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My day as an extra on the set of "Fair Game," a film about the Valerie Plame affair.
Inside the airport, the extras did what people do in an airport: check in, walk to their gate, wait in line, etc. In the scene, Watts, as Plame is supposed to send an Iraqi doctor back to Baghdad as a CIA spy. Though Jordan is next door to Iraq and there are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis living in the country, the Iraqi doctor was played by Liraz Charhi, an Israeli actress.
As we all waited for the crew to set up their cameras, I stood with a herd of extras about 30 feet away from Naomi Watts. “Do you want me to take your picture with Naomi?” asked a Jordanian extra standing next to me.
I flashed back to a story my New York friend, who works on big budget films, told me about doing a movie with Sarah Jessica Parker. According to my friend, at one point during the filming a memo was circulated to the entire cast and crew informing them Sarah Jessica Parker was not to be called Sarah or Jessica, but Sarah Jessica.
Sure, Naomi had been friendly enough a few hours earlier during a break when I asked her to move out of the way so I could get a candy bar from the food table, but I didn’t think the exchange had elevated our relationship to the point where we could start taking personal pictures together.
I tried to explain to my fellow extra that such a move might actually get us kicked off the set. Another extra, a Spanish fellow who’d managed to sneak into the duty free shop to buy a carton of discounted cigarettes, partially agreed, but I was accused of being too uptight all the same.
Several weeks after the shoot, I met with a Jordanian film worker who had served as part of the local crew for "Fair Game." When I mentioned that I’d been an extra in the film, she immediately asked, “Did you get your picture with Naomi?”
I assumed she meant, “Had there been an official opportunity to take your picture with the stars?” So I told her the story of the other extra’s offer to snap my photo with her, thinking that she’d agree it was a funny story.
“Why didn’t you?” She exclaimed. “You’re not going to get kicked off the set! This is Jordan, not Hollywood!”