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Hundreds turn out for casting call as extras in 'Wolfboy' movie

Some were former theater students.

Others were movie buffs.

And then there a few looking for something different to do Saturday.

Why not audition for a part in the latest movie to be made in Buffalo?

The movie's title  is "The True Adventures of Wolfboy." It features Emmy-award winning actor John Turturro and 14-year-old Jaeden Lieberher, and it will be filmed entirely in the Buffalo Niagara region from Sept. 11 to Oct. 20.

Despite its title, the Wolfboy movie has nothing to do with werewolves, or even ordinary wolves. It has to do with a boy hero who lives with his father but runs away in search of his estranged mother and encounters all sorts of people along the way.

The boy suffers from hypertrichosis – aka werewolf syndrome – that results in an abnormal amount of hair covering a person's body, said Declan Baldwin, a producer for the movie who was on hand for Saturday's casting call.

"It's a hero's journey of a teenage boy who runs away the evening of the carnival and goes out in the world," he said. "It's a beautiful story."

The film crew is looking for some extras for four days of shooting Sept. 18-21. Most extras are needed for a carnival scene that will be shot on the old Summit Park Mall in Wheatfield.

A few hundred people showed up at the Albright Knox Art Gallery for Saturday's open casting call. Lines of people began snaking outside the Albright Knox before 11 a.m. "We've had an amazing turnout so far," said Kyle Mecca, the local casting director.

He  estimated that several hundred people had come through to sign casting call information sheets and get their pictures taken.

Local residents seemed thrilled to sign up as extras. Though the extras are volunteers, all participants receive free food, parking and raffle tickets for the chance to win prizes throughout the day.

When 16-year-old Marissa Nunzio heard about the casting call, she came from Amherst with her friend and Williamsville North High School classmate Hailey Cullen. Cullen brought her sister, Claire.

From left, Claire Cullen, 11; Marissa Nunzio, 16; and Hailey Cullen are among the hundreds who showed up at the casting call for the movie "The True Adventures of Wolfboy." (Sandra Tan/Buffalo News)

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Nunzio said.

"We're big movie buffs," added Cullen.

Claire, 11, said she was excited but a little surprised that signing up was so easy.

"I thought it would be more of an audition," she said.

David Monk, 47, said he and his daughter came from Depew after finding out about the casting call through the Buffalo Film Extras Facebook group. He was impressed with how quickly the casting crew processed people Saturday and guessed that more people turned out for the Wolfboy casting call than for the movie "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2," filmed in Buffalo in 2015.

For some, the decision to participate in the casting call was a last-minute one.

Jordan Brown, 27, said he hadn't done theater since he was a child but heard about the casting call from a friend who works at the Albright Knox. If he gets called, the Buffalo man said, he'd rearrange his work schedule or take some vacation time from his job in tech support.

Marguerite Astyk, 71, said her niece and a friend wanted to sign up as extras so she and her sister drove them to the Albright Knox.

"We were so excited," said Astyk, a resident of Hamburg. "We talked about it in the car. I talked to my sister Kathy and said we should do it too. Why not?"

For those who missed Saturday's casting call, another is being planned in Niagara Falls for Sept. 16, Baldwin said. Others are encouraged to email wolfboybackgroundcasting@gmail.com with questions or to submit their photo and contact information for consideration as an extra. Resumes may also be submitted but are not necessary, Mecca said.

"The True Adventures of Wolfboy" is directed by Martin Krejci. The screenplay is by Olivia Dufault, who wrote the play "Year of the Rooster" and also worked on the AMC series "Preacher."

The film is from Kimberly Steward's K Period Media, the production company behind the Oscar-winning drama “Manchester by the Sea,” and is produced by Steward, Baldwin, Josh Godfrey, Lauren Beck and Benjamin Blake.

The main character will be played by Jaeden Lieberher, 14, who stars in the new adaptation of Stephen King's "It" and the crime drama "The Book of Henry."

Turturro, an actor, director and writer, has been in more than 60 films, including multiple movies for Spike Lee and the Coen brothers. His extensive acting resume includes "Do the Right Thing," "Jungle Fever," "The Big Lebowski," "Barton Fink" and four of the "Transformers" movies. He is nominated for an Emmy for his work in the HBO limited series "The Night Of."

The cast also features Chloe Sevigny, whose credits include "The Brown Bunny" and the HBO series "Big Love."

Though producers had originally looked at Newark and Trenton in New Jersey as possible filming locations, as well as Philadelphia, Baldwin said the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission made a very persuasive case to have the film located in Western New York.

"We had no idea what Buffalo had to offer," Baldwin said. "It's a jewel."

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