Marcia Allen says she didn't set out to appear in "The Informant!" She just thought the producers might want to use her '65 Mustang.
Not long ago, Marcia Allen received a phone call from her daughter-in-law. She had seen Allen on TV, in a promotion for the movie “The Informant!”
Set in central Illinois with a few filming locations in Springfield, the film tells the real-life story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a high-ranking Archer Daniels Midland employee who blew the whistle on price fixing at his company.
Later, when Allen was talking to her daughter, she learned she was in the full trailer for the film.
It’s just a single shot, perhaps one-and-a-half seconds. But at about 1:45 in, there she is wearing a blue blazer and looking incredulous as an FBI raid unfolds during dinner.
In a recent telephone interview, Allen said she didn’t set out to be in the movie herself. Last year, she and her significant other answered a call for older vehicles, thinking the producers might be interested in using their classic cars. “I have a ’65 Mustang, and he’s got a ’63 Chevy,” she said.
When she saw a newscast on the production a few days later, it appeared as though the producers had selected all the cars they’d need, so Allen figured that was that.
But then they called seeking extras for a scene set in a dining room at the Illini Country Club (a representative of Party Creations said the Springfield company made the floral arrangements for that scene).
Extras were told to wear clothes and a hairstyle from the early 1990s, when “The Informant!” is set. There was a dressing room that had extra period clothing should it be necessary.
Did Allen have to borrow that blue blazer from the film crew?
“Oh heck no, I was running around like a mad woman trying to find something,” Allen said. “They told you to bring at least two outfits that would work, and I was fortunate enough that I borrowed something from my neighbor — God bless her — that worked out really well.”
On that day last year, the cast and crew finished filming at a Holiday Inn near Decatur and came to the Illini Country Club. Allen was seated at the table next to Damon’s.
“It was awesome,” Allen said. “They told us not to talk to them because they were in their mode of working and we weren’t supposed to break their concentration.”
She remembers that the scene was filmed in only two or three takes (though Joseph Langfelder, who called to say he was also in the background at the country club, remembers 15-20 takes).
“I’m really surprised that I was in that — I figured I’d be on the cutting room floor,” Allen said.
FBI agents played by Scott Bakula and Joel McHale enter the dining room and tell Damon’s character that he and a co-worker at the table are under arrest.
“And then they kind of pan over where I’m at,” Allen said.
No one warned her that would happen.
“They told us to have a surprised look on our face when they came in,” Allen said. “We were sitting there at the table pretending to eat and drink — they gave us grape juice or something, it wasn’t real (wine).”
Allen said she can’t remember who was behind the camera, but there’s a good chance it was director Steven Soderbergh. Since “Traffic” (2001), Soderbergh has been the cinematographer on the films he directs.
“This shows you how naive I am about some of this stuff: I didn’t even realize who he was,” Allen said. “His face looked familiar, and I didn’t even realize until afterwards who it was.”
State Journal-Register writer Brian Mackey can be reached at email@example.com.
Marcia Allen appears in the trailer for "The Informant!" at 1:45: