Published on June 25th, 2013 | by Clint Davis
Top Five: Best ‘Extras’ Guest Stars
Ricky Gervais turned 52 today and as we celebrate the birthday of one of television’s most prolific creators–I’ve put together a list in honor of his second classic series. Obviously BBC’s The Office changed television and remains one of the greatest comedies in tube history, but when co-creators Gervais and Stephen Merchant produced Extras for BBC and HBO, it turned into arguably an even better show. That’s a debate for another day–but as Extras followed a pair of lowly film extras in their pursuit of stardom, a celebrity guest star appeared in and defined each episode.
Gervais’s Andy Millman and Ashley Jensen’s Maggie were the heart and soul of that series but the big name guest stars who made asses of themselves in each edition were what kept things morbidly interesting. Here’s my list of the Top Five best Extras guest stars:
Honorable Mention – Sir Ian McKellan
It’s one thing to see accomplished American actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro debasing themselves on film but it’s another to see a refined British icon like Ian McKellan do it. When McKellan appeared on Extras directing a “gay play” (as Andy calls it) in season two, it was clear the series had legitimate cred across the pond. Without question the best part is when Sir Ian explains acting to Andy.
#5 – Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller appeared in the show’s premiere episode and immediately set the bar for future guest stars. On the show, he’s directing a bum-out war drama–meanwhile treating his cast like garbage and constantly throwing around the opening weekend box office numbers from his films (“Along Came Polly? Opens to $32 million.”). Stiller’s most dick-ish moment? Ripping the guy a new one whose life the film was based on.
#4 – Daniel Radcliffe
In the midst of becoming the world’s biggest child star, Daniel Radcliffe appeared on Extras attempting to woo Maggie with tales of his wild offscreen debauchery. Like when he tells her, “I’ve done it with a girl…intercourse wise.” It’s a painfully awkward episode, just as all the best from this series are.
#3 – Patrick Stewart
Perhaps more than any other actor on this list, the classy Patrick Stewart makes himself look completely ridiculous. Stripping away all the sophistication he’s built over his legendary career, Stewart explains the awful premise of a new screenplay he’s writing to Andy–and the sad thing is, this will probably be made into a real National Lampoons movie one of these days… “I’ve seen everything!”
#2 – Kate Winslet
Oscar magnet Kate Winslet appeared on Extras season one prior to winning any of her coveted awards–explaining in the episode that she simply hadn’t played a mentally handicapped person yet. In this entry, Maggie is struggling with a boyfriend who likes dirty talk–enter Winslet who gives an unabashed lesson on the art of phone sex. Her euphemisms are king, and I’ll never think of “Polishing an Oscar” the same way again.
#1 – Orlando Bloom
When the Orlando Bloom episode came up, I have to admit my expectations were low. Who would expect the teen idol to actually be funny on such an edgy series? Bloom shows up HUGE, trying to crack the Rubik’s cube that is Maggie when she admits to not finding him attractive. The guy is so desperate to prove his sexyness that he pulls out a British teen tabloid ranking their sexiest stars and feigns embarrassment at his name being on top–while also letting slip some brutal words about Johnny Depp.
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