Background Actors Who Ruined (or Stole) Movie Scenes

By: Travis Ward | Published: Apr 14, 2024

Being a scene-stealer is not always a bad thing but when you job is to blend into the background, making a splash is not exactly your role.

In these cases, movie extras managed  to make their way to the forefront of a scene by pulling focus. These hilarious moments are captured on film forever!

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.

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Source: I Luv Video/Youtube

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.

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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.

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Source: r/TheMandalorianTV /reddit.com

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.

Medicine Before Death?

In this case, we cannot blame the extra outrightly. This failure is culled from the movie Passenger 57. During the plane hijack, this extra can be seen bleeding even before he was shot.

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Source: Pinterest

The make-up artist probably did not apply the fake blood right and it started trickling down before the shot was supposedly taken. It is just interesting that this kind of obvious failure goes under the radar of the editing team.

Drunk Party Guest

It’s no surprise that Scream 2 is one of the best movie sequels ever. But, we all know that no matter how amazing a movie is, there are some things that slip through the cracks. We’re talking about movie extras.

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Source: Miramax Films/ YouTube

There’s a scene where the protagonist Sydney Prescott attends a sorority party and Ghostface had just murdered a female student. Of course, the party ends with the police breaking it up. As the students rush out of the house around Sidney, there’s a confused guy acting inebriated carrying a bowl in his hands. It adds some unintentional comedy to a rather serious moment!

A Clear Miss

The Sarlacc Pit fight sequence in 1983’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi has many things wrong with it, the biggest being how cheaply Boba Fett was killed. If you look more closely at the scene, several other mistakes are quite distracting.

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As Luke is fighting off his enemies, he attempts to kick one of them in the face – but he just kicks air instead. It’s pretty comical just how bad the miss is! The extra did his job by committing to the bit, although Hamill was really the one to blame here.

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Live Long And Prosper

It’s true that Star Trek fans will do anything to show their devotion. In one scene from Logan’s Run, an impulsive extra throws up a Vulcan salute and the editor obviously missed cutting it out from the scene!

Source: MGM/ MovieClips/ YouTube

While the extra threw up a salute in the wrong sci-fi universe, he did a good job of standing out. Funnily enough, the arm belonged to Adam Wyse, the son of a talent agent who often got him work in great films.

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1,2,3…Vogue

Even though Dodgson’s role was heavily edited out of Jurassic Park, the audience is supposed to see him as the bad guy. He also has devious capitalist intentions for dino-embryos that he employed Dennis Nedry to steal.

Source: Universal Pictures/ YouTube

To expand upon his bad guy persona, he doesn’t even close car doors. How inconsiderate! One of the scenes in which he does this could have been swept under the radar if weren’t for an extra who played his driver. The guy had a vogue moment when he unfavorably reacted to Dodgson not closing his own door.

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It’s Not Scary At All

Just like that extra in Jaws, there are plenty of times when extras look the opposite of what emotion they should actually be feeling.

Source: Paramount Pictures/ Regal/ YouTube

Take this group of people fleeing a movie theater in The Blob. While they should be terrified that a giant blob is going to attack them, they are laughing and smiling, instead. They were probably having so much fun that they forgot what to do!

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That Wasn't Supposed To Happen

At times, background extras have a mind of their own – and the results caught on camera are hilarious. It took this extra caught entering the frame in Terminator 2 a moment to realize that he was being filmed.

Source: Tri-Star Pictures/ YouTube

During the raid on Cyberdyne Systems, it didn’t take the extra long before he noticed himself entering the frame and was like, “Nope, I’m out!”

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Waiting For His Cue

Oh, extras, they really do the darndest of things! In this scene from Die Hard With a Vengeance, an extra is waiting for his cue on a street corner.

Source: 20th Century Fox/ Cinergi Productions/ YouTube

He is standing on the sidewalk for a few seconds and is anticipating his direction to begin walking after the trucks have passed. It just looks so silly.

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Not Really A Zombie

In zombie movies, it’s important to make sure that each zombie is realistic-looking. Sometimes, however, things happen, and the result is not what was intended.

Source: Universal Pictures/ Alamy

While this slip-up isn’t the extra’s fault, it is still quite embarrassing. He didn’t even have convincing zombie makeup on his stomach in Dawn of the Dead!

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Doing It Wrong

Sometimes, people are so oblivious that they forget to even open their cameras. In the high-thrill movie Speed, an extra with a Polaroid camera didn’t know that it’s closed.

Source: 20th Century Fox/ YouTube

While they are trying to take a picture, they are unaware that the camera isn’t open! How goofy.

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Camera Staring

It’s not uncommon for extras to accidentally (or intentionally) break the fourth wall during a scene. In fact, it happens more than you might think.

