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George Clooney fired real people!

Casting extras in ”Up in the Air”

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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