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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...
Pearl Harbor

Friday January 26, 2001
Booked
I received a call from Hannah at On Location Casting for me to play a "featured patient" in the then upcoming Michael Bay action feature Pearl Harbor. According to Hannah, Michael Bay hand-selected my photo (this is not uncommon in the industry). I found it interesting that I'd be working on the film I knew was due for a Memorial Day release, an impressive full trailer for which I'd also already seen at the cinema the previous weekend... My wardrobe fitting was set for Monday.

Monday January 29, 2001
Wardrobe fitting
I arrived at the Riverside entrance to Disney Studios at about 10am for my 11:15am wardrobe appointment. Being my first time there, I kept getting turned around in the backlot, trying to find the wardrobe department. Eventually I was able to find Philip (one of two with whom I could check in) behind Stage Two, where various aspects of Pearl Harbor was being filmed. I finally got to wardrobe around 10:45 and Maria (the other person with whom I could check-in), arrived at 11am. Between Maria and costume designer Michael Kaplan, I was fitted for a regular civilian outfit. I learned that I was to be Very Featured as a dental patient. I was then sent back to Stage Two where my hair was shorne and "styled" to 1940's style. The sound stage still had "little bits" of scenes of various items at which I didn't really get a very good look. According to its specs, stage two is 130' x 240' (31,200 square feet), and 40' high.

