The Vikings Extra’s Castings.
By Sue Leonard.
When Dave Sweeney travelled up from West Galway on 22nd June
for a funeral, he didn’t expect to end up on TV. But when, afterwards, he was relaxing in Wicklow’s Grand Hotel, he was approached by a talent scout, and asked to audition as an extra.
He’d landed in the middle of the third day of extras casting for The Vikings, developed by the Tudors Creator, Michael Hirst, to be filmed in Ballyhenry, Ashford, in July. If he’s successful, he’ll appear alongside stars Gabriel Byrne and George Blagden in this Co-production between Wicklow-based World 2000 Entertainment, and Toronto based Take 5 productions.
With his long white hair, long beard and blue eyes, Sweeney looks the part, but there’s lots of competition for the 4,500 parts. 5,000 people auditioned over the two days in Dublin, and by 3.30pm almost 2,000 had been assessed and photographed in Wicklow. And the queue kept growing.
Starting at midday, the queue snaked round the hotel towards the car-park. They came from Kilkenny, from Wexford, but most of those queuing were locals eager to earn a few bob. The Viking lookalikes stood out amongst the modern looking mums with buggies; and short haired men.
Teenagers chatted as they waited, talking about the craic from last night. 14 years olds Sean Fitzpatrick and Patrick McCarthy, wondered what their chances were, when they hadn’t got the long hair. Were they there for the money?
“And the interest,” they said, then asked me if I knew what the rates were. “He thinks we’ll get 3,000 euro,” says Patrick.
The majority were there, because they’d nothing better to do. Dave, an unemployed nightclub bouncer, says he’d be in the pub if he wasn’t here. And he needs the work.
“There were once four nightclubs in my town, now there’s one,” he says. “And that’s only open one night a week.”
When they reached the top of the queue, the wannabes were taken through to the ballroom, 20 at a time. There they filled in a form, detailing their height, measurements, shoe size, status and skills, before being photographed.
“If we need you we’ll call you,” they were told.
The pay will be discussed when a part is offered. It will depend on the part, and the skills required.
“It’ll be more than €70 a day.” Would I make a Viking? I’ve got long hair. “Put some blood and mud on your face and you might. You’re half way there.”
© Sue Leonard. 2012.