Man's Hobby Gets Him Into 'Sopranos,' Movies

CINCINNATI (AP) - You can see John Callahan in an episode of "The Sopranos" with James Gandolfini, and in the "The Dukes of Hazzard" movie with Jessica Simpson.

Just don't blink.

Callahan has made a hobby of playing bit parts in TV and movies. He recently returned from filming of George Clooney's latest movie, playing a football fan standing on the sidelines. It will be six months before he knows whether he survived editing of "Leatherheads," but he doesn't mind.

"I've already been paid. I got to meet George Clooney while I was there, and see him in control. So who cares?" said Callahan, a Cincinnati native who lives in nearby Hebron, Ky. "The fun part is being there on the set. The energy there is 10 times more than seeing yourself on the screen."

Callahan doesn't mind that he's hard to pick out in an April 15 "Sopranos" episode, walking behind Tony Soprano in a scene.

"I saw the back of my head at the golf course. I was walking with 'my wife.' Everybody missed it but me," he said.

He began pursuing appearances as a TV and movie extra after landing a small part during local filming of the movie "Traffic" seven years ago.

Callahan, 43, a divorced father of two who drives a van for an employment agency, uses his vacations or gets time off work to travel to filming locations. The meager pay for extras - less than $100 a day, he says - barely covers his travel expenses

"There's an energy on a movie set that you don't find anywhere else," said Callahan. "It's my hobby. But it's an expensive hobby."

"It's very hard to make a living going after extra work," said Kat McEntee, owner of the Katalyst casting agency in Covington, Ky.

"His dream is different. He wants to be in the movies, not necessarily to be an actor," said McEntee, whose agency represents Callahan.

Callahan tried Hollywood. He spent a year in Los Angeles working as an extra on "ER," "The Shield," "Alias," "The West Wing" and other TV shows. Usually, he played police officers or security guards.

"It was tough. There were a million people chasing a dream out there," he said. "I decided to come back here and see how far I could get. I can't stop. It's in my head. It won't die."

Every month, he sends letters, photographs and his resume to casting agents. That's how he was summoned to the sets of "The Dukes of Hazzard," "The Sopranos," "Rescue Me" and "Leatherheads."

"I always tell casting directors: With Red Bull and MapQuest, I can find my way in a day," said Callahan, who has put 230,000 miles on his Toyota Celica.

Callahan made two trips to North Carolina for "Leatherheads," a romantic comedy about the early days of football starring Clooney, John Krasinki, Renee Zellweger and Stephen Root. He was invited back in April, after attending a February casting call.

"I got the e-mail when I got off work about 11 p.m. and drove down there without a second thought," he said.

Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus