If you watch the new Clint Eastwood movie, keep your eyes open for a pre-teen in a Norcross baseball tee.
Sam Collins, a sixth grader at Greater Atlanta Christian Schools and a Norcross resident, landed a speaking role in "Trouble with the Curve," a movie about a baseball scout who tries to reconnect with his daughter while on his last recruiting trip. The movie stars Eastwood, the scout; Amy Adams, his daughter; and Justin Timberlake, a former baseball player who wants to be a sports announcer.
Collins is featured in a scene with Timberlake about 20 minutes into the movie. Playing as "Kid #1," Collins is a baseball player in a pickup game that takes place in a cow pasture, which was filmed in the Auburn and Winder area.
In the scene, Timberlake's character is driving along the road, notices the game, gets out and starts to announce the plays. Collins' character, who "trash-talks" with the pitcher about "A-Rod," steps up to the plate, hits the ball and rounds the plates, which were made out of Krispy Kreme boxes. The announcer gets so riled up and crazy about the game that by the time Collins reaches third base, everyone is staring at Timberlake.
Being "Kid #1" (which is his name in the credits, right underneath Timberlake's) is Collins first time ever acting in front of a camera. He's performed at GAC in theatre roles such as the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz" and the Genie in "Aladdin," but he wasn't really looking to grab a spot on film.
His family first heard about the role from a friend, who said Collins would be perfect for it because the producers are looking for child extras who were also baseball players. Collins, who has played centerfield and as a catcher for the Norcross baseball team at Pinckneyville Park since he was 4, didn't decide to go until the last minute.
After filming the potential extras on iPhones (the professional cameras broke), the movie crew called Collins a few weeks later and asked if he could come back to read for them. He received a few more callbacks, and he ended up getting the part.
Filming took over the course of just one day in March, and Collins said he was treated almost like movie star royalty: He had his own trailer, had access to the craft services, and there were three people tending to him, keeping an umbrella over his head and grabbing a jacket for him because it was drizzling.
"I was like, 'I don't need all this!'" he said, laughing. "And they said, 'No, we insist, we insist!'"
Collins said he learned much from his experience, especially about how movies are done. He didn't realize some action shots are filmed differently than how they appear in the final product, and he didn't expect how many times they had to re-shoot scenes. He also had to say his lines repeatedly when his character was off-camera, to help other actors when they're being filmed.
Would he do it again, though?
"Oh, definitely," he said. "It was a really good experience."
Since "Trouble with the Curve," Collins has been taking classes at the Atlanta Workshop Players, and his mother said they're trying to get an agent. She hopes he'll have screen time in other films, too, but right now they're just trying to see if he'll like the acting world.
Check out Collins in "Trouble with the Curve," out in theaters now.
This story first appeared in the Norcross Patch.