Saturday, April 30, 2016

Norwalk veteran plays extra in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' (feature flashback)

Cary's Comics Craze continues to celebrate Captain America's 75th anniversary and his five years on the big screen. For this installment as we gather momentum for the release Friday of "Captain America: Civil War," here's a NORWALK REFELECTOR newspaper feature I wrote in the spring or early summer of 2014 in which I interviewed a veteran who lives in Norwalk, Ohio who was an extra in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier":

NORWALK, Ohio — Alison Smith adores actor Robert Downey Jr., but she has no problem with how handsome Chris Evans is.

"He's pretty easy on the eyes," said Smith, a Norwalk resident.

Her one-day experience as an extra on the Cleveland set of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" sounds like a dream come true for fans of the hunky, muscular Evans.

"I don't know if I'd call it interacting, but I had to stand in the doorway for several hours with Chris Evans," Smith said.

"He was very professional. He's very soft-spoken," she said. "He's a very tall guy."

"Winter Soldier" was the top film in America for three consecutive weeks and has netted more than $226 million domestically, according to

Evans plays Captain America aka Steve Rogers. Smith, a mother of three, is in a scene in a veterans facility where Rogers watches as another veteran, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), oversees a counseling session for vets struggling to adjust to civilian life — an issue for Rogers and Wilson.

During the scene, Rogers leans on the door frame, quietly watching the session.

Smith, who sat behind a dark-haired woman with a speaking part, said Mackie was cutting up when the cameras weren't rolling.
Norwalk, Ohio veteran Alison Smith sits behind the dark haired woman in this screen shot
from the veterans' counseling session scene in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."
"Anthony Mackie was cracking jokes — being loud and laughing," she said.

In the next scene, Rogers and Wilson talk as the veterans leave the room. Smith's character walks around Rogers.

For the Norwalk woman, being a veteran isn't just fiction.

Smith served in the U.S. Air Force from 1998 through 2004. The Norwalk High School graduate is the daughter of Mark and Cheryl Sholes, also of Norwalk. Smith works as a respiratory therapist at Elmwood at the Springs in Green Springs.

"When we got there (to the set), there were several other extras who were veterans," she said.

Smith figures what she wrote at the bottom of her Marvel Studios application to be an extra might have snagged her the part.

"My military experience and cat-like reflexes make me ready for anything," she said, laughing about what she wrote.

In April 2013, Smith's friend, Norwalk resident Dawn Booher, a fan of superhero films, told her Marvel was holding a casting call in Cleveland.
Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Cleveland
is where Norwalk veteran Alison Smith reported to be an extra
for a scene in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

"When she heard about it on the radio, she had to go," Smith said.

The friends stood in line for several hours. Once inside the building, they filled out a short application and had their head shots taken. The casting hopefuls were in a very long line at a Cleveland college. Smith recalled there were thousands of people in the line that went down the street and around another building.

"You could see it went around the parking lot of the college," she said, comparing the snaking line to something from Cedar Point. "We all stood in the rain; it was freezing."

Smith attended the casting call not only after Booher encouraged her, but also because her 6-year-old son Jaxon enjoys superheroes. His favorite character is Green Lantern.

Ironically, fangirl Booher didn't get selected as an extra, but Smith did.

"She was absolutely thrilled (for me) about it," said Smith, who has no previous acting experience. "It was new and exciting — something I hadn't done before."

Marvel sent Smith a generic email to let her know she'd been chosen as an extra. Once she accepted, her second email instructed her to go to Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church on West 14th Street in Cleveland.

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" had a code name of "Freezer Burn" while filming.
"I was told to go through my wardrobe and pick out dark clothes and bring a bag (with extra clothes)," Smith said.

Once at the set, she followed yellow signs for "Freezer Burn," the code name for "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Smith filmed her scenes June 17, 2014. The first half day focused on the counseling session while the second part was about the scene between Evans and Mackie.

Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) talks to Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) in the hallway
of a veterans home. In this same scene, Norwalk High School graduate Alison Smith
walks down the hall away from Mackie. She's onscreen for about five seconds in two scenes.
"Filming was very quiet," said Smith, who remembered everyone had to be very quiet on the set — even when they walked.

Although Smith has seen several Marvel movies, she hasn't seen "Winter Soldier" yet. Her brother told her she has about five seconds of film time.

"It was a lot of fun. There wasn't a bad part about it," Smith said. "If it came up again, I'd do it."

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