Job with that extra special something

PUBLISHED: 09:55 23 January 2008 | UPDATED: 22:14 26 October 2009

Mirek and a make-up girl on the set of Fred Claus

Mirek and a make-up girl on the set of Fred Claus

WORKING among stars of TV has become something of a family business for a couple of extras, who just happen to be father and son. Mirek Hanak and son Joseph, from WGC, both boast an impressive list of films and TV programmes they have appeared in as extra

Having a tete-a-tete with footie legend Bob Wilson

WORKING among stars of TV has become something of a family business for a couple of extras, who just happen to be father and son.

Mirek Hanak and son Joseph, from WGC, both boast an impressive list of films and TV programmes they have appeared in as extras. At times they have even appeared together.

The latest big screen adventure for 62-year-old Mirek, who was born in the former Czechoslovakia, and came to the UK in the 1950s, has been Fred Claus.

But it was his son Joseph, 20, who was first in the business, having enjoyed a fruitful journey in acting since he was child.

Mirek among a trio of elves in Fred Claus

Mirek said: "Joseph started his acting at the age of nine, and he joined the Barn Theatre in WGC where he learned a lot about acting.

"He has passed City and Guilds in Music and Drama exams, level 5 and level 6. He also took drama as an A-level at his school and enjoyed that."

Former Monk's Walk student Joseph has appeared in films such as Impact and Bodily Harm, and worked with Tom Hanks when filming a scene on The Da Vinci Code.

Mirek said: "Tom Hanks was one of the most famous actors Joseph has worked with and he had a really funny time shooting with him.

"Tom told Joseph off for being on his phone on set, but he found him very genuine and enjoyed it."

Joseph's success is what eventually led to Mirek himself getting involved with acting.

The Digswell Park Road resident would travel to the film studios along with Joseph, and one day found a break himself.

"He was a member of a few film agencies and when he was called to participate in various films, commercials or even modelling, I used to take him around London studios and waited, sometimes the whole day for him, until he finished."

"When he was asked to act in The Da Vinci Code I told the agency, that I will bring him in my car.

"They said that the producers could use me and my car in the film. Eventually they didn't need my car but they used me.

"I offered myself the next time they called Joseph, and I was told that I had to register as a background artist; so I did - and the rest is history."

Since that day in 2005 Mirek has appeared in films such as Run, Fat Boy, Run and Borat, as well as BBC soap EastEnders.

So he has experienced working with some well-known stars.

He said: "I had a fun day working at EastEnders. June Brown, who plays Dot, is a really nice person.

"While I was there she was having trouble with her car, so I joked with her that she should take it to Phil Mitchell's garage so he can take a look at it.

"Quite often the actors can be stuck up and will not speak to the extras but she was more than friendly.

"In the canteen we ate our lunch next to Wendy Richard (Pauline). Unlike in any other studios we had to pay for our lunch - so much for the BBC generosity!"

Mirek also noted how life as an extra isn't always so glamorous, and said that Ricky Gervais' comedy series, Extras, was a true portrayal of how they were treated on set.

He ranks Dustin Hoffman as one of the nicest stars he has worked with, but admits he hasn't always got along with all the stars.

He said: "Me and Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) did not see eye to eye, and many of the cast of EastEnders were unwilling to speak to me or the other extras.

"They could be Z-list stars but they still think they are too good for you.

"The best time I had was on the set for a programme called Tripping Over. I was treated with a lot of respect there, and enjoyed working with all the staff.

"Life as an extra is not always great, you can be messed around a lot when some shows decide to re-shuffle things.

"I was due to appear on The Jonathan Ross Show, but at the last minute I was dropped. But you just have to show your availability. If you turn them down once they won't ask you again."

The father and son have appeared together in commercials for Typhoo Tea and The Co-Op store, and Mirek hopes that one day the two will work together again.

Joseph is currently taking film studies at the University of Chester, and his proud father thinks his son will be involved with acting and films in some part in the future: "I don't know how serious Joseph will continue his acting, but I think he will go down the path of directing. My hopes are that Joseph fills his ambitions.

"He told me he wants to produce an advert in our homeland Czech Republic, for the beer Budweiser, which is called Budvar there.

"He wants us to appear in it together and maybe one day I could be known as the Budvar man!

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