“Ready for my close-up, Mr. Gilroy!”
KUSI anchor Lisa Remillard didn’t know she made the final cut until I tweeted the info her way. “I thought for sure they would cut my scene,” Remillard laughs. “Even though they were so nice, I had no hope that they were going to keep me in the movie.”
Remillard is just one of the many news reporters cast to play themselves in Nightcrawler, the fictional story of a dangerous drifter, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who becomes an overnight sensation as a blood-thirsty TV news cameraman.
Remillard started as weekend anchor of KUSI’s Good Morning, San Diego in March 2014. She was working in Vegas before landing the job in San Diego and took a year off to look after her ailing father, who succumbed to cancer last month. “I spent a lot of time at home with him — which was great — and auditioned to play reporter roles in various movies and TV shows, because obviously I am not an actress.”
When the Nightcrawler audition came up, she was originally chosen to play one of the anchors in the studio. “When it came down to it,” she says, “they needed another actress for that role.” She had the look they were going for, “and that’s how it happened. I auditioned and got it!”
She read the script and was impressed “by the concept, something I hadn’t seen in a movie in a long time. I knew that Jake Gyllenhaal was attached and that he would make a great crazy person. A lot of L.A. anchors were already on board, so I figured if they were doing it, it would be cool if I could do it, too.”
Her bit was filmed in November 2013. “When I walked on set, [writer-director Dan Gilroy] came right over to me,” Remillard recalls. “He not only knew my first and last name, he knew how to say it properly — which rarely anybody does. He had seen my work and expressed his trust by asking me to tell him how the scene should look. He even let me write my own dialogue.”
Local anchor’s big-screen cameo role
KUSI anchor Lisa Remillard's big screen nod in Nightcrawler, all 17 seconds of it.
How does Remillard come to terms with the film’s scathing portrait of how she and fellow reporters make a living? She concedes that the film “is a horrible depiction, at least in the eyes of the filmmakers. The fact of the matter is, that is not how it really is. It’s an interesting way of how others perceive it to be. When a stringer delivers video, we either use it or we don’t. It doesn’t make or break our newscast, and I have never worked in a shop where it does. Very rarely have I personally used a stringer video, particularly in the manner in which the film portrays it.”
<em>Nightcrawler</em> bolsters a fear that’s rattled my core since first it became clear that digital was here to stay: every schmuck with a video camera thinks they can direct. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Louis Bloom, a determined drifter who taps his inner-video journalist to become a successful network news stringer. Don’t let his unblinking doe-eyes, hands-in-pockets demeanor, and proverbial gift of gab fool you. Within minutes of meeting Bloom, screenwriter and first-time director Dan Gilroy casts a purposeful light on his character’s basest instincts. What follows is a gritty urban comedy noir, a scathing, <em>Network</em>-worthy disembowelment of television newsgatherers that will leave you craving a shower. From its airtight script, seamless performances, and stunning night cinematography (praise be to Robert Elswit), no American film this year has reminded me why I fell in love with movies in the first place quite like this incandescent masterwork. With memorable supporting work by Renee Russo and Bill Paxton.
I was in the audience when Remillard saw her big-screen debut. “It is a big deal, it is exciting, but in reality it’s a few seconds,” the modest Ms. R responds. Were it my kisser plastered across the screen, I’ve have caterwauled louder than Arsensio’s audience attending a taping of The Jerry Springer Show. Not a peep was heard over my shoulder when the ever-so cool reporter hit the screen. When asked why so quiet, consummate professional Remillard scoffed, “Act like you’ve been here before, man!”