Sunday February 04, 2001
Shoot
I received my 9:30am calltime on Thursday. Taking the bus an hour earlier I arrived at the Buena Vista entrance to Disney Studios at about 8:30am. This entrance is right "at" Stage Two, around the corner of which was breakfast.
As the day progressed I was quite surprised and disappointed with the shoot's craft "services:" no real munchies nor were there availably accessable sodas (one had to ask for one instead of there being an accessable cooler).
I checked in with Set Staff Assistant Eric Mention to let him know I was there; he was a bit surprised I was "so early," but understood my concepts towards movie shoots: I'd rather be an hour early than a minute late.
Even though I was not on the clock until 9:30am, at 9:15 he gave me my voucher and carefully requested maybe I could check in with wardrobe, make up, etc., with which I had no problem. I got my wardrobe into which I changed, then headed to make-up.
The ladies therein decided (my scene being set in Hawaii), that I should have a nice tan. Using a black oily looking goop that had the faint scent of almonds, my face, arms and hands were coated and "allowed to 'bake'." As this "baking" process would take a while "to set," I was sent over to hair.
One thing they noticed was, on my arms the stuff was somewhat streaky; it turned out this may have been due to the skin-care products I had been using on a daily basis at the time. I hadn't expected any arm make-up, or I would not have used it that morning or even the day before.
Even though I'd had my hair cut the previous Monday, it was cut way down particularly in the back. I have no issues with hair cuts for movie or TV projects; what "little" I have grows back fast.
Back at make up they kept working on getting right the tan on my arms. Set Staff Assistant Roberta Riordan popped in a couple of times, urgently to frantically informing me/the make-up ladies that I "was needed on the set."
These announcements did not bother nor did they hasten the work of the make up ladies, who literally would reply, "We will give him to you when we are done with him."
The ladies assured me I would not be in trouble for any such "delays."
Declared ready finally, I scooted to the set where they were working on a snipped bit of a ship set depicting the quarters of the ship's Captain (British actor Peter Firth). Without actually being asked or anything, I was plunked where Firth would be when First Team was up. To my amazement, I found I was doing my first work as a stand-in (that and the set smoke-work should have given me some nice voucher pay-bump adjustments).
While I was waiting for First Team, I could not help but notice the large dog wandering the sound stage. It is pretty tough to miss a full size English Mastiff. The dog was not unfriendly and he wandered about with impunity, but was not overtly outgoingly friendly in an attention-seeking; unconceited aloofness would be a more apt description. That is, he didn't mind being stroked if happened to wander close enough, but in general he preferred following his owner whenever he walked from the monitor the few feet to the set.
As the dog clearly belonged to one of the two seated men, I asked one of the two gentlemen as to the handsome dog's name (at that time I did not know which man was who).
The man in the beige sweater told me the dog's name was Mason, but I'd soon learn that...
(a) Mason belonged to the fellow in the blue shirt,
(b) said owner was director/producer Michael Bay,
(c) the fellow in beige was producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
Michael Bay checked the shots that they were okay and the First Team was called in.
Peter Firth came out first and, noticing I was his stand-in, smiled and graciously shook my hand and introduced himself.
"Oh yes, sir, I know," I told him. "I know your work as far back as Lifeforce and Equus."
"Equus...!" he all but exclaimed. "That somewhat dates you," he chuckled.
I pointed out I couldn't miss a Jenny Agutter film (certainly not during the 1970s'-80's...). Not surprisingly, at the mention of my favourite actress's name, for a moment I could see in his eyes the memory of her rushing back...
The scene takes place before the actual Pearl Harbor attack, with Cuba Gooding Jr. as Dorie Miller bringing morning coffee to the captain (Peter Firth). The captain is looking out the porthole as Miller pours out the coffee and brings the cup to the desk, as Dorie is asked if he'd ever lost a [fisticufs] fight. This was first done a bit wide (with a dolly truck) shot. Then a close up on the two of them, one of Gooding and one of Firth. It took a few takes of each.
One of Firth's lines is, "The ship's proud of you, son." At one point Firth gaffed the line big time. "From what I hear, 'luck' had nothing to do with it. The ship's proud of you, boy."
For some reason this did not even get any sort of awkward laugh. Gooding, however, was heartily amused at the faux pax. "Now I'm 'boy'...?" he quipped, clearly unoffended.
"Well, he's British," Michael Bay quickly pointed out, indicating Firth doesn't get the implications of "boy" in such a context.
"...'The ship's proud of y', "Spooky"...'!" Gooding continued to joke, imitating Firth...
As I indicated, Mason wasn't unfriendly but he didn't go out of his way to be overtly friendly either. However, at one point the dog leaned up against me from behind so I reached back without even having to bend over, and skritched his withers and flank, which he happily accepted.
"Wow, Mason really likes you..." either Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer said, noticing Mason's attentions towards me. Later it was pointed out to me that Mason had left a lot of fur on the back of my pants legs! Good thing my scene was to be sitting down...
After the Captain's Quarters scene, and Cuba Gooding and Peter Firth were wrapped for the day, everyone moved outside for a spitfire special effect scene to be shot between Stage Two and holding-area Stage Three. It entailed a shot spitfire plane (about a third of which was actually there: mostly the cock pit), and it took them a while to set it up. They filled it with smoke, with a tech running a fan on the front of the plane right at the lip of the cockpit front, as well as the guy letting some smoke blow through the fan. The special effects guys kept warning everyone about their firing off "glue sticks," giving no indication as to what this meant or how it would look. All they kept saying in what direction they would "fire."
