I’m sure if you were to look upon my finely chiselled face you’d recognise me in an instant, but you’d struggle to know why. I’m Burt Manchester and I’ve been the number one Queue Actor in Hollywood for over twenty years.
You’ve seen me in such films as Goodfellas, Independence Day, Batman Begins and The Shawshank Redemption. Whenever a director needs to fill his queue with people, my name is at the top of his list. “Get me Burt Manchester” has become something of a catchphrase in Tinsel Town.
Perhaps the greatest moment in my career was back in 1995 when Michael Mann took me to one side and told me that I could no longer be in his movie. It was the bank robbery scene in Heat. I think his exact words were:
“It just isn’t going to work. Is that your real cheque book? You’re blowing my mind with your attention to detail, but you’re too distracting. I can’t have people sitting in a cinema and failing to notice two of the biggest actors in the world just because they can’t take their eyes off the man in the background trying to make a deposit. I need the audience to be focussed on De Niro and Kilmer, not wondering how long that handsome yet plain man has been standing in line. You understand, don’t you? Here’s ten million dollars, don’t tell the producers.”
Since then I’ve had to tone my queuing down a notch. I’ve been mostly doing art house flicks and independent stuff, but I still occasionally queue in a Transformers or Adam Sandler film. Hey, a man’s got to eat!
Burt Manchester, Hollywood.