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Exclusive Q&A: King Of The Extras Jesse Heiman Takes The Spotlight

Jesse Heiman

For the past five years Jesse Heiman has quietly toiled in the background of some of your favorite movies and TV shows. With over 50 credits to his name on the IMDB for everything from "Glee" to "The Social Network," the youthful-looking Heiman has become a myth, a legend, and Hollywood's answer to "Where's Waldo?"

Someone managed to spot many of Heiman's appearances and made a compilation video of them -- which caused a sensation this week, garnering over a million hits in a matter of days.

With his newfound fame erupting into a frenzy, we caught up with the world's most famous extra to see what makes him stand out from the crowd.

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It's an honor to speak to the King of the Extras, my liege. Millions of people are watching this YouTube vid, you've gone from being in the background to front-and-center overnight. How's it feel to finally be in the spotlight?
It feels amazing. It feels really cool to finally get some kind of recognition. Everybody comes to LA to try to be a successful actor. I never thought my career would be as a background extra leading to people recognizing me as much as they did. It turned out great.

This is a little like being a CIA operative and having your cover blown. Now that you're famous will it be harder for you to get extra work?
Apparently not. I've got extra work on Monday on "Glee." They don't seem to mind someone else being noticed. I don't think it's going to hurt me, I think it's just going to continue to help my career.

Are you starting to get bigger offers already?
I have a meeting in April with E! Television for a possible show. So yeah, things are happening!

Can you talk about the show or is it hush-hush?
I have no idea, it's just a general meeting. I had a call the other day with someone trying to get me as a sit-down guest on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," so that'll be cool too.

You've been in some major films for guys like David Fincher, Todd Phillips, and Steven Spielberg…
And with Michael Bay coming up. I worked on "Transformers 3" and when it comes out you should be able to see me in that one too. I think I'm just in the right spot at the right time when they're looking for roles in extra work. I always play a high school-age, like a nerd or a geek in these things, whatever they're looking for.

But you're actually over 30, right?
Yes, I'm 32. I turn 33 in May.

DreamWorks

Nice. So what's been your most rewarding/interesting on-set experience so far?
Spielberg I worked with in just one scene, but it was fun 'cause he actually directed me to do things. That was really cool because he was one of the reasons I became an actor, he inspired me to pursue this dream and then I ended up working with him. Todd Phillips did "Old School." I worked on that show for about six weeks, so I got to hang out with him and Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson and Will Ferrell for that long and became friends with them. That was really cool too.

You were one of the pledges in that.
Yes I was. I actually had a credit in that one!

If you could co-star in a feature with any actor you've been on set with, who would it be and why?
Probably Tom Hanks, just so I could say, "Hey, I'm co-starring with Tom Hanks or Leonardo DiCaprio!" Anybody. Will Ferrell or Luke Wilson. Someone who's friendly, who I'm already friends with, so you can see the camaraderie between us, not just on the show but on set.

What's a typical day like for you on set? What's your favorite thing to do to pass the time?
I have an iPhone and iPad, I'll play games on there. I'll bring magazines or something. There's always food on set so there's always something to eat while you're hanging out there. It's not all about that, a lot of times you're on your feet for 8-to-10-hours-a-day but there's a lot of downtime too where you get to chat. I've made a lot of friends on the shows I worked on. I worked on "Glee" and the people in the backgrounds just chat about what's going on. I don't know if they've seen all this stuff yet but I'm sure they will. (laughs)

This is such a job interview-type question, but where do you see yourself 5-years from now?
I'd like to start my own production company called Frozen Brownies where we help people that have scripts on the backburner. I'd like to help someone like me get started in the industry through all the connections I have, using those connections to make films, and helping others make films as well.

Where does "Frozen Brownies" come from?
It's a treat my mom makes. When she makes brownies she puts them in the freezer sometimes when they're done. No matter how long they've been in the freezer if you take them out without even heating them up they're really good just to bite into them. They're still sweet and good. It's a metaphor for a script you've been sitting on for awhile. You can still bring it out and it's still possible someone would be interested in making it.

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