In the early days of my first stint in Las Vegas (2006-2007), my dad visited. He was really not a big fan of me moving here (he wanted me to stay close to home and take a job in Scranton, Pennsylvania… before “The Office” came out so it was particularly uncool at that point).
We went to Planet Hollywood to play in a poker tournament and we were both readily decimated. Walking through the casino we start to hear crazy commotion, it sounds like something is going down, we might have heard a gun shot… it was madness. We hit the deck.
“Cut,” yelled Director Robert Luketic. We look, and they are filming the movie “21”, a story about the brainiacs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology learning the art of counting cards and cleaning the casinos out of millions. Crazy moment.
My dad, if you didn’t know, has acting in his blood. He grew up wanting to be an actor, he played “The King” in “The King And I”, and he gave up on the dream to raise his kids and “get a real job”. But not this day.
“I’m getting in this movie, Shawn”. He walked up to the roped off area, and figured out who the casting director was. Soon enough, he was on-set as an extra in the flick. Crazily, when he went back to Boston after his trip, the production moved to Boston and he was an extra there as well. He ended up being in three or four scenes of the movie, even sitting next to Kate Bosworth in one scene of the film.
That moment in the casino sparked a rekindled love for my dad, who went on to be an extra in “The Sopranos”, stand-in for Sir Ben Kingsley for the movie “Shutter Island” and even land a third audition for the movie “The Town” in front of Ben Affleck. All because we sucked at poker one night.