3) Your next stop after watching this movie is likely to be IMDb
That Guy… Who Was In That Thing is a documentary about male actors who you may or may not recognize from supporting, character, or recurring roles from… somewhere. These are not names you recognize but there’s something about their faces that make them seem really familiar. When I was trying to explain the idea of who this movie is about today, the person I was speaking to kept naming actors and I kept saying “No, less famous than that.” These are people who, from now on, you will likely remember as “That guy who was in that That Guy… Who Was In That Thing thing.”
While watching the movie, the actors’ vague familiarity may prove to bother you because you cannot remember where you know them from. Trying to figure it out may prove to muddy the matter further. Take Željko Ivanek, for example. I couldn’t place where I knew him from so I went through his IMDb, which just confused me even more. ‘Well, I’ve seen the movie Hannibal, is it from that? Do I really remember a “Canadian Guy” from In Bruges? What about Argo? I just watched Seven Psychopaths, it’s probably that.’ It wasn’t until I realized that he played the Magister in True Blood for five episodes where I was finally able to place him. Even still, he’s probably kicking around somewhere in my brain from the rest of those credits as well. These are people who trickle into your experience of visual media without ever really calling attention to themselves.
2) It’s hard to sympathize with someone’s finances when they make more money than you
There’s a point part way through the movie where some of the actors start explaining how difficult it can be to make a living in the acting game. There are thousands of people in the acting union but only the top 1% or so actually make a living doing it. It sounds like a tough gig until they start talking about how they are only paid x-thousand dollars a week to work. The immediate reaction is to tell them to stuff it and that I would be thrilled to be paid any-thousands of dollars weekly. They go on to explain that, because of how difficult it can be to actually get work, this high pay can often average out to not a whole heck of a lot but man, there sure is a moment in the movie where you want to slap these guys for complaining.
1) It’s stupid to not do what you want to do just because you won’t be the best at it
The subjects of this film are well aware of what they do and what they aren’t. They know how difficult and unlikely it is that any one of them is going to be the next superstar but yet they continue to act because it’s what they want to do. They are passionate about their work and decide to continue to do it despite their candid understanding that theirs is not the path of the Downey Jr., the DiCaprio, or the Cruise. Theirs is a different branch of acting which allows (for the skilled and the disciplined) for the ability to constantly discover new characters while maintaining a comfortable living. It’s often stated in That Guy… that these actors are living the best balance in Hollywood. They live well, do their craft, but TMZ couldn’t care less about them.
It’s an inspiring message. I know how discouraging it can be to do what you love to do without being the best at it and without much hope for gainful employment. On average Death By Hippopotamus gets 5 hits a day and next month, I expect to make about $2 doing it (Thanks, Patreon donors!). Watching this movie helped me to realize that I do not need to be Chuck Klosterman in order to consider myself successful at what I do. Who knows, maybe some day, with hard work and dedication, I could some day become the Željko Ivanek of the pop culture criticism world.
Dylan Clark-Moore is a podcast creator and blogger at NetFlakes. You can find him on Letterboxd and Twitter.
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That Guy… Who Was In That Thing is also available on Amazon.