Hollywood is often thought of as the land of fame, the place to be to become a famous star. But it's harder than some might think, and no Hollywood movie would work if it wasn't for the actors playing cops, bosses, brothers, sisters, villains, and so on. This documentary is about those who have survived through hell only playing these roles, and everyone knows their face... but never their name.
We've all experienced the good old "there's that guy, who was in that thing!" thought when watching a movie, TV show, interview, whatever. There is a reason for that - we're force fed the names of all the Brat Pitts, George Clooneys, Sylvester Stallones, Angelina Jolies, Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutchers, etc. that Hollywood has to offer. But we're never told who these actors playing side characters are. Sure their name are in the credits, but so are hundreds of other names. Hollywood is feeding off of these actors who are so excellent in what they do, whether it is playing a father, a politician, a judge or a doctor. They're carefully picked when a movie is being made because they are so great at portraying these characters, but Hollywood ignores them when it comes to the lead roles. Like really, who hasn't seen Zach Grenier in more movies than Leonardo DiCaprio?
This documentary is exactly about that. It's a series of interviews with some of the most familiar faces (but unknown names). They get to speak out about the system and all its flaws, and admit how hard the ride has been. Many has stopped trying, but not these guys. They are still to this day fighting to survive. Even though they occasionally get bigger parts in shows and such, they're yet to really break out. Someone like Timothy Omundson, who is probably my personal favorite in this documentary, has gotten larger parts in stuff like "Psych" and "Judging Amy", and still he's not more acknowledged. It reminds me of John C. McGinley, an actor I really admire. He's been in a lot - probably most famous from "Scrubs", but when you watch him in something like "Intensity" you seriously wonder why he's not a big name actor. A lot of the actors in this documentary are exactly the same.
The documentary has its highs and lows. It's very much your typical pop culture documentary, it doesn't bring much new flavour to the genre. It's interview after interview, often jumping a lot between the interviewees. That's one thing I always find distracting - I'd rather have longer scenes, instead of jumping in between. I get why they do it, since it's usually when the same subjects are talked about, but I get more personality out of a long scene/interview. At the same time, it's not about how the documentary is constructed, but about the people that are interviewed. These are struggling actors that we all expect would've at least been rich if not famous. Nope, more often than not they aren't. They nice pays when they get them, but it's far between them. That's where the documentary often gets sad and emotional, which I think is good. They talk about their gaps and their starts in the business, and you realize that it's not easy at all. It's no wonder that people are the way they are in Hollywood, and only the most determined will stay. One part in particular got to me, when one of the actors (I won't spoil who, just in case people feel it ruins it) says he knows exactly what to say if he ever wins an award for a role. But this is quickly followed by the end of the documentary where we find out that he died. It's just one of those things that really sting when you hear/see it.
"That Guy... Who Was in That Thing" is an interesting documentary, especially if you recognize the people in it. It's not the best documentary since it's still very much a standard pop culture interview based documentary, but I'd recommend it to any movie fan just to give you a perspective. Many, many movies depend on these very actors, but they are not the ones that people remember or care about, and there's not much anyone can do about it. It's how it is, and we can't control who we remember and why. The only thing that can be done is that they get bigger roles, but there are so many of them that it's not possible to give them all those parts. There are a limited number of "huge" celebrities in Hollywood, and hopefully one day SOME of these actors will be part of that. But most of them won't.