Five Minutes With: Movie extra Phil Ungvarsky

April 15, 2011 

Phil Ungvarsky might be hard to pick out in the new Robert Redford-directed movie, "The Conspirator." But if you keep your eyes peeled, you might be able to find the normally clean-cut Bluffton resident looking pretty scruffy.

Ungvarsky, a local tennis pro and FedEx driver, is an extra in the Civil War-era film, playing a bearded, weathered, enlisted soldier.

"The Conspirator," which opens today, tells the true story about the trial of Mary Surratt (Robin Wright Penn), a boarding house owner charged in the conspiracy to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. The majority of the movie's filming took place in Savannah.

Ungvarsky explains how he landed his role in "The Conspirator."

Question. Was this your first movie?

Answer. "The Conspirator" was the first. A co-worker at FedEx told me about it. I sent a picture in and they liked it and called me back.

I thought it could be fun. Robert Redford is the director, so I thought it could be interesting to work for him.

Q. How long did you work on the movie?

A. Three weeks. We went to Fort Pulaski. They built a gallows, made it look like it did back then. Most of the scenes were filmed in an empty warehouse. We spent a lot of time there.

Q. What was the schedule like?

A. You work 15 hours one day and come back the next day. Long days, especially in that wool uniform with that beard. You start to itch all over.

You'd stand there forever. Sometimes it would take four or five hours to film one scene. Something like a helicopter would fly by and they'd say, "Cut! Cut!"

Q. Did your beard look good?

A. Oh, yeah (laughs). I felt proud. I grew all of mine. Other guys had to get parts pasted on.

Q. Did you get to meet anyone famous?

A. I got to meet Robert Redford. He said (the movie) was a story that needed to be told. Got to meet the writer, too -- Jim Solomon. He said it took him about 10 years to write it. The actors were very cool, very down to earth.

Q. Are you working on any other projects?

A. I just started on a movie called "Savannah" (about the relationship between a freed slave and a white aristocrat). The other guys in the movie, they let you know what's coming up. It's just something fun to do. It's kind of like a hobby.

Q. Are you ready for Hollywood?

A. Not yet (laughs). Have to pay my dues first.

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