the award-winning movie. Remember the press conference where a concerned Harvey Dent addresses Gotham PD about the Joker’s rampage?
A frustrated officer yells, “No more dead cops!” Then, the extra in front of him makes a face that ruins the scene’s intensity. He looks oblivious to what was happening, and his face seems to say, “Dead cops? Nobody told me about dead cops.”
No Pressure, it's Not a Real War
After director Ridley Scott finished shooting the epic historical drama Gladiator, he spent a good few months complaining about the extras he cast. Despite the warcry and intense fighting when the Roman army first battled the Germanic tribe members, these several extras were having a good laugh.
So, we can understand his pain when a few extras look more interested in having a good time than in pretending to look like they’re actually fighting. Their visible grinning and constant smirks remind the audience that the fighting was not real. Well, there goes the authenticity.
The Unsung Hero of the Film
Even the new Japanese Emperor thought only Tom Cruise could save him from a Samurai rebellion. Set in the 1800s, The Last Samurai revolves around Cruise’s Nathan Algren, an American military captain who trains the Japanese army in modern warfare.
One particular moment perfectly captures Algren’s skill in drilling the army. He is so good that when his horse kicks an extra straight at the groin, the extra resumes his position like a well-trained soldier after a momentary flinch. Now, that’s commitment!
They Shouldn’t Have Hired a Vegetarian
In 1981, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg changed the world of adventure movies with Raiders of the Lost Ark. It launched Harrison Ford as the beloved swashbuckling and quick-witted archaeologist Indiana Jones.
The iconic scene in the movie where Jones is fighting an Egyptian swordsman is remembered by many. The actor playing the butcher behind Jones, however, was quite terrible at his job. His unimpressive knife-wielding abilities would make any real butcher blush with embarrassment.
Brother Has Given Up on Life
We are sure Greta Thunberg would have loved to produce a movie like The Day After Tomorrow if she had a chance. The film, the brainchild of two radio show hosts, depicts a chilling story of a new ice age caused by global warming.
As the ice age transforms the dystopian earth overnight, a terrifying storm ravages everything. While everyone is scrambling for their lives, one man stands in the downpour, completely motionless. Maybe he’s just a really good swimmer?
Maybe We Should Blame the Costume Designers
Due to the problems with extras, George Lucas relied on CGI to fill out the cast of the Star Wars trilogy. Of course, some actors still needed to wear costumes, leading to amusing occurrences.
Notably, the Mon Calamari from Dac had peculiar features, including eyes on the sides of their heads, making it difficult to see properly while in costume. In Return Of The Jedi, an extra clearly couldn’t find the button he was supposed to be pressing due to his rubber suit. He comically stumbles around in the background before finding it again.
There Was an Attempt
Christopher Nolan is considered one of the most demanding directors in Hollywood. And while his behavior on set is not as notorious as directors such as Stanley Kubrick, his attention to detail can be a pain for the crew.
Given this knowledge, it’s easy to assume Nolan hired accomplished stunt performers for the intense fight scenes in The Dark Knight Rises. In reality, the fight scenes included many extras, and you can spot one man punching the air during the Wall Street battle. It seems like Nolan was a tad too focused on Batman and Bane during this epic fight scene.