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YouTube/Erin McCarthy

12 of the Most Distracting Extras in Movie History

YouTube/Erin McCarthy
YouTube/Erin McCarthy

Background actors, also known as extras, have one of the most important jobs on a film shoot. They contribute to the overall believability of a scene while making it easier for filmmakers to control a set or location. But sometimes, extras draw attention to themselves—either intentionally or unintentionally—and break the main focus of the scene.

1. Star Wars

When Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca are trapped in one of the trash compacters on the Death Star, a group of Stormtroopers manage to unseal a blast door to find C-3PO and R2-D2 in a control room. As the Stormtroopers enter, one of them hits his head on the blast door. While this was considered a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment from the original Star Wars, George Lucas added a "thud" sound effect in its special edition to highlight the gaffe. 

2. Back to the Future Part III

At the very end of Back to the Future Part III, Doc Brown shows up in Hill Valley 1985 in a brand new time machine made from the locomotive he used to help Marty get back to the future. When Doc is introducing his new family to Marty and Jennifer, you can clearly see Doc's youngest son Verne, played by Dannel Evans, gesturing for help and then pointing to his groin. It appears that the very young Evans needed to go to the bathroom, but didn't want to stop the take.  

3. North By Northwest

Before the iconic chase scene on Mount Rushmore, Eve Kendall "shoots" Roger Thornhill in the National Park's cafeteria. After multiple and noisy takes, you can see a little boy in the background anticipate the shot and plug his ears before she fires the gun.

4. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

During the "Candy Man" song, one of the little girls almost gets smacked in the jaw when the creepy candy store clerk lifts the hatch to let the children behind the counter. Fortunately, the little girl has ninja-like reflexes to divert injury.

5. Ghostbusters

Just before the Ghostbusters battle Gozer the Gozerian, they greet cheering fans just outside of Dana Barrett's Central Park West apartment building. One of the fans is an overly-enthusiastic businessman who screams, "Ghostbusters, alright!," as he draws attention to himself and away from the Ghostbusters.

6. Quantum of Solace

In Quantum of Solace, James Bond is at a pier and behind him is an extra who appears to be sweeping air with a broom that is not touching the pavement.  

7. The Dark Knight Rises

While Batman and Catwoman are on a rooftop fighting Bane's goons, one of the henchmen poses in a fighting stance and then falls to the ground without getting hit.

8. Everything Must Go

Salesman Nick Halsey visits Delilah, one of his old high school classmates, to re-evaluate his life. She has two children now and their first appearance seems normal enough with the pair playing in the front yard. However, when the film cuts back to the children in the background, they appear to be frozen in place, while Nick and Delilah reminisce.

9. Coach Carter

When undefeated Richmond High School varsity basketball coach Ken Carter cancels the big game with Fremont because of his team's poor grades, the school's fan base gets extremely upset and vocal about his final decision. One extra was overly furious, as he proceeds to comically shake his fist and jeer at Coach Carter.

10. The Last Samurai

When Captain Nathan Algren returns to his Japanese camp, his horse kicks one of the Samurai extras in the crotch as Algren dismounts. The extra is clearly a professional, because he just lines up into formation until the end of the scene. 

11. Teen Wolf

After the Beacon High School Beavers win the basketball game at the tail end of Teen Wolf, you can see an extra in the gym's bleachers expose her underwear. She starts to cover up her unzipped jeans with a red sweater, as the character Scott Howard hugs his dad. Once you notice this moment, you'll never watch Teen Wolf in the same way again.

12. Being John Malkovich

When John Malkovich spills onto the New Jersey Turnpike after being inside of his own head, he gets angry with Craig Schwartz for making a business out of his inner thoughts and experiences. After he threatens to sue Schwartz, an extra throws a beer can at Malkovich's head when he begins to walk away. According to Being John Malkovich director Spike Jones, this moment wasn't scripted and a drunken extra thought up the scenario after multiple long and boring takes. 

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10 People Who Have Misplaced Their Oscars
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Getty Images

Winning an Oscar is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. Unless you’re Walt Disney, who won 22. Nevertheless, owning a little gold guy is such a rarity that you’d think their owners would be a little more careful with them. Now, not all of these losses are the winners' fault—but some of them certainly are, Colin Firth.

1. ANGELINA JOLIE

After Angelina Jolie planted a kiss on her brother and made the world wrinkle their noses, she went onstage and collected a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Lisa in Girl, Interrupted. She later presented the trophy to her mother, Marcheline Bertrand. The statuette may have been boxed up and put into storage with the rest of Marcheline’s belongings when she died in 2007, but it hasn’t yet surfaced. “I didn’t actually lose it,” Jolie said, “but nobody knows where it is at the moment.”

2. WHOOPI GOLDBERG

In 2002, Whoopi Goldberg sent her Ghost Best Supporting Actress Oscar back to the Academy to have it cleaned and detailed, because apparently you can do that. The Academy then sent the Oscar on to R.S. Owens Co. of Chicago, the company that manufactures the trophies. When it arrived in the Windy City, however, the package was empty. It appeared that someone had opened the UPS package, removed the Oscar, then neatly sealed it all back up and sent it on its way. It was later found in a trash can at an airport in Ontario, California. The Oscar was returned to the Academy, who returned it to Whoopi without cleaning it. “Oscar will never leave my house again,” Goldberg said.

