We walked through the bowels of a large warehouse shrouded in darkness. I rounded a corner and shoved open a heavy door with no idea what was on the other side.
Suddenly, we were in the world headquarters of WeWork.
The famous startup led by Adam Neumann seemed to take over the world before it crashed just as quickly. And now, it had become a TV miniseries called WeCrashed.
I had the joy of being a background actor (also known as an extra) on episode 7 of this fascinating show! I played a Goldman Sachs investment banker, hard at work on winning WeWork’s business for its IPO.
Light poured in from above on the set of WeWork’s headquarters, which nailed the company’s funky aesthetic. Concrete columns framed long sofas in bright colors.
I even got to see the famous WeWork gong! Unfortunately, I was not allowed to ring it.
We filmed a scene where a senior Goldman banker tried to impress Neumann by quoting Bob Marley. I had to look like the serious banker, but it was all I could do not to burst out laughing.
Then, Jared Leto made his entrance.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to be him; everyone staring at you, knowing who you are, without you knowing anything about them. I gushed to my fellow extras about what a great actor Leto is, and he nodded to us politely as he passed.
What came next is the best acting I’ve ever seen in person.
Leto was rejecting a proposal from a venerable Wall Street bank, and went through his scene again and again. He delivered the same lines with every possible combination of intonation and inflection, one right after the other, until he determined which was right.
Far away, I quietly remarked to one of the other extras that Leto’s accent sounded a bit heavy. Just minutes later, I noticed he had corrected it.
In between takes, he went into a small room with an assistant to prepare for his next scene. I felt a little sorry for him…we could laugh, joke, and make new friends when we weren’t busy, but he could not.
The crew’s attention to detail amazed me.
At one point, they gave us iPads as props. On the screen was a copy of WeWork’s actual S-1.
In other scenes, we had to use our imagination.
At the Goldman offices watching Neumann announce the IPO, we were actually looking at a green screen. The TV broadcast was added later in post-production.
Filming WeCrashed was a wonderful time! I got to be a small part of a story that fascinates me and see one of my favorite actors at his best!
If you haven’t seen the show, I encourage you to check it out! Leto plays the charismatic, out of control Neumann with uncanny accuracy.
And if I may say so, my big bald head adds a little something too! 🙂
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