What Do Background Actors Do?

Working on set is part of a Background Actor’s job description
Mariska Hargitay behind the scenes of Law & Order: SVU (NBC)

Do you ever wonder who gets to be saved by the Avengers? Or who the lucky people are partying with The Rock on Ballers? These people are Background Actors hired by Central Casting. Chances are you don’t pay much attention to the people Iron Man saves - and that’s because it’s part of a Background Actor’s job description to blend in.

What is a Background Actor?

A Background Actor is someone who performs in a nonspeaking role, usually in the background. Background Actors help make movies, TV shows, and other productions look and feel more authentic. After all, hospitals, concerts, and city streets would just look like movie sets without Background Actors to give them life.

What do Background Actors do?

There’s no universal Background Actors job description because your role can change from booking to booking. One day you may be portraying a 1980s high school teacher and the next a DJ working with your own equipment. As a Background Actor, you’ll spend most of your time in Holding or on set. While filming, you’ll mainly interact with the Assistant Director, who will direct you where and when to move in a scene.

Whether you’re interested in advancing your career in the entertainment industry or just want an opportunity to see how your favorite movies and TV shows are made, working as background gives you a unique opportunity to be behind the scenes on a variety of productions.

How to become a Background Actor

Central Casting casts hundreds of Background Actors every day in some of Hollywood’s biggest movies and TV shows, but we also cast many other roles, including Stand-Ins and doubles. If you want to get booked on one of our projects, the first thing you need to do is register at one of our offices in Los Angeles, New York, Georgia, or Louisiana.

For more information on Talent Onboarding and to make a reservation, visit your location’s Sign Up page.


Everyone who registers with Central Casting must present the required documentation to fill out the I-9 form. We cannot register you without these original unexpired documents, so please review the Lists of Acceptable Documents before coming in to register.


Central Casting also casts minors from 15 days old to 17 years old as Background Actors and doubles in movies and TV shows. To register your minor, a parent or legal guardian can make a reservation to bring them to one of our offices to fill out paperwork and have their photo taken for our casting platform. Check out our Kids Sign Up page to find out when Minor’s Talent Onboarding is in your location.

In order to register, minors must meet the same I-9 requirements as adults. Our article How to Get Your Child on TV and Movies has all the detailed information you need to register and help your child get cast by Central Casting.

How to get cast

Want to see all the latest roles we’re casting? Casting Directors post all their current jobs on the Jobs page of our website. They continually post new jobs throughout the day, so keep checking back if you don’t see anything you fit. Once you’re registered, you may also receive a phone call or a text message from a Casting Director checking your availability for an upcoming work date.

Now that you know a Background Actor’s job description and are ready to get to set, learn how to prepare for your first day and how to stand out to Casting Directors.

How much did you know about Background Actors before you decided to become one?

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By Meghan Dubitsky

Article Category:

Industry Essentials