Take Two!

Vacation Stand-Ins


More often than not, film extras aspire to be professional actors. Contrary to this stereotype, I wanted nothing more than to pursue activities for which I would not be able to make time once I found a full-time job relevant to my future career path, which amused some individuals on set. A few weeks following my initial experience on the set of Vacation, I was called back to assist with a different scene involving my role. Everyone I had seen surprisingly remembered and enthusiastically welcomed me, and I used this ebullient atmosphere to befriend and create deeper conversations with the employees. I even brought a list of decent Korean restaurants nearby to share with those who wanted to know several weeks ago. Ed Helms walked past and asked me, “You ready for some more Korean?” and I was delighted he recalled me. Christina Applegate also appeared to recognize me during our brief greetings and be in a brighter mood than our first encounter. Though I had to wait a couple of hours prior to my segment, I enjoyed that time exploring the set and learning about the editing process. (Though viewers generally only credit those on camera, countless men and women behind-the-scenes as well make successful productions possible.)

Korean GPS!

The Vacation team originally stated they would use a separate professional voice for the movie, though the actors’ reactions from the scenes in which I partook will have been influenced by my shouting and grunting. Thus, I was caught off guard when the technical crew attached a tiny microphone to my shirt and took me to a medic room to record every one of my lines in the script. Skyler Gisondo, one of the stars, along with stand-ins cheered me on from outside, proving to me the room did not fully contain my “hilarious” howling. Whether or not the movie will use my voice is yet to be determined, as I was told all “yes,” “maybe,” and “probably not.” Nevertheless, had I been told about the recording session in advance, I would have taken the script to my brother first to ensure all of my translations sounded natural. Director John Francis Daley did not believe this to be a potential problem, as the team would add subtitles and most spectators would not understand anyway. Appearing in a movie would be an honor, but at the same time, I would not want the Korean audience to misconceive a Korean-American who hardly knows Korean tried too hard to no avail, because I do speak flawless Korean.

Though much shorter than the previous time on set, the rest of the session remained similar, reading my lines in front of the main characters. I had multiple chances to chat with benevolent foreign chefs, stand-ins, actors, and production assistants, all of whom helped me feel at ease with their amiability. I discovered Skyler began acting at age six, to which I jokingly responded, “I don’t think I even talked when I was six. I certainly didn’t speak English.” I wondered if acting ever became repetitive for him, but he felt not, as “it’s always new.” Steele Stebbins, a teen actor who constantly waved at me my first time working with the protagonists, gave me a hug when he saw me back. His mother said they were thinking of me for an unknown reason the other day. After the final scene, he approached and asked me if I were leaving, and I told him, “This is probably my last time here.” He immediately offered another hug, and I suggested to his mother we should have Korean food soon, especially because he has never had any. Aside from breaking my fixed retainer biting a slice of pizza before exiting the set, I have only obtained positive memories enrolling in a movie with such humble veterans. Vacation marked my last participation as an extra, as I only craved a minor experience in this realm and do not consider acting as my calling.

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