Posted by: lizardeyephoto | November 5, 2010

My Extremely Biased review of “The Conspirator”

Last fall, I saw a casting call for men with facial hair of all ages (obviously not small children) and women sizes 0-4. Yay! That was me! The “women sizes 0-4″ of course, so I went to the mall at the time and date specified with a photograph of myself and my husband (who actually has a Van Dyke, but wasn’t looking for acting work) and stood in line, not knowing what to expect.

Eventually, we got to the front of the line and a lady asked me to come over and hand her the picture and the form I’d been asked to fill out while standing in line. The form wanted to know my basic info…address, age, height, weight, any special skills I might have, etc. And that was it!

About a week later I got called to come in for a costume fitting. There was a huge room filled with Civil War era clothing. It was amazing. A flurry of costume designers and staff quickly processed me and went and got a long green and white checked dress, hoop skirt, boots, a hat, gloves and a shawl for me. Soon I was all decked out in “my outfit” that i would soon come to love (and hate!) for the 4 times that I was to wear it again.

Fairly soon after that I got called asking if I wanted to come to the second day of shooting. Of course I said yes and on that day, I got up in the dark and drove to the base camp, as they called it, and was ushered into a group dressing room where a bag with all of my afore mentioned clothing was there waiting for me in a bag with my name on it! I got dressed and was sent to hair and makeup. In the hair trailer I was not met with the warm arms of all of the other crew. One lady in particular kind of went off on me, about the length of my hair. “How did she get through casting!?” she exclaimed.  Well, I did and this problem was easily solved by attaching a wig under my bonnet and braiding it up into a bun. That being said, the first day was very rough. There were only 4 of us called that day and we never got used. We sat around and watched everything which was very fascinating but that’s all that happened. I was left speechless when I was at the snack table and James McAvoy was there and threw something in the trash and missed, nearly hitting me. He apologized but I froze like a deer in the headlights.

After that I was called back 3 more times. I met some amazing people during those days. We had a lot of sitting around time and we all formed a close bond. In fact, since then we’ve met up on facebook and a lot of us keep in touch on a regular basis and this Saturday even, we are scheduled to go have dinner at a local BBQ place.

This leads me to the present day.  On November 3rd around noon, I got wind of the “secret” film being shown at the Savannah Film Festival. My friends that were going didn’t seem to be able to hook me up with a pass so I began to actually feel sick and panic. I needed to see this movie SO BADLY that I almost didn’t know what to do with myself.

Luckily, my husband works at SCAD in a department privy to certain intel and was able to find a pass for me to go to the movie!!!

I went that night, alone, to the theater and found a seat. Most of the people there knew what was happening, or being show, rather. I had my Conspirator t-shirt on underneath my jacket.

After several speeches and awards were handed out, they finally started the movie! Being prone to anxiety attacks, I had to work very hard to keep myself from losing it, I was THAT excited. Almost, immediately, the film dove into some high action scenes…I WAS IN ONE OF THOSE SCENES!! Well at least I think I was. I was there when they filmed it, but I left early that night and knew that it was reshot after I left. It was very difficult to look for myself and my friends and try to follow the storyline. I knew so many things about what was going on from the other side! Where the cameras were, what people were standing where and so on.

All of the scenes I was in were filmed outside, so when the movie cut to anything on the interior I could relax and absorb the show.

The story mostly held true to the history books I’d read on the subject and to me it wasn’t boring at all. Just the right amount of action and intrigue and frustration at what was happening to the characters.

For me, personally, it was completely impossible to NOT see Savannah everywhere instead of Washington, DC. The audience of locals laughed several times when the Capitol building was shown in the distance near Fort Pulaski. Hilarious! Non-locals would not know this though and not find it amusing.

The performances were solid, but my black wicker bonnet with glass beads and feathers is off to James McAvoy. It was totally his show. He had the most screen time and made use of it. Was it an award winning performance? Probably not, but it was good.

HOWEVER, if anyone is going to win an award for this, it needs to go to the costume design, set design and hair and make-up.

The story was very pertinent to today’s government climate. People being torn in two directions, not knowing who to trust, conspiracy, corruptness…I wish it was showing in theaters right now!

Anyway, I was very pleased and still am in disbelief that I actually got to see this 6 months in advance. I need to see it a few more times to look for myself and then finally to really watch it for what it is. I cannot truthfully give it a rating other than “pretty darn good” at this point because  I was so distracted by everything and excited.

Cannot wait until I can see it again!



  1. Thanks for the review. It’s good to hear from a “real” person instead of a critic. 😉 And what a treat to be an extra in the film!

    Just curious why, even though you singled out McAvoy’s performance, you don’t think it’s awards worthy. Something to do w/ the performance itself or is it not showy/dramatic enough?

    • 🙂 thanks for writing! I singled out McAvoy’s performance because he was in nearly every scene and acted his part better than the others. His accent was good, but not flawless. And I also singled him out because I think he’s super cute and I got to see his face blown up about 10ft high. 😉 Though, Tom Wilkinson and Colm Meaney did some outstanding supporting actor work.
      The performances didn’t make me say WOW or anything. Don’t get me wrong, I do think everything was great…but just not WOW.

      AND, to be honest, I probably should see the movie again to make any for sure judgments because I was so amazingly busy looking at the extras, the scenery, the buildings, etc! hahaha

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