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hitting a few balls so they could shoot him and use it to run over the credits and in other long shots. “I knew Colin couldn’t do it, so I was happy to.” So he did, and thus was born the Hollywood career of Joey Hines. Hines’ brief but brilliant arc in the film about a former pro golfer who fakes his own death and invents the identity of Arthur Newman, golf pro, didn’t end with a few long shots of him hitting golf balls. That was only the beginning. When a production assistant was looking for extras to fill out a scene, Hines recalled hearing, “That guy, put him in the bar scene. He looks like a golf pro in that pink sweater.” “They were pointing at me,” says Hines. “I was just standing there in my usual work clothes thinking, ‘He looks like a golf pro? I should, I am a golf pro.’” They sent him to wardrobe. Wardrobe sent him straight back. “They said I looked the part.” Go figure. Hines had to do more than just look good in his pink sweater. Firth turned to him for actual golf advice. “The scene where he shows Emily Blunt how to putt, before they started shooting, he pulled me aside and I knew what he was going to say: He didn’t know how to putt. So I showed him how to do it, then I showed him how I’d teach someone,” Hines says. Then he gets up and shows me, standing opposite, walking through the steps of holding the putter, wrapping the fingers and striking the imaginary ball. “I’d do it just like this, showing you while you mirrored me, then we’d putt and I’d make corrections. We started going over it and the director came over and said it just wouldn’t work.” Hines knew exactly where he was going: Firth behind Blunt, his arms wrapped around her, them swaying in unison hitting ball after ball into a cup a few feet away. “Oh, it’s sexy and it looks better on screen, but if I did that, I’d be fired.” Flash forward to a lesson a few days later. Hines is on the practice tee when his phone rings. “I don’t normally have my phone, but that day, I did for some reason. Anyway, it rings and I pick up. A voice says, ‘Joey, it’s Colin. I got a problem.’” Firth was shooting that choking scene and he needed to hit a ball out of a greenside bunker and land it within putting distance of the hole. All while a crowd of extras ringed the green. But he can’t swing a club, much less hit a ball. Hines left for the set and some emergency golf pro-ing. “When I got there and saw what he needed to do — hit out of the bunker with that picture-perfect splash of sand following the ball — I knew we were in trouble.” He grabbed a club and a ball, dropped it into the bunker and hit out the perfect shot. The sand splashed, the ball arced high, landed, and rolled within easy putting distance. The director saw Hines’ shot and ran over. “That. That. I need him to do that.” He pointed from Firth to the ball and back. “No way. I told him no way and he about lost it,” says Hines. “I’ve played for forty years and hit a hell of a lot of shots out of bunkers and that’s not the kind of thing you can show someone — especially someone who’s not a golfer — to do in a few minutes.” Still, he tried, or rather, they tried. Hines set up ball after ball in the The Art & Soul of Wilmington

bunker and had Firth take swings at it. He hit the top of the ball, missed to the right and left, grounded the club in the sand and knocked it from his own hand. “He couldn’t hit shit,” Hines says with a laugh. “I’ve never seen anything like it. We hit seventy-five, 100 balls and he dribbled maybe twenty of them out of the bunker. No way he was going to hit it out, carry the sand, and land it on the green. I thought he’d kill an extra.” Hines got to thinking about that “Hollywood magic” Firth talked about the first day they met. “I got an idea and took the club back into the bunker. ‘Film this,’ I said, then I hit that shot again. And again. And again while they filmed. I told the director that we could use my shot, my ball landing and the crowd’s reaction, and fake Colin hitting the ball. The effects folks could just put a ball in later. He liked that.” Hollywood magic. So Hines got a piece of plywood, put it in the bunker out of the camera’s view, and built little volcanoes of sand. “Me and Colin practiced swinging, practiced that finishing pose,” he mocks a swing and freezes at the perfect moment. “Then I had him hit the sand volcanoes, whacking nothing but sand into the air. When he had that about right, I made some more volcanoes, got out of the shot and they started rolling.” They got the shot they needed. Firth swings and sand flies and though the swing’s a little awkward, it’s passable. “After my day of being an extra — and I do mean a day, it seemed like twelve hours for a twelve-second scene — and coaching Colin, easily my toughest client, through those shots, we joked that I’d never take up acting as a career if he didn’t take up golfing as his. It was an easy deal to make.” b Februar y 2015 •



February Salt 2015  

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

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