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Five Times Extras Were So Distracting They Almost Ruined the Film

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox / GLOWWORM / MovieStills DB, Columbia Pictures / Darcy / MovieStills DB
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox / GLOWWORM / MovieStills DB, Columbia Pictures / Darcy / MovieStills DB

Extras are an integral part of filmmaking. Movies would not be the same without them. That being said, sometimes extras are too noticeable or even become distracting, taking away from the scene they’re in and the whole movie. Whether it is by mistake, wanting their 15 minutes of fame, or thinking that they can add something to the scene, here are five extras that were so distracting that they almost ruined the films they were in.

Star Wars (1977)

Stormtroopers in Star Wars (1977).
Star Wars (Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox / GLOWWORM / MovieStills DB)

Star Wars, or Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, captured the imagination of audiences worldwide with its groundbreaking visual effects, compelling characters, and epic storytelling. It became a cultural phenomenon, leaving a lasting impact on popular culture. The success of the original film led to the creation of multiple sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and an expansive franchise that continues to thrive and captivate audiences to this day.

But despite taking place in a distant galaxy “far, far away,” Star Wars was no exception to a blooper. While Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca are stuck in a garbage compactor, Stormtroopers discover C-3PO and R2-D2 in a sealed control room. When the Stormtroopers enter the room, one hits his head against the door above them.

Initially, this went unnoticed. However, in later editions of the film, George Lucas added a thud sound effect to the scene.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Bill Murray in Ghostbusters (1984).
Ghostbusters (Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures / Darcy / MovieStills DB)

Ghostbusters is a supernatural comedy film. Released in 1984, the film was directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The movie combines elements of comedy, sci-fi, and horror to create a unique and entertaining experience.

Set in New York City, the story follows three eccentric parapsychologists: Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis). After losing their university research positions, they decide to start their own business, Ghostbusters, offering ghost removal services to the public.

Toward the end of the film, when the Ghostbusters go up against Gozer the Gozerian, they meet cheering fans outside a Central Park West apartment building. One of the extras yells above the rest: “Ghostbusters, alright!” This draws a little too much attention to him and away from the actual Ghostbusters.

North by Northwest (1959)

Lobby card showing Cary Grant
(Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / roksana / MovieStillsDB)

North by Northwest is a classic thriller film released in 1959, directed by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock and written by Ernest Lehman. Starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and James Mason, the movie is often considered one of Hitchcock’s greatest masterpieces and a quintessential example of the suspense genre.

The story revolves around Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant), a suave and successful advertising executive living in New York City. His life takes an unexpected turn when he becomes entangled in a case of mistaken identity. While leaving a business meeting, Thornhill is mistaken for a man named George Kaplan by a group of foreign spies led by the mysterious Vandamm (James Mason).

Throughout the film, Thornhill finds himself caught in a web of deception, traveling from New York City to Chicago and ultimately to the iconic climax on Mount Rushmore, where Thornhill is then shot. In anticipation of the gunshot, a boy in the background puts his fingers in his ears. It’s something that you might have missed, but now that we’ve pointed it out, you’ll likely never watch the scene without seeing it.

Quantum of Solace (2008)

Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace (2008).
Quantum of Solace (Photo Credit: MGM / bilbo / MovieStills DB)

Quantum of Solace is the 22nd installment in the iconic James Bond film series, released in 2008 as a direct sequel to Casino Royale. Directed by Marc Forster, the movie continues the story of the suave British secret agent James Bond, portrayed by Daniel Craig.

The film begins immediately after the events of Casino Royale, where Bond is devastated by the betrayal of his lover, Vesper Lynd. Seeking revenge, he sets out to uncover the truth behind the secretive organization known as “Quantum,” which was responsible for manipulating Vesper and causing her death.

The plot takes Bond on a thrilling, globe-trotting journey as he travels to various locations, from Italy to Haiti and Bolivia, in pursuit of Quantum’s leaders and their sinister agenda. Along the way, he encounters dangerous foes, beautiful women, and daring action sequences that have become synonymous with the James Bond franchise.

One aspect that was not synonymous with the Bond franchise was an extra seen behind Bond with a broom as Bond sits on a motorbike watching Dominic Greene, the film’s main antagonist. While Bond sits in the foreground, the extra with the broom sweeps in the background. The extra brings too much attention to himself when you notice that the broom isn’t even touching the ground and he is sweeping the air.

Being John Malkovich (1999)

John Malkovich and John Cusack at the New York Film Festival showing of "Being John Malkovich" at Lincoln Center.
John Malkovich and John Cusack, October 1, 1999. (Photo Credit: Richard Corkery / NY Daily News Archive / Getty Images)

Being John Malkovich is a surreal and inventive comedy-drama film. Directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman, the movie presents an entirely original and bizarre premise that explores themes of identity, desire, and the human condition.

The story revolves around Craig Schwartz (John Cusack), a down-on-his-luck puppeteer who feels unfulfilled in both his personal and professional life. Seeking employment, he stumbles upon an intriguing opportunity when he discovers a hidden portal on the 7 1/2th floor of his workplace, a bizarre and surreal office building.

This portal leads directly into the mind of the acclaimed actor John Malkovich, where one can experience the world through his eyes for precisely 15 minutes before being unceremoniously ejected onto the side of the New Jersey Turnpike.

At this turnpike, Malkovich confronts Schwartz. The scene doesn’t go to plan when a truck drives by, and the extra in the vehicle throws a beer can, hitting Malkovich in the back of the head. Apparently, the extra had snuck beer on set and, after multiple boring takes, decided to change it up.

More from us: The Secret Role the CIA Played in Producing Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘North By Northwest’

The scene made it into the movie with the now-famous line, “Hey Malkovich, think fast.” After being hit, Malkovich grabs his head and screams in pain, all a genuine reaction to being hit.

Ryan McLachlan

Ryan McLachlan is a historian and content writer for Hive Media. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Classical Studies and his Master of Arts in History from the University of Western Ontario. Ryan’s research focused on military history, and he is particularly interested in the conflicts fought by the United Kingdom from the Napoleonic Wars to the Falklands War.

Ryan’s other historical interests include naval and maritime history, the history of aviation, the British Empire, and the British Monarchy. He is also interested in the lives of Sir Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson. Ryan enjoys teaching, reading, writing, and sharing history with anyone who will listen.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching period dramas such as Murdoch Mysteries and Ripper Street and also enjoys reading classical literature and Shakespeare. He also plays football and is an afternoon tea connoisseur.