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Couple fills in as film extras

by Pam Marra

STAFF WRITER

A local woman's 15 minutes of fame nearly brought a movie star to his knees. Literally.

Betsy Harrold and her husband, Don, of Clarksburg were extras in the movie "Wonder Boys," which was filmed in Pittsburgh a year and a half ago and has just recently been released.

In the film, Michael Douglas plays a professor struggling with a writing career, and his love life. Robert Downey Jr. is his editor.

"Don and I and a bunch of other extras were supposed to be professors and we're all walking out of this auditorium," Betsy says.

"Well, I'm a rather expressive person who talks a lot with my hands. As we were coming out, I was talking and my arms go up in the air and Michael Douglas was right behind me. I almost knocked him out. I didn't know he was that close.

"It all took about a minute and the only thing I got to say was something like, 'Sorry about that.' He just gave me this weird kind of look.

"In the next take, they had to move me even farther away from him to make sure I wouldn't hit him."

Although that was the only exchange between Betsy and the star, she did get to chat with Downey, who impressed her with his friendliness.

The Harrolds got the parts when Don heard about an auction over the radio seven years ago.

"They were auctioning off bit parts for a movie that was going to be filmed sometime in Pittsburgh. The proceeds from the auction would go toward Children's Hospital there.

"Don just really wanted to contribute to that hospital, so he bid a pretty good amount and won," says Betsy.

Through the years, the various parties responsible for the auction kept in touch with the Harrolds and, in 1998, they got the call to come to Pittsburgh.

"The Wonder Boys" will play at the Clarksburg Movie Cafe next week."

It was November and it was freezing cold. We had to be up there by 8 p.m., but didn't start filming until 3 a.m.," Betsy says.

"We left around 7 a.m. -- after doing about 20 takes. Half of the scene we did ended up being cut.

"When we watched the movie in Uniontown, we both saw me and I saw the top of my husband's head, but he didn't see himself at all," Betsy says.

Still, it was "a wonderful learning experience and a lot of fun because of all the people we met," she adds.

So how much did the movie stars make for their efforts?

"We each got $45. But I think that was after taxes," Betsy says.

"The Wonder Boys" will be playing at the Clarksburg Movie Cafe next week.

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