That one time we were extras on Big Little Lies

When we first moved to Monterey, everyone associated our new home to “Big Little Lies” and asked me if that’s how the people really are haha no.. We actually did re-watch the first season and see some of the scenes from the show which were in our very neighborhood!

Flash back to just moving to Monterey in March of 2018. It was one of the first weekends we were in the area, and didn’t have any plans besides finishing up unpacking and getting the house straightened up. I wasn’t working at the time and Ryan’s semester had not started yet, so we both were free as a bird.

I went to a barre class and coffee date with a friend who told me about the “open casting” this coming weekend at a hotel that was just 10 minutes away from our house. I immediately called Ryan on my way home and half-jokingly-half-serious said we should go to the try-out and to my surprise he agreed.

The morning of we printed off our “headshots” LOL (I used the picture you see as my blog intro) and Ryan printed off a pic of him holding coconuts on a beach. Very official. We went to the Embassy Suites by Hilton Monterey Bay Seaside Hotel where the open casting was being held. It was advertised as starting at 10 am but we arrived around 9-9:15 to try to beat some traffic and I’m so glad we did! We got there and it was about an hour wait. When we left, the line wrapped around the building and about a quarter mile down the street, it was up to 6 hours to wait in line… NOPE!

So we get in line and it’s winding around the hotel lobby. Once we get closer we fill out this half sheet of paper asking our physical features like height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc.. and some of our interests like: what we do for fun, what car do we drive (lol?) and any other fun facts I guess. Ryan put down he liked to surf, was serving in the military, and drove a dodge ram truck with a surfboard rack. I put down I was a marathon runner, learned to play the piano, and drove a ford focus - my high school car hahaha (yes I still do).


We finally reach the front of the line only to find we sit in a big auditorium of about 100 other people and they tell us the details:

Thanks for coming. We are trying to film more of Monterey for the next season so will need a lot of different people for the outdoor scenes. We are looking for surfers and runners specifically and if you get called we will give you the details the night before. If you came with a partner and get called, let them know you guys came together and we will try to get you both in together.

That was pretty much it. We went up and handed in our forms with our pictures stapled to the front and said thank you to whoever took our paper and left. Not really a “try out” at all. We left and saw the line wrapped around the building.. I’ve never seen so many people in Monterey. People said they FLEW in from around the country and there were busses that drove up from LA just to go to this open casting. We laughed about going and totally felt like we just wasted our time and we would never get called out of all these people.


Fast forward to the middle of April. Ryan was actually out surfing and gets a voicemail from a Los Angeles number who was from the Rich King Casting for Big Little Lies wanting him to be a surfer extra!!! I was freaking out and he came home and gave them a call when we were sitting on the couch. He called them back and they immediately picked up and he said sure, he’d love to! And he mentioned how they said to let you know if he had come with someone else to the casting to try to get them (me) in. He said definitely and took down my name and number.

About a day later I got a call asking to be a runner extra and they wanted to use my car! LOL plot twist. They tell us they will send us an email with the details on what to wear and where to be 24 hours before. This is to keep the location secret and not have crazies coming to the set. I was ready for this FBI Mission.

The day comes and Ryan and I are actually in different scenes, so I was told to meet at this random parking lot around 11 am and Ryan around 2 pm. So I show up with Harrison (my ford focus) to the location and a white van shows up to come pick up about 8-10 of us. Sketchy. We honestly didn’t know where we were going or what the plan was. They take us to the trailer grounds - and we got to see “Reese Witherspoon” and “Nicole Kidman” on the trailers!! Also where hair and make up was and costume etc.. very cool! We filled out a form to get paid and signed a non-disclosure (about the scenes we were apart of) then they took us to costume. We had each brought 2-3 outfits to change into, as instructed, and pretty much everyone was good to go.. except for me lol. They changed my whole look and gave me everything from head to toe for their “boho-runner.” So I went back in the 'fitting trailer’ and changed into this:


Then we headed back to where we left our cars, I picked up my car (since he was the star of the show) and followed the van to the set location.

We were put in a break room and kind of just hung out until someone called our names or not. We were able to peak and watch the scenes be filmed. Shailene Woodley (Jane) said “Hi” to me and we were in the same room.. no big deal. Made eye contact with Meryl Streep and the little boy, Ziggy, was also there who was the cutest thing ever.

So the other extras and I were sitting in the room and waiting for our name to be called. A guy comes in and says, “Rachel?”

I jump out of my bones start imagining myself walking through the bright lights on the red carpet and signing autographs.

He says, “we need you to move your car..”

Guys. I kid you not.. My HIGH SCHOOL CAR - A 2006 FORD FOCUS with three holes in the bumper from someone rear-ending me was in every. single. shot. of this scene. They changed my license plate to California tags because I still have Maryland tags, and made me move it around to each parking spot - in front of all the cast (AKA MERYL STREEP) and with all the set equipment. I was driving so slowly and carefully to not hit anything and ruin the show LOL. The other cars that they had to choose from were Mercedes Benz, BMWs, new SUVs.. like WHAT?! WHY.

Anyways.. to move on, Meryl Streep also had a scene where she leaned up against Harrison (MY CAR) and TOUCHED MY KEYS.

….This is really my only claim to fame.

The rest of the day we just watched the scene and then they told us to go home hahaha. At least we got paid? Thank goodness I got a car wash for the first time since 2014 before I went in. Totally increasing the re-sell value for Harrison.


Ryan on the other hand.. he had a same situation in meeting at this sketchy parking spot, getting in a van with randos, signing paperwork, then coming to the scene. As we were leaving, Ryan’s group was coming and we got to see each other for a hot minute. We weren’t allowed to use our phones or take any pictures of the set (non-disclosure agreement) but I was “off duty” by this point and snuck back to get a picture of Ryan’s set. He actually got to be one of the few in the scene!! Hopefully we’ll see him run down the beach with his wetsuit and surfboard in the new season ;)


So there you have it.. our complete Big Little Lies anti-climactic adventure. Season 2 will be out on HBO in 2019 some time, with no set premiere date yet I don’t think.

It was really amazing to see every single TINY detail go into the set and scene. Each scene is filmed about 10+ times, which you can image takes so long to create the entire season / movie. I have a new appreciation for actors & actresses and especially the scene developers, filming and editing crew who ultimately puts everything together.

… still accepting autograph requests.