Source: Disney+/ Reddit

This extra in Home Sweet Home Alone stared at the camera for a few seconds, and when the shot cuts back to him, he is still staring at it! We’re not sure what was going through his head, but he was somewhere else.

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Drunk On Excitement

Boxing films such as Million Dollar Baby are brutal and dramatic yet poetic pieces of art. Think about it – there are really no bad boxing movies! The movie starring Hillary Swank and Clint Eastwood tells a beautiful tale that goes beyond the sport but also delivers the fighting sequences expertly.

Source: Warner Bros./ YouTube

This particular scene would have been picture-perfect if it wasn’t for a goofy extra in the background. The guy obviously thought that he had to be over the top after one punch was pulled. Well, we will give him credit for the enthusiasm!

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Monkey Lacked Commitment

The 1968 original version of Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston is a masterpiece. In this specific scene, his character, George Taylor, is having stones thrown at him by the apes who are set on inflicting harm.

Source: 20th Century Fox/ YouTube

Well, there are two extras donned in impressive monkey makeup who could care less about their actions. One monkey is visibly reacting to the mob, rather than joining, and then another one is not into the stone-throwing at all. Maybe it was the heat or the irritating makeup?! Who knows.

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I Must Be On Camera

Leave it to extras to make a compelling scene become laughable! Obviously, this guy in Gladiator wanted to be on camera so badly that he enters the shot briefly before the camera pulls away.

Source: Warner Bros./ MovieClips/ YouTube

The only thing in his way was a pillar, but he still managed to slightly lean into the frame. We’re glad the frame ended before he began waving and yelling, “Hi, Mom!”

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Dog Tossed Into The Ocean

Wrestling icon Hulk Hogan starred in the 1993 film Mr. Nanny, a movie about a man who becomes both the nanny and bodyguard for two kids. While it received less than favorable reviews and it’s one of those bad but good movies, there is a random scene that people couldn’t look away from.

Source: New Line Cinema/ VideoClubRandom/ YouTube

As Hogan is riding down the highway on his motorcycle through Palm Beach, Florida, he goes past a body of water. At 15 seconds in, a man is captured throwing his dog into the ocean. While the guy and his dog weren’t extras, it was such an unexpected moment that’s worth noting.

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Insufficient Prop?

An extra in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl must have time-travelled from the future. Another explanation is that there was probably a shortage of costumes on set.

Source: Pinterest

The extra is clearly seen putting on a cowboy hat, which may easily go unnoticed as odd. However, that prop is definitely out of place for the movie’s setting.

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Staring At the Camera

Some extras tend to make several bloopers the first time they appear on set. For example, some extras cannot resist the urge to not look at the camera.

Source: Facebook

In the 10th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, this extra can be clearly seen staring right into the camera. In fact, if you listen to the sounds carefully, you’ll hear someone behind the camera pointing out that fail.

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Beating the Schedule

We guess the director of Sabrina the Teenage Twitch was working against the clock. Because it is quite obvious that they thought it a luxury to find an appropriate extra for this high school scene.

Source: Facebook

Else, they would have scouted an actual teenager in place of the bald man in this scene. Or maybe, the personnel in charge of casting didn’t have a good look at the extra’s head before throwing him in front of the camera.

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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.

Source: Axecutioner - Movieclips/Youtube

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?

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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.

Source: r/shittymoviedetails /reddit.com

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!

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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.

Source: r/funny /reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: JazzmanTheMusicman / Youtube

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!

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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.

Source: fletchet555/Youtube

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.

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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.

Source: r/funny /reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: Maandi House Studios *MHS*/Youtube

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.

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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.

Source: reddt.com

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.

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Oblivious Beachgoer

After Jaws was released in 1975, people became so afraid of the water that they wouldn’t even go near it. The movie has an extremely convincing premise and remains a cultural landmark in cinema today. However, there’s just one extra who managed to take us out of an otherwise horrifying moment.

Source: TMUniversal Pictures/ YouTube

While everybody on the beach is running around hysterically, one guy is sporting a bucket hat and has a massive smile on his face. He’s clearly unaware that there’s a gigantic killer shark wreaking havoc!

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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.

Source: r/MovieDetails /reddit.com

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.

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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?

Source: Mr. Fahrenheit/Youtube

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.”

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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.

Source: r/funny/reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: r/Dunkirk /reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: r/funny / Reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: r/MovieDetails /reddit.com

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.

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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?

Source: reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: Top 10 Nerd / Youtube

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.

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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.

Source: Tal Negrin / Youtube

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.

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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.

Source: Movieclips / youtube

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!

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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.

Source: reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: reddit.com

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.

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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.

r/MovieDetails / reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: LivetheMovies/Youtube

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?

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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.

Source: r/shittymoviedetails / reddit.com

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.

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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.

Source: u/heavyblunted / reddit.com

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

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