Couple gets taste of ‘reel’ life

By on June 25, 2009

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove residents Amy and Andrew Manion live a fairly normal life in their Prestbury neighborhood. They hold responsible jobs at Aurora University, where Andrew serves as the chief academic officer and Amy is a campus librarian.

For a few weeks this spring, however, the pair traveled back in time to the 1930s with Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and 500 other extras to shoot “Public Enemies,” a movie about the gangster John Dillinger. The movie will be in theaters on Wednesday, July 1.

Andrew and Amy enjoy swing dancing as a hobby, and saw the call for extras on a website. Although it turned out the need was for ballroom dancers, both of them were still chosen to play in the scene.

On the second day of shooting, Amy was seated at a table next to Johnny Depp’s. Although the extras were cautioned not to bother the principal actors, Amy said Depp was very gracious to her and the others.

Andrew was chosen to play in six different scenes, and had more of a chance for interaction with the popular actor.

“He was very laid back and made a point of talking to the people on the set,” Andrew said.

Each scene took days to film. The extras arrived at about 3 p.m. for make-up and hairdos, and filming began about 9 or 9:30 p.m. They would often be there for 14 or 15 hours at a time, wrapping up well after sunrise.

“We were really exhausted,” Amy said.

She said she could not believe the level of attention the producers gave to each detail. It took the hairdresser an hour to fix her hair in finger waves. The dress she wore was vintage 1930s and was tailored to fit her perfectly. The shoes were all extremely narrow, to match the style of the day.

She said by the time it was over, she was glad she did not have to dance.
At the end of the first day, someone on the set would take a picture of each table, so they could replicate it perfectly for the next day’s shooting, down to the food on each plate and how full each drink was.

Although both Amy and Andrew said it was quite an experience, neither one is planning a career change.

“I know where my talents lie,” Andrew said with a laugh.