Eventually they started rolling, the cockpit filled with white smoke, and the glue sticks fired. I was close enough to see from a safe enough distance: it "shot" three (maybe four) "bullet holes" through the cockpit. They then put the stunt guy into the cockpit and refilled it with white smoke. At "Action!" the stunt guy burst his left arm through the shot plastic cockpit hatch (freeing himself). While the actual "shots" weren't that loud, it still seemed kind o'cool.
While Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer looked over paperwork, a somewhat bored Mason grabbed the nearest chew toy: a regulation-sized plastic traffic cone on which he chewed and threw around, about which he carried as easily as he would a tennis ball. While waiting for the stunt gag to be set up, those of the crew not directly involved wandered about. To keep happy the growlingly bored Mason, Michael Bay led him into Stage Three where there was also a deep filled pool in the floor, into which Mason was encouraged to dive and swim.
I was brought in for the dentist scene. While they were setting up the camera and lights, a prop master gave me a thin 1940's wristwatch as well as a gold wedding band.
The set was a small office up on a platform in a small area still within Stage Two. Outside the office windows were fake leafy plants blown by fans. Beyond that a huge blue screen with which ILM could later put in whatever was wanted (a part of ocean bay). I sat in the dentist chair as they were done setting up, and Michael Bay winced at the fact the windows were spotlessly clean.
"Can these windows be any more fake-looking?" he asked.
He was told that ILM instructed them that the glass had to be spotlessly clean.
The angles and takes used at first seemed to belie my getting any screen time at all. It seemed mostly an over my shoulder shot, and possibly a bit of a profile shot as the Japanese dentist was working on my mouth.
As scripted, the scene entailed cutting back and forth from the dentist to his caller, a Japanese spy (filmed elsewhere and earlier). Once the local information needed by the spy is obtained, the spy apparently just hangs up, to the bewilderment of the dentist. "Hallo? Hallo? That was a strange call," he says simply, hanging up the phone and merely returns to his work (on me).
What quasi-angered the director was that the lovely Polynesian-looking nurse (ironically named Jenny), had a(n adorable but) rather pronounced Aussie accent.
"Wha'...? What, are you from England or something?" he asked at first, somewhat surprised or thinking she was affecting her speech.
"Melbourne," she replied.
"Australia...?!" he blurted. "There was no accent on the audition tape!"
I do not know if he was being angry or joking but at one point later he flat-out accused her of "lying" on the audition tape (as though an actor acting in character is "lying"). She managed to do as best an American accent as possible.
As for me, after several takes in different angles, Michael came into the li'l set and the Feeling In The Air was that he was about to say Let's Move On (meaning, that this scene was completed). Then he just glanced over at me at me sitting forward in the dentist chair. He asked for a coverage shot or two of me Sitting There Waiting for the dentist to be through with the phone call (such coverage shots were not used in the finished film).
At the time, they quickly moved stuff around to accomodate the shot. Michael went back to the monitors and directed me from there.
"Okay, look at your watch... Now look up..."
I did so, not raising my face from looking down at the watch, but only letting my eyes look up towards where the doctor was supposed to be (my sightline being the antiquated x-ray machine). The "eye move" was deliberate, and Michael stifled an outright laugh, but an audibly loud chortle did emerge.
"Okay, once again," he directed, not unamused with the move. "This time not quite so comedic..." he chuckled.
This time I glanced at the watch and raised my face up so the move and facial expression was "non committal." I puffed air through my lips impatiently a few times. After a few minutes Michael had everyone Move On and lunch was called, right on time.
Although I was done and wrapped (it was 3:30pm), I was able to stick around for the lunch. Afterwards I changed into my civies, and my voucher was "generously" bumped up from Mere Background to Stand In (as well as a bump for the smoke they used in both scenes in which I worked), despite the fact that technically (and ethically/honourably), I should have been paid for the on-camera work and separately for the stand-in work, just as though they'd had in a second man to be the stand-in (during SAG orientation we were warned that Disney projects are notorious for nickel-and-diming its SAG talent: "penny-wise and pound-foolish," as my mother would say). I managed to get a photo or two of Mason and the second mastiff Grace, with Michael candidly in the background, and I departed Disney Studios for home.

Sunday May 28, 2001
On the big screen
To surprise my mother for her 75th birthday, I flew back east for Memorial Day weekend. Saturday morning the 27th Mom and I went to see Pearl Harbor and found it very well done, and predictably Mom was understandably thrilled to see me so visibly on screen. The scene is edited to combine the dentist, the spy caller, and the naval listening post eavesdropping on the call (the clip of which would be shown two or three times in the feature documentary Strictly Background).
I also did get a big kick out of seeing Mason getting a cameo as Alex Baldwin's character's dog...


Pearl Harbor
[Blu-Ray]
Geoffrey Gould as the Dental Patient in ''Pearl Harbor''
Strictly Background

Pearl Harbor
(Two-Disc 60th Anniversary
Commemorative Edition)
Geoffrey Gould as the Dental Patient in ''Pearl Harbor''
Geoffrey Gould as the Dental Patient in Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor
(The Director's Cut)
(Four-Disc Vista Series)

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