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Dowagiac grad appears in ‘Real Steel’

Published 10:32pm Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chris Hodshire spent 2 1/2 weeks of his 2010 summer vacation pursuing his “hobby,” film acting.
An extra’s life can be exhilarating, like when Hugh Jackman strikes up a conversation, but it can be demoralizing when your scenes get “edited” and wind up on the cutting room floor.
Happily for Hodshire, the No. 1 box office draw in America, “Real Steel,” an action-packed film directed by Shawn Levy and set in underground robot fight clubs in the near future, pleasantly “surprised” him.
The 1991 Dowagiac Union High School graduate saw “Real Steel” since it opened Oct. 7 and found he made it safely onto the big screen.
As a cowboy, no less.
“A robot fights a buffalo at a rodeo. I am a spectator in the rodeo,” Chris explained Tuesday night. “I am also in a part where the robot’s arm gets knocked off and three little girls pick it up — the movie director’s daughters — as well as a scene behind Hugh Jackman playing a guitar.
“Another part — featured role — right after Hugh Jackman is done with the fair and moving onto a new part of the movie. And a few other parts, including the main event at the end. Working in ‘Real Steel’ was an absolute blast, far more than I expected.”
Since his day job is teaching social work at Western Michigan University, it might be tempting to guess this is Hodshire’s movie debut, but he also appeared in 2009’s “Street Boss,” based on the true story of how the FBI brought down one of Detroit’s most notorious mobsters.
Actors included Nicholas Turturro and Vincent Pastore.
Hodshire, who also graduated from Southwestern Michigan College, had been a featured extra in “Street Boss” — a step above being an extra that sometimes includes talking lines.
Earlier in 2010, WMU ran a three-month television commercial featuring Hodshire and his son, both with lines.
“Many people from Dowagiac never knew about his involvement in the movie until a few days ago because of the contract Chris had with the company Dream Works,” according to his wife, Lydia. “Now he is allowed to give out the details and his involvement,” such as the tight security during the secluded shoot in Hartland in Livingston County.
Extras are discouraged from conversing with actors unless the latter initiates the exchange. Jackman is Australian and Hodshire’s wife is from Singapore, so they chatted about that.
Jackman ”is a great guy, down to earth,” Hodshire said, although he never crossed paths with Evangeline Lilly.
Hodshire, who has been interested in acting since Edith Carey’s improv class at DUHS, said he answered a casting call in Detroit along with 2,000 others.
The tryout was conducted at a factory, where the line stretched all the way around it. The throng was pared to 300, then to 150.

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