Russ gets cup close to stars

IT'S not often you get the chance to get up close and personal with a bonafide film star like Helena Bonham Carter.

But that's exactly the situation Russ Petcher found himself in when he turned up for his first day of work as an extra on British film The King's Speech.

The film centres around King George VI overcoming a stutter with the help of a speech therapist and boasts a bevy of big movie stars.

Music mad Russ, who reviews cds for the Reporter Series, answered a call for budding actors to appear in the film as soldiers for busy crowd shots. For the part, Russ had to shave off his much loved long locks to fit in with the 1920s theme.

"We shot the crowd scenes over two days – first at Elland Road and then at Odsal. I felt like something from Oliver Twist with everyone dressed in traditional 20s clothes," Russ said.

"It was a bizzare scene because a couple of hundred extras had to look like thousands of spectators waiting for a speech by King George VI. So they had blow up dolls among the crowd to make it look busier and I didn't expect that at all.

"The weirdest bit was sitting two rows behind Helena Bonham Carter and she is really tiny!"

Despite the close proximity to the star, Russ decided against approaching her between takes.

"Later on in the first day, they moved me really near Colin Firth, who plays the King, and they gave us all herbal cigarettes to smoke," he said.

The second day of shooting was slightly less exciting for our Russ.

He said: "It was a really long day because they were filming the speech by King George VI and we did take after take. I was a soldier so they gave me a bayonette and a rifle to hold – it felt like being in the real army!"

Despite his brush with fame, Russ isn't booking his flight to Hollywood just yet.

He added: "I'm glad I got the chance to be involved in this but I don't know if I would do it again because there was so much waiting around involved – especially on the second day. At least I got to see some stars close up and I'll be looking forward to seeing the film when it's eventually released. "