3. OLYMPIA DUKAKIS

When Olympia Dukakis’s Moonstruck Oscar was stolen from her home in 1989, she called the Academy to see if it could be replaced. “For $78,” they said, and she agreed that it seemed like a fair price. It was the only thing taken from the house.

4. MARLON BRANDO

“I don’t know what happened to the Oscar they gave me for On the Waterfront,” Marlon Brando wrote in his autobiography. “Somewhere in the passage of time it disappeared.” He also didn't know what happened to the Oscar that he had Sacheen Littlefeather accept for him in 1973. “The Motion Picture Academy may have sent it to me, but if it did, I don’t know where it is now.”

5. JEFF BRIDGES

Jeff Bridges had just won his Oscar in 2010 for his portrayal of alcoholic country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, but it was already missing by the next year’s ceremony, where he was up for another one. He lost to Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. “It’s been in a few places since last year but I haven’t seen it for a while now,” the actor admitted. “I’m hoping it will turn up, especially now that I haven’t won a spare! But Colin deserves it. I just hope he looks after it better.” Which brings us to ...

6. COLIN FIRTH

Perhaps Jeff Bridges secretly cursed the British actor as he said those words, because Firth nearly left his new trophy on a toilet tank the very night he received it. After a night of cocktails at the Oscar after-parties in 2011, Firth allegedly had to be chased down by a bathroom attendant, who had found the eight-pound statuette in the bathroom stall. Notice we said allegedly: Shortly after those reports surfaced, Firth's rep issued a statement saying the "story is completely untrue. Though it did give us a good laugh."

7. MATT DAMON

When newbie writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck took home Oscars for writing Good Will Hunting in 1998, it was one of those amazing Academy Award moments. Now, though, Damon isn’t sure where his award went. “I know it ended up at my apartment in New York, but unfortunately, we had a flood when one of the sprinklers went off when my wife and I were out of town and that was the last I saw of it,” Damon said in 2007.

8. MARGARET O'BRIEN

In 1945, seven-year-old Margaret O’Brien was presented with a Juvenile Academy Award for being the outstanding child actress of the year. About 10 years later, the O’Briens' maid took the award home to polish, as she had done before, but never came back to work. The missing Oscar was forgotten about when O’Brien’s mother died shortly thereafter, and when Margaret finally remembered to call the maid, the number had been disconnected. She ended up receiving a replacement from the Academy.

There’s a happy ending to this story, though. In 1995, a couple of guys were picking their way through a flea market when they happened upon the Oscar. They put it up for auction, which is when word got back to the Academy that the missing trophy had resurfaced. The guys who found the Oscar pulled it from auction and presented it, in person, to Margaret O’Brien. “I’ll never give it to anyone to polish again,” she said.

9. BING CROSBY

For years, Bing Crosby's Oscar for 1944’s Going My Way had been on display at his alma mater, Gonzaga University. In 1972, students walked into the school’s library to find that the 13-inch statuette had been replaced with a three-inch Mickey Mouse figurine instead. A week later, the award was found, unharmed, in the university chapel. “I wanted to make people laugh,” the anonymous thief later told the school newspaper.

10. HATTIE MCDANIEL

Hattie McDaniel, famous for her Supporting Actress win as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, donated her Best Actress Oscar to Howard University. It was displayed in the fine arts complex for a time, but went missing sometime in the 1960s. No one seems to know exactly when or how, but there are rumors that the Oscar was unceremoniously dumped into the Potomac by students angered by racial stereotypes such as the one she portrayed in the film.

An earlier version of this post ran in 2013.

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Marvel vs. DC: This Map Shows Each State’s Favorite Comic Universe
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Which comic book company is the best: Marvel or DC? This is a perennial argument on middle-school playgrounds and Reddit threads, but this map, courtesy of USDish.com, might just give us a definitive answer. The information here is broken down by state, using information provided by Google Trends to give us a clear winner of not only the most popular comic book company but also the most popular individual hero in each state (let’s show a little respect to Indiana for championing the Martian Manhunter).

According to the map, Marvel is the most popular publisher in 37 states, with DC trailing behind at eight, and five additional states coming to a 50/50 stalemate. The totals weren’t a blowout, though. In certain states like Mississippi, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, the favored company only won by a point. And just because a state searches Google for a specific publisher the most doesn’t mean an individual character from the opposing team isn’t its favorite—Hawaii is listed as favoring Marvel overall, yet they love Aquaman on his own. Same with DC-loving Maryland showing Black Panther some love (helps to have a big movie coming out). Take a look at some of the most notable state preferences below:

So how did Marvel amass so many states when there are just as many DC TV shows and movies out there? Well, according to Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., a professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in social media, the answer lies in the depth at the House of Ideas.

“While Superman and Batman may be dominant characters,” Selepak said in a statement, “the DC Universe offers few other well-known heroes and villains and when these other characters are presented to the audience in film and on TV, they often are less than well-received.” This is opposed to Marvel, which launches new heroes on the big and small screen seemingly every year.

Does this map tell the whole story? That’s up for debate. When it comes to comics sold, DC and Marvel are always in a close battle: In January 2018, DC had six of the 10 best-selling comics of the month, placing four of the top five. Marvel, meanwhile, had three, while Image Comics had one with The Walking Dead. In terms of overall retail market share, though, Marvel eked out DC 34.3 percent to 33.8 percent.

This is a battle that's been raging since the 1960s, and for an industry that thrives on a never-ending fight between good and evil, we shouldn't expect the Marvel vs. DC debate to be settled anytime soon.

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