About This Project
Sylvia Fay Casting called me one day in January saying the director of a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode had cast me from my headshot to play a victim in an episode. I thought, Cool!
I was to play the role of Paul Dumont in an episode called “Dominance,” and all they really told me was that I die in the episode.
The shoot date started off weirdly. That morning, the space shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas. While I was pretty glued to the radio for much of the morning, no one was really talking about the accident when I arrived on the set in New Jersey. It seemed like business as usual.
The classification of my role was Featured Extra. A lot of the time, a featured extra just means you’re a non-speaking role you can pick out of a crowd, more so than just someone passing by. The pay is just $18 more than if I worked regular background, but this experience was much more exciting.
Among the perks was getting to see the director about what I’m supposed to look like, and getting made up to look battered pretty badly. Steve Shill, the director for this episode, and the makeup person debated whether I should have a shaved head since my character had brain surgery–I was to wear a bandage over my head, but they weren’t sure if it was authentic to have my sideburns sticking out underneath the bandage.
Once that was resolved in my favor, the makeup people paled my face and added bruises to my left cheek and eye. The bruises were pretty nasty, so horrific that SVU-star Mariska Hargitay gasped when I passed her in the hall.
In my scene, I was lying in a coma with a respirator in my mouth. Ice-T, another star on the show, surprised me by coming up to me in my hospital bed to tell me how bad I looked, then insisted to the crew that I needed some “chronic” hooked up to the machine.
I was essentially in the background during the scene as the detectives talked to a neurosurgeon about my grave condition. I actually was more visible, I later found out, by the photographs I took looking normal for the episode.
Once all the makeup was off, a photographer snapped some stills of me around the offices of SVU, for use as a prop in another scene. One still ended up on a bulletin board in a following scene, and was pretty visible throughout. I believe in that scene the detectives get word that Paul “Buzzy” Dumont died of his injuries. (Spoiler!)
It was quite a fun day because of the little extra-special treatment I got and because I got to be around the stars. B.D. Wong was with me in the dressing room (I had no idea who he was until days later), and Mariska Hargitay was showing off some sexy photos someone had sent her of Mariska with a young, sexy J.Lo look. Mariska was joking about how she now looks more lesbian chic than saucy sexpot.
The episode aired on April 4th, 2003. I didn’t get to watch it because I was at a play at the time. When I walked out of the theater, I called my mother and she said, “You’re on right now!!” Then she said, “You’re still on!!” Then, “You’re still on!!” Then, “You’re not on anym–You’re on again!!” I think I got about 30 seconds of screen time in total, which is more than what my Law & Order principal work got me–and I got screen credit for that!