Tucumcarian finds his place on big screen

by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

With everyone said to have 15 minutes of fame, Michael Pack figures he’s got 14 minutes and 50 seconds left.
But Pack, 44, is an aspiring actor hoping for more.

Pack got his first flicker of the limelight as an extra in the remake of the classic horror flick, “The Hitcher.”

“I was sitting in a cafe and got 10 seconds of film time,” said Pack.

Part of the film was shot in Moriarty at the Longhorn Cafe, which is where Pack said he said he sat in a booth and sipped coffee while one of the film’s stars raced by.

The original horror thriller film, which came out in 1986, was directed by Robert Harmon and written by Eric Red. The film stars Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The remake, which was released in January, is from filmaker Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company, which also produced “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Amityville Horror.” It stars Sean Bean, Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton and Neal McDonough.

The plot involves a couple who pick up a hitchhiker and the mysterious hitcher turns out to be one of their worst nightmares. The name of the film’s Web site is a play on the movie theme: NeverPickUpStrangers.com.

“I haven’t seen the film yet,” Pack said. And since it was his first gig as an extra, he didn’t bring his camera to document his initiation into film.

He plays the part of the trucker, which was a natural.
“My dad’s a retired trucker, and my brother, James, is one also,” Pack said. “I just borrowed by brother’s clothes. I got a hat took off the logo and dirtied it up. I ran it around the engine compartment and rubbed some mustard and ketchup on it. When I went to see wardrobe, the guy said, ‘Excellent.’”

The one scene took two days, with six takes per day, to get just what the director wanted, Pack said.
“They changed the name of the cafe, of course,” Pack said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Seeing everything firsthand took a little of the movie magic away, but Pack said he’s definitely got the moviemaking acting bug.

Pack is a retired U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. who has returned to Tucumcari, and said he now has time to pursue the opportunities in the film industry in New Mexico. Pack is the son of James F. and Alice Pack of Tucumcari.

“I got curious one night running around the internet and I found the www.nmfilm.com. It was right around the time, I retired from the service. So, I went to a casting call in Albuquerque.”
Pack had some acting experience from his Tucumcari High School (1981) days, when he was involved in several Stage 66 productions, he said.

For the remake of “The Hitcher,” Pack said, he was one of two extras selected from seven auditioning for the part.
He earned $8 an hour on his two-day gig.

“I want to get my Screen Actors Guild card,” Pack said, adding that he’ll have to put in more hours and be selected for more parts.

Working to add up those hours, Pack said, he planned to be in Albuquerque today to audition for another movie.

The film is currently playing in theaters in Albuquerque and Amarillo, and showings have not been announced yet for Tucumcari.