For sophomore Kelly Key, the latest Cheap Seats movie “Evan Almighty” was not simply a dollar’s worth of entertainment; instead it was her campus-wide movie debut. During the summer of 2006, Kelly Key and her father read in their local paper about open casting calls for the movie “Evan Almighty,” part of which was being filmed in her hometown of Crozet, VA.
Waiting hours in queue, Key and her father finally reached the front of the line and were able to fill out information cards complete with a photograph and acting history. They both received a callback a few weeks later.
Key started filming the first week of summer vacation after her senior year of high school. With twelve-hour work-days, it was an intense beginning to her summer break. “I had to wake up at 5:30 on Monday morning,” she recalled, “it was really early… But they served us the best food I had ever had.”
Despite the excess of culinary delights, there was still a lot of work that had to be done. Key began each day in hair and wardrobe. She was allowed to do her own, but it was inspected before she was free to leave. Key also had her outfits in duplicate, one set of clothes was her “dry set” and the other was her “wet set.”
Much of the filming took place in a new neighborhood. “They actually built a life-sized ark in the middle of the neighborhood,” she stated. “Three-fourths of it was real, and the last one-fourth they digitally produced.” The main character’s house was also constructed just for this movie. Although Key admits that it was “just a shell of a house… but there were Hummers inside! And I got to see those up close.” The filming that was shot of the inside of Evan’s house was done at a different location.
Key found it quite interesting to see how they would film snippets from different locations and then weave them all together into a seamless movie. She had a unique perspective of this process as her father was also involved in the filming. They would oftentimes be filming different scenes at different locations, and at the end of the day they would swap stories. Key’s father has at least ten scenes where you can see him on screen, while Key has two close ups.
In one scene, Key had to stand under a crane which had a giant sprinkler attached to it. She described the difficulties of it and said that there was “mud up to my knees.” Being in a “wet” scene, however, did have its perks. “I got paid extra that day” stated Key, “because I was in a rain scene.”
This scene is actually one of the scenes that made the cut into the film. Wearing a light blue shirt, Key is looking up to the sky, hands raised, when it begins to rain. “It is one of my two close-ups.” Key stated, “There were thousands of extras, so I was lucky to be able to get in it.” During that scene Key kept reminding herself to remember to “make good expressions.”
Her second scene comes when one of the neighbors says “No Captain Ahab, your time has come!” She saw them setting up for that scene, and jumped in; she can be seen standing behind the neighbor. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of initiative to become famous.
When asked her about the cast, Key had many humorous stories to tell concerning the stars of the show. “You know how Lauren Graham always is drinking coffee in Gilmore Girls? Well, whenever I saw her she was always walking around with coffee too.” Key fondly remembered that Graham was “really nice to the extras” and would “come over and talk” to them.
She also saw Wanda Sykes and John Goodman up close. “I got within 10 feet of him” she remarked excitedly, “He was the nicest.” Throughout filming he would have to spend a lot of time standing on top of the ark with his hands up. At one point, Key states, he “began to do the YMCA, and would also do dances at lunchtime.”
One time, one of her “extra” friends saw Steve Carell walking around on set in his boxers, she stopped him and said, “So that’s what’s under all those robes,” To which he replied, “This is it!” Key described him as being very “friendly… He talked to everyone.”
Key also got to know Ruth Williamson over the course of her time filming. Williamson has done a lot of work on Broadway, and was also in “Legally Blonde 2” and “Psycho Beach Party.” Key enjoyed hearing her stories. Overall, Key described the cast and extras as being friendly.
The first time Kelly saw herself on screen was after it had come out in theaters. She got a text from one of her friends who went to see the movie and saw her in it. After hearing the news, she and her friends went to the theaters to watch her movie debut. So, next time you are at Blockbuster looking for a comedy, check out “Evan Almighty” with guest appearance by Mary Wash’s very own Kelly Key.