Movie Article

George Clooney Fired Real People!

Casting extras in ''Up in the Air''

In several scenes scattered through Up in the Air, 25 workers express their disbelief at getting pink-slipped by George Clooney's professional downsizer. These candid reactions aren't good acting: Writer-director Jason Reitman used footage of interviews with real layoff victims. ''I realized I didn't know how to write these scenes. They were inauthentic,'' says Reitman. So he placed ads in local papers in Detroit and St. Louis claiming that he was auditioning subjects for a documentary — a ruse to attract real people instead of actors. Cozy Bailey, a former Styrofoam technician from Affton, Mo., who responded to the ad, says she was stunned to find that her interview was really for a George Clooney film. ''It sucks to get fired, it doesn't matter by who,'' she laughs, ''but it was extremely exciting.'' She also found the experience cathartic, a feeling echoed by Kevin Pilla, a laid-off engineer in St. Louis. ''It gave us the opportunity to say things that we didn't think of off the top of our head [when we were laid off] because we were in such shock,'' he says. ''Giving real America a chance to tell their story and incorporating it into a Hollywood setting—it's just remarkable.''
With additional reporting by Joseph Brannigan Lynch

Originally posted Dec 04, 2009 Published in issue #1079-1080 Dec 11, 2009 Order article reprints

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