Willie B. Williams, Jr., of Troy, got camera time in the movie “42,” which is the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play American Major League Baseball. Williams is pictured with Chadwick Boseman who played Robinson in the movie.
Willie B. Williams, Jr., of Troy, got camera time in the movie “42,” which is the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play American Major League Baseball. Williams is pictured with Chadwick Boseman who played Robinson in the movie.

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Troy native gets camera time in ‘42’ movie

Published 11:00pm Thursday, May 9, 2013

Willie B. Williams Jr. said he was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs as he sat in the movie theater on April 12.

Williams was there for the first showing of “42,” the story of Jackie Robinson, who was the first African American to play American Major League Baseball.

Of course, Williams was eager to see the movie, but he was perhaps more anxious to see who was “in” the movie. Not so much Chadwick Boseman, who played Robinson, but the players on the Kansas City Monarchs Negro League team for which Robinson played.

Williams was an extra in the movie. He knew that had made the cut, but he wasn’t sure that he would actually get much camera time.

“As an extra, I was a member of the Monarchs baseball team,” he said. “I was one of the players that got off the bus in the scene when the team stopped for gas at an old country store.”

On April 12, Williams was at the theater with his family and he said that he grew even more anxious when “his” scene opened.

“I was the second player off the bus,” he said, with a smile. “I said to my mom, ‘That’s me!’ I got about five seconds of camera time. I couldn’t believe it.”

Williams played his role as he had been directed.

“The director told us, the Monarchs players, that we had been riding in the bus a long time. He said that it was hot in the bus so we were hot and tired and to act that way,” Williams said. “So, when I got off the bus, I was wiping sweat from my forehead and shaking my shirt loose trying to get cooled off. I walked real slow like I was tired and worn out.”

Williams said he was excited about his five seconds of fame and he was honored to have been a small part of the making of such an important film.

“I got to meet Chadwick Boseman and he was very cordial and nice,” Williams said. “And, I got to see how movies are made. The scene that I was in took all day. We would come off the bus and the director would have us go back in and come off again and again. But they had a food ‘craft’ there for us and we all had a good time but it was tiring.”

Williams said the bus scene was filmed at an abandoned gas station in Macon, Ga.

“The old gas station was on a paved highway but they had brought in tons of dirt to cover the pavement so that it looked like the station was on a dirt road way out in the country,” he said. “It was so interesting to see some of what goes into making a movie.”

The movie “42” was not Williams’ first venture into show biz. He has been an extra on several television shows, including “The Game,” “Necessary Roughness” and “Single Ladies.” He has also appeared in an Adidas shoe commercial.

His name is on the register of a casting company in Atlanta and he said that he hopes to be able to take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to him.

“I thought I had missed the chance to be in ‘42.’ The call about being an extra came when I was playing music at a church service,” he said. “I called back twice and didn’t get anybody. I thought I had missed my big chance. I was so disappointed. But the casting company called me back and I went the next day to get fitted with my wardrobe – a yellow shirt and a bowtie.”

Williams said it would have been great to wear a Monarchs baseball uniform and be a part of the game but he was happy with the role he played.

And, if some day, Williams has the opportunity to be something more than “extra,” he said he will be “off and running.”

 

  • Bill_OReally

    Very cool. It might not have been a major role, but think how great it will be when your kids are teenagers watching this movie with their friends, “That’s my dad!”

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