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This month's theme: Movies

Eric Kuntz: A Fun Hobby


Fran Joyce

Kuntz on the set of Mindhunter



With Jake Gyllenhaal's
stand-in, Southpaw

On the SWAT team in Foxcatcher














Acting can be a career or an obsession, but for Eric Kuntz it has turned out to be a really fun hobby.

Kuntz, a Pittsburgh native, has appeared in several movies filmed in the area. “I always wanted to be in a movie,” he says. “I thought it would be fun to meet some celebrities and learn how movies are made. Now that I’ve had several roles, my motivation has changed. When I think about showing these films to my kids who will someday be able to share them with their kids, I feel part of something everlasting.”

Kuntz works Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and is off Monday through Thursday at his regular job. Since most people his age have traditional Monday through Friday jobs, their ability to fit into a shooting schedule is more limited.

“I search lists of movies slated to be filmed in Pittsburgh, find out who will be casting the film, and what parts are available. Sometimes, there’s a lot of information, but production companies often keep details about the film from the public,” Kuntz explains. “The flexibility of my schedule has helped me move from crowd scenes to small parts. The director decides who he wants in a particular scene. The director for Concussion liked something about me and put me in several scenes.

“Extras typically earn minimum wage," says Kunst, "but they feed you well. On the set of Concussion, the production company brought chefs with them from California, and we ate like kings. Smaller parts and speaking roles pay better. I’m having a lot of fun, but I have no illusions about becoming a movie star. I’ve considered joining the Screen Actors’ Guild, so I can pursue larger speaking roles one day.”

In addition to being an extra in several films, Kuntz has had small credited roles in some major Hollywood productions. These roles often require costume fittings before filming begins and a trip to hair and makeup. He has also appeared in two television series, Mindhunter and Insomnia. Kuntz was in the bar scene of the Russell Crowe/Amanda Seyfried movie, Fathers and Daughters. He was also cast as a jogger during a street scene as Seyfried’s character runs by. In The Last Witch Hunter starring Vin Diesel, Elijah Wood and Michael Caine, Kuntz played an audience member of the model show.

Kuntz extended his screen time in the Jake Gyllenhaal film Southpaw: he played a law enforcement officer. During filming he got to know Gyllenhaal’s stand-in for the movie. “You meet a lot of interesting people during filming,” says Kuntz. “The more you do this, the more certain faces seem to show up; you start to make friends and look for them on other casting calls.”

He was in the Academy Award nominated film, Foxcatcher, starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, and Vanessa Redgrave. Kuntz was an extra in the gala scene for the speeches, and he was a member of the SWAT team that took down Carell’s character, John E. DuPont, at the end of the movie.

On the set of Foxcatcher

“Many actors prefer to stay in character during filming and do not wish to be disturbed, so the extras and actors with small roles are usually kept away from the lead actors by members of the production staff,” Kuntz explains. “Because I had the additional role as a SWAT team sniper, I was on camera with Steve Carell. During shooting breaks, instead of returning to his trailer, he chatted with us. He was very relaxed, friendly and down to earth which is surprising considering the complex character he was playing.”

Kuntz was in several scenes of the Will Smith movie, Concussion. It is his biggest movie role so far, but what he remembers most about the experience is being on set with Will Smith. “Between takes, Smith told jokes and kept everyone laughing. He was genuinely nice and talked to the cast like we were old friends.”

The editing process can be disastrous for extras, but so far, Kuntz has been lucky. Hours of film end up on the cutting room floor, and your scene is history. For now, it’s a risk he is willing to take.


Fran Joyce is an author and co-publisher of This Awful/Awesome Life.



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