Imagine being in a movie with Robert Pattinson, and Reese Witherspoon. This summer, Professor Jonathan Moore was lucky enough to take part in the film production “Water for Elephants,” which starred both actors. The film is based on the bestselling novel by Sara Gruen, about a young man (Pattinson) who joins a circus during the 1930s Depression. Moore was featured as an extra along with a number of other performers in the circus scenes.
Moore heard about auditions for the role of the “tall man” through a friend. At first, he wasn’t too keen on the task, then he found out that it was directed by Francis Lawrence (director of “I Am Legend” and a number of other feature films). He then learned that it included cast members such as Witherspoon and Pattinson and–best of all–it was a paid role.
When Moore went in for his audition, he was one of three “tall” men who had gone in to try out. Moore is over 7 feet tall, so those who had auditioned him were intrigued by his height. He didn’t have to learn any lines to audition; they merely wanted to see his size and body type. Within a few days he got the phone call that he had the part.
As Moore worked on set he met a number of other extras. He also met Pattinson, who he described as being “a nice guy.” The movie was being shot in a 1-2 month period, but Moore had to be there for about a week for his role. He said that the experience was exciting, but at the same time extremely tiring.
“I would have to be there as early as 6:00 am sometimes, but wouldn’t have a part to film till noon,” he said.
As a filmmaker, Moore said the most useful part of the experience of witnessing the behind-the-scenes process of such a production. “By the end of it, I realized it was little about the money or the actors. Indeed, it was also great to meet people and make connections. The best part was the experience of being a part of and seeing what I know and love being done on such an enormous scale.”
He enjoyed observing the director, especially, and the amount of work he and his co-workers put in to making a large-scale feature film.
“It was a privilege for me to be able to work with such talented people… I loved being able to watch the directors work and say I know exactly what he’s doing. Also it was wonderful to witness such a giant team working together so hard to create art.”
Moore continues to write and work as a filmmaker along with teaching screenwriting and film production in the Communication Department.