It’s the type of thing that only happens in the movies.
For Jesse Heiman, he’s quickly become the envy of millions, after kissing supermodel Bar Refaeli in the new Super Bowl comercial for Internet giant GoDaddy.
“It felt like winning a million bucks,” the geeky actor told Celebuzz about his on-screen smoochfest.
But this is not the first major moment of his career. Heiman’s acting resume includes roles in the Oscar-winning film The Social Network and the teen flick American Pie. He’s even worked with Steven Spielberg in Catch Me If You Can (incidentally, starring Refaeli’s ex Leonardo DiCaprio).These days, you can catch Heiman on Glee, but he’s far from being the most recognizable face in Hollywood.
Alas, he is a “background actor,” one of the legions of anonymous performers who are paid a minimum wage to lurk around in some of cinema’s biggest films.
That was until last year, when a YouTube mélange of Heiman’s remarkable 11-year screen career revealed exactly how prolific the actor has become.
“People keep asking me, ‘Have you seen this video?’” he said. “Seen it? I’ve lived it!”
In an exclusive interview, the 32-year-old dished on his fame at a small cafe on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles.
“It was the number one, number six and number eight top videos watched in Sweden last week,” he said of the YouTube video.
A remarkable 1,500,000 hits followed in just days, while the video quickly spread worldwide via Twitter and Facebook, turning Heiman’s seemingly anonymous life upside down. “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” he said.
Set to the rousing score from Requiem For A Dream, the Internet video, which runs just over two minutes, is introduced by the words: “Do you recognize this brilliant actor? According to the myth he appears in every movie and TV-show ever created. I found a few of them.”
While the claim isn’t quite true, the portly Bostonian has made a staggering 56 appearances in mainstream movies and television shows since his 2001 debut as Petey, the unnoticeable trombone player American Pie 2, making him one of the most ubiquitous actors in Hollywood.
“Did you see Catch Me If You Can? Spielberg is my hero. The reason I got into acting. He directed me on Catch,” Heiman said, as casually as Harrison Ford might talk about Raiders. “It was one the best moments of my life.”But since appearing in numerous cult favorites and box-office successes, from Old School to Spiderman, Heiman has become an unlikely talisman for big-name directors like Michael Bay – who hand-picked the actor for two Transformers films, fueling the his quite remarkable CV.
After graduating from a Texan University in 2000, Heiman surprised friends with a move to Los Angeles to embark on an acting career. After American Pie 2, he reprised his role as an awkward-looking student in the college romp Van Wilder. But it wasn’t until 2002 that he would get his biggest break: peering over Kirsten Dunst’s shoulder in Spiderman.
Drive-by appearances followed on the smaller screen, gracing such shows as Entourage, The O.C., Arrested Development, and a blink-and-you-miss-it spot on My Name Is Earl.
“I’m a character actor,” he said. “I think I could become one of the great character actors like Jonah Hill.”
The physical similarity is undeniable, but the two performers are far from friends.
“I think I’m nicer than Jonah. I’ve met him, he’s a bit of a . . .well let’s not go there. I don’t think he respects background actors . . . I prefer to think of myself as more like a John Candy kind of actor, anyway. If there’s ever a Planes, Trains and Automobiles reboot or remake I could see myself in that.”According to Heiman, the key to his success is his ability to “play it cool.”
“If you can show up on time and don’t be all like, ‘Woo hoo! I’m on a movie set!’ then you might get asked back,” he said. “That’s if you don’t get bored.”
For The Social Network, Heiman worked for 13 hours straight at the University of Southern California. On director David Fincher, the actor said, “[He's] a very serious guy — a genius. It took a few takes but he happened to put me in a great spot. I have a great track record with big directors — they always want to put me right centre.”
Despite his lengthy relationship with Hollywood, Heiman is still waiting for that big break.
“Over time you can make money, but I don’t get any residuals,” he explained. “I get a base rate for a union actor at SAG. Extra work is $139 for eight hours work, plus there are meal penalties and transportation allowances.”
“You know Jonah Hill’s already made millions of dollars, but that’s not my life yet,” he says. “I’m just praying for a speaking role.”
While GoDaddy’s Superbowl commercial may not have granted Jesse his wish, it certainly has made the actor a living legend.
Do you think Jesse Heiman’s career will take off after the rest of the world sees his GoDaddy commercial with Bar Refaeli? What do you think of his comments on life as an extra? Be sure to check out the gallery, above, for exclusive photos of Heiman, and weigh in below.
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