Van Dusen and movie family see the reality of movie makingMayor Willis Van Dusen is married to a nosey wife and one of his three red-haired children regularly brings home failing grades and dead animals.
But Van Dusen isn't concerned - he's having the time of his life.
After all, it's not often that one is a featured extra in a Hollywood movie.
"I'm very flattered and I really like it," Van Dusen said as he waited at "The Ring II" base camp in the old Safeway parking lot. "I could get used to this really easy."
In the scene on Grand Avenue, Van Dusen and his family live in a beautifully restored home overlooking the river. They're sitting down to an All-American dinner of turkey, potatoes, corn and bread. Onlookers can see them inside the glowing home laughing and talking. Even though the kids' scripts make them out to be "difficult" children, through the window they look like a perfect family.
When Aidan Keller (David Dorfman) walks by after escaping from the hospital - his mom (Naomi Watts) left to take care of some paperwork - he sees a family representing the polar opposite of his life.
During the rehearsals Wednesday, the crew used "Willis!" instead of "action" to propel the actors in motion. On that cue, Van Dusen walked in with a bowl of salad and started dishing it up. His wife, the only professional actor in the scene besides Dorfman, followed with a bowl of corn. Inside the house she asked the family random questions such as "Who wants a movie tonight?" and "Who wants popcorn after dinner?" so their chatter would look spontaneous.
The kids were instructed to make up kid-typical conversations. Abbie Johnson, 8, was so good that she kept fooling Van Dusen.
So in school today...
You were in school today?!!
No, Mr. Van Dusen, it's in the movie.
"That's how good of an actress she was," Van Dusen said.
Van Dusen said getting ready for Wednesday's filming felt a little bit like Oz, when Dorothy and her friends were shined, sprayed and spruced before meeting the Wizard.
"You go through this long truck, you get your hair done, your makeup, your clothes," he explained.
Van Dusen wore his own pants and shoes, but they traded his flannel shirt for a wardrobe one in green plaid.
"They've been treating me like I'm Marlon Brando ... my own dressing room, my own air-conditioned van," he said. "Everyone calls me 'Mr. Mayor,' which is embarrassing."
The kids in the scene were a little bit nervous about working with the mayor.
"At first we were a little shy, then we got used to him," Abbie said. "He's funny."
In a few short hours, the kids became experts on not only working with the mayor, but on what to do and what not to do on a movie set: like don't ask questions having to do with time, and act like you're with your normal family.
"You can't look at the camera," said Kyle Lucore, 9.
"Not even out the window," Kyle Overbay, 11, said.
They also got an insider's view of the detail that goes into forming a scene.
Abbie noticed the crew hiding by the stairs, putting cushions on their chairs, and making other changes.
Overbay said that from his position on the inside of the house, the whole movie-making process was different than he expected.
"Its more fakey then I thought," he said. "There are a lot of people in the background."
But after three hours of filming delays because of the bright sun, Abbie summed it up.
"You really have to be patient if you want to be in a movie," she said.