Q: When did you move to California?
A: In September of ‘97, right after I graduated college. I moved out there with the intention of staying for a year and just kickin’ it, just hanging out. Once I moved out there—I lived close to L.A. and I thought, I might as well be an extra, see what the story was.
Q: So you went on auditions?
A: There were all these ads for agencies. You’d see them in any paper. I answered a couple. Some are legit, and some are out to take your money. There are agencies that provide extras for TV, movies, models …
Q: Does that mean you had to have headshots?
A: Absolutely. You bring your whole wardrobe and they mix and match stuff. They have different wardrobes and do your hair and everything.
Q: Did they make you wear scarves?
A: No scarves.
Q: Did you like life in California?
A: Everyone is so health conscious out there. I dropped 20 pounds—that’s kind of what you need to do. They expect you to be ripped. I was a buck seventy-five and my waist was 31. I worked out like two to three hours a day. I’d be at the gym at 10 o’clock at night before we went out.
Q: So the agent sent you out?
A: I had the one agent. He was strictly a model agent. He did print work and runway shows. I did a runway show and the auditions were crazy. It was a ton of dudes and we had to take our shirts off. It was for American Hair, American Crew, some kind of fancy hair products for men. They did your hair but you were just in boxer briefs. Or I guess half of the guys wore clothes and half wore boxer briefs and I was one of the boxer-brief guys. They gave you pointers on how to walk, what to do. It wasn’t like a catwalk, it was a big circular thing.
Q: Was it at a mall or something?
A: No, it was at a convention center in Long Beach. They had a lot of shows going on.
Q: Matt Haze is not your real name, right? Where did you come up with the name Matt Haze?
A: I was influenced by my girlfriend. She was out in Virginia with her friends—this couple we’re good friends with—and they were on a pier and the couple got engaged there. And while my girlfriend was on the pier she saw a boat called Matt Haze. She told me about it and the name just kind of stuck.
Q: Did your friends ever rib you about the name?
A: Shit yeah. They’d come and visit—pretty much all of my friends from college came to visit. They would get on me about that and also that I was a solid 20 pounds lighter. I had a shaved chest, shaved arms …
Q: Excuse me?
A: Hey, you gotta do as they do.
Q: And you had to keep shaving, right? Cause it itches when it grows back.
A: Oh yeah, it gets so itchy when it starts to grow back. I had a motorcycle and I’d be driving down the street, scratching my chest.
Q: Do you still shave your chest?
A: You gotta keep it in line.
Q: You mean you trim the edges?
A: Well, you have to keep it so it’s not 6 inches long or anything. You’d be overcome with it. It’s just proper grooming.
Q: So how did you get gigs?
A: The casting agents will say, “We need men and women ages 20 to 35.” The agents have everyone’s picture and they send it to the casting people.
Q: What was good about being an extra?
A: You kill time, meet people, make money. Sometimes you are on a set for two to three days, sometimes for three weeks, every day. A lot of times they don’t want you there till 3 in the afternoon and you are there for 13 hours till 4 or 5 in the morning. It’s a lot of time just hanging out. We were like cattle really, just sitting in a pen until they called us.
Q: How was the pay?
A: I made enough money. I wouldn’t call it good money. It’s a little something to keep yourself going.
Q: Were you a member of the Screen Actors Guild?
A: No. I think you have to be in three SAG-qualifying roles and I had one or two. You have to pay a decent amount of money to get in, and then to stay in. But people in SAG make three to five times as much money as a regular extra.
Q: What movies or TV shows were you in?
A: I was in Can’t Hardly Wait with Jennifer Love Hewitt. And I loved that. I was a big Party of Five fan and I got to meet her. I was there two or three days. The scene was a big party at a house. I was just standing there. They would give you directions, like, “She walks in, you look the other way,” that kind of thing.
Q: No speaking?
A: No. Just mouthing words. I thought that was weird. I never knew that’s what they did. A lot of times you are speaking pretend words to another extra you’ve been hanging out with on the set, but other times you are doing it with a complete stranger, so it’s pretty awkward.
Another movie I was in—it was supposed to be called Isn’t It Romantic but it was changed to A Little Harmless Sex. With Jonathan Silverman and Rachel Hunter. I was there for three weeks. The entire movie took place over one night in a bar, so you have to wear the same thing every day.
Q: Did you wash the outfit every night?
A: I didn’t even have laundry in my building! You change your undershirt and drawers and call it a day.
Q: So when the movies came out, did you see yourself?
A: When Can’t Hardly Wait came out, I was like, “There I am.” I could see myself in a few scenes. The Rachel Hunter movie didn’t come out until two or three years later, and I had already moved back home (Connecticut). One night, I was flipping through HBO and there it was. I’m in every other shot, just laughing and talking without saying a peep.
I just laugh at myself. You’re dancing with no music. So you get something in your head and dance to it. But sometimes you’re dancing with a partner and they don’t have the same song in their head. Watching myself dance—I was like, “This is terrible.”
Q: Any other shows?
A: I was in a TV movie based on the book Brave New World, so it was kind of a futuristic world. I was in a club in only boxer briefs and the girls had on only bras and panties. I made 300 bucks a day on that one.
Q: Why did you get so much money?
A: I think you get paid that if you speak, get wet, or have less clothes on than normal people. I was also on Mad About You for one or two days. I am the legs that walk by on the sidewalk while they are sitting there. It was great, because the commercial for the episode had my legs in it and the week before the show I kept seeing it.
Q: Are you sad you left California?
A: A year was perfect. It was exactly what I needed at the time. I’m glad I did it but I’m glad I’m back and being productive. A lot of the people there were five years older than me and I didn’t see myself going in that direction.