While some actors get lucky and land big roles early in their careers, other actors have to work long and hard to eventually reach the top. Just ask NCIS: Los Angeles actor Eric Christian Olsen, who revealed during a San Diego Comic-Con panel celebrating CBS actors that one of his earliest roles involved getting killed off as a minor character on the set of Pearl Harbor... again and again. Here's the full story from Olsen himself:
My part, I got killed on Day One. I was only hired for one day. But there was so much going on and there were so many people, they just brought me back the next day. And then he killed me about three weeks later. And I kept thinking, 'Oh, that's it for me.' But he kept bringing me back. So, they killed me like four times in the movie, but I stayed on the movie for like 2 ½ months. I didn't want to tell anybody. I'd just say, 'Should I come back tomorrow?' They're like, 'Sure, why not?'
If you watch the movie, I die like four times.
If you've ever seen behind-the-scenes footage for some of the biggest blockbuster films and movies, you should know there are a ton of side characters and extras on the sets of most films, at least during certain scenes. Actors will often play different types of parts in multiple scenes in projects, because most of the time we're really not paying that close attention to the people in the background. However, it's still pretty rare for a person to play different characters who keep getting killed off in a movie. It's actually, frankly, hilarious that this was one of Eric Christian Olsen's early gigs.
I also love that Olsen says he felt like he was pulling a fast one with the casting people, signing on for a one-day gig and parlaying that into something that lasted for weeks. That's one way to make your paycheck a bit fatter.
By the time Olsen landed the gig in Pearl Harbor, he had already had roles on ER and Get Real. But it is gigs like getting killed off four times on Pearl Harbor that led him to bigger and better roles in films and on TV and eventually led to him landing the coveted NCIS: Los Angeles gig. Apparently, you have to die a few times onscreen before they'll give you 146 episodes to work with.
Allowing the same actor to die numerous times is actually pretty low on the list of problems Pearl Harbor actually had, not that we're counting or anything. The movie has its own honest trailer, in fact, and you can check it out here. Or catch Eric Christian Olsen back in action when NCIS: Los Angeles returns to the TV schedule this fall.