Lancaster man will see you in the movies

November 04, 2004|BOBBIE CURD

LANCASTER - Earl Shaw said he never thought he would see himself in movies.

"If someone would've told me five years ago that I would go audition for a movie, I would've called them a liar!"

Shaw first was an extra on the set of Elizabethtown, but says, "Being on the set of Dreamer really exceeded all expectations I had."

Dreamer was filmed in Lexington in September, then the set reconvened in Louisiana to wrap up.

The movie is written and directed by John Gattins, and stars Dakota Fanning as the daughter of a horse trainer (Kurt Russell) who nurses an injured horse back to health and gets it ready to race in the Breeder's Cup.


Shaw, 77, said he thought "Why not?" when he saw the article in the paper about extras needed on the set.

"I thought, well, it's definitely something I've not done before."

When he showed up for the casting call in Lexington in August, he brought a photo taken of him and his wife on their anniversary.

"I was getting ready to cut it in half, and the lady at the desk told me 'you better not cut that' so I turned in the photo of both of us. When they did call-backs, they called my wife, too, but she just wasn't interested."

But Shaw was, and still is. He may have caught the acting bug.

"I saw a portfolio of another one of the extra's there. He's turned out to be a good friend of mine. He is actually planning to move to L.A. to act full time, if he can."

Shaw said the portfolio of various headshots and poses may be something he'll look into in the near future.

"You never know," he says with a big smile, "Now that I have two movies to put on my resume ..."

Age is no deterrent

Retired from the National Guard after 38 years, and with over 20 years as an educator, Shaw definitely does not see a reason why he can't start another career.

"You know, in my 77 years in this world, I've come to realize - it's really never too late. If you want to do something, then go out and do it. That's what I did."

Shaw goes out and does a lot.

He is an active member of the community, works out daily at the wellness center in Danville, and knows someone everywhere he goes.

He has one of those contagious smiles accompanied by light blue eyes which sparkle when he talks about working on the Dreamer set.

"Who knows. I felt like I was in a lot of good scenes in Dreamer, but you know all that they do when they start cutting the film. I may end up not in it at all."

That's doubtful.

Shaw is dressed in a suit which the wardrobe department requested he wear in his first scene. It's light gray with a maroon tie and matching handkerchief.

Shaw convincingly looks the part of a horse owner.

"That's what one of the fellas on the set told me. He sat me in the very front row, on the end, during the nomination scene. He said I looked like I own horses."

The scene was filmed on Ironworks Pike, and is an important part of the movie plot.

Dakota Fanning throws her hat into the ring of a male dominated industry by getting her horse nominated to run in the Breeder's Cup, and Shaw was sitting nearby.

"They would run around and dab at the perspiration on our heads, then had us getting up and down, moving here and there. I finally thought to myself, 'Please, please just let me sit here ... don't make me move anymore.'"

Long days on the set

The days were long on the set.

Shaw would sometimes get up at 5 a.m. in order to get ready and drive to Lexington.

After each of the eight days he worked, Shaw drove back to Lancaster each night to the farm where he and his wife keep several pet cats. He feeds and cares for them daily.

"I'm telling you, it was hard, hard work. Very long days. Sometimes we would have to sit and wait for hours while they taped the big scenes with Russell and all of them before they'd do anything with us. But I met some excellent, wonderful people there. I made some friends for life."

Shaw was paid a nominal fee for each day's work, but says in all honesty, "I would've done it for free. Now I'm not saying that it wasn't hard work, but I would've done it for free."

Shaw now says he thinks he may be interested in trying out for community theater in Danville.

"I'm thankful for every day that I get up and have a life. You have to keep busy and keep moving!"

The most common question that Shaw is asked when his friends find out that he was in two movies is, "How in the world did you find out about that?"

Shaw said he always responds, "I read the paper every day. That's all you have to do."

The release dates for Dreamer and Elizabethtown are not yet known.

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