I Shot an X-Man. On TV

Tom Mcilwain is an actor, but not a big star. Neither is he an extra. He is a mid-level performer called a day player, one of the many who have a few speaking lines or small specific actions in movies and TV shows that don't come with name recognition. A job may last a day or a week. Mcilwain explains his job, with an example from a recent role in the TV show The Gifted as Guard #2.

I ended up with three days of filming, and I was in three scenes, two of them with dialogue and most making it to air. That’s actually pretty good. First day and scene was me running up to one of the main characters and nodding, then waving a rifle around and pretending I was firing it. Easy day, but my real-life tactical buddies all texted me after it aired to correct my form.

Day Two was my big scene with dialogue and shooting a principal character. My line is embarrassingly simple, but right before shooting, they asked me to improvise some lines with another actor to set the scene up. He’s telling me to take it seriously, as if they use it, our residuals go up. I’m like, “Dude, they’re not using this. Chill out. I’m trying not to forget my three damned lines.” But damned if it didn’t mostly make air. Which officially makes Jesse O’Neill hella right and me hella wrong. And except for my gun jamming twice, it went smoothly.

Day Three was comical. They basically kept me around “just in case.”

Day three ended up being the most interesting. Mcilwain gives us an overview of a showbiz career we don't hear much about at Ozy.

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