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Walk-on actors are more commonly known as ‘extras’. These actors are hired by film and television productions to support the main cast, most commonly in the background or in a crowd scene.
Extras are selected by casting directors or casting agencies to work on specific production, on a freelance basis. They may sign up with casting agencies or have an agent who keeps them updated on upcoming productions. They may only be needed for one scene, or could be reused throughout the film or series, depending on the requirements.
Roles can either be non-speaking roles in the background behind the main actors, or they can include small speaking parts, for which more money will be paid. Extras will take instruction from first or second assistant directors, and may often have to spend long periods of time working on set, repeating their scene during re-takes, so patience is a must.
Many extras work in this role on a part-time or temporary basis, as it is possible to have another occupation whilst doing this. Aspiring actors may choose to go into extra work as a way into an acting career, gradually building up a portfolio of work and contacts. If lucky enough to gain a contract for ongoing extra work, in a series or for particular production companies, extras can earn good amounts of money.