Shout-Out to the Extra is a sporadic series in which Cinema Romantico shouts out the extras, the background actors, the bit part players, the almost out of your sight line performers who expertly round out our movies with epic blink & you’ll miss it care.
The first time we really get a good look at the demon dogs in “Ghostbusters” is when our overly-friendly tax accountant Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) opens his closet and obliviously tosses a couple coats right onto the lightly growling head of the beast. You know what comes next, of course, with the demon dog going nuts and taking possession of poor Louis. But what about the coats? Who knows, but I assume Ted and Annette Fleming tracked them down eventually. They were, after all, the coats’ owners, introduced just prior to the demon dog’s terror when they ring the doorbell and Louis answers and launches into his dryly hilarious monologue about Ted and Annette’s respective careers. (He has a carpet cleaning business in receivership; she’s drawing a salary from a deferred bonus two years ago.) He does this because his party consists of “clients instead of friends.” Yet you can tell they are clients and not friends simply by the way they enter.
I wasn’t there, obviously, so I don’t know what instructions director Ivan Reitman issued to Paul Trafas, the actor, who portrayed Ted Fleming. Reitman probably said just to smile, as you might as your party host greeted you at the door, and then hand Rick Moranis your coat since Moranis was made to say the line “Here, give me your coats.” And I don’t know if Mr. Trafas was simply excitable, or if he was told to do it, or if he decided to do it himself, or if it was some unconscious instinct, but here’s the genius……the instant Moranis opens the door, Trafas is already taking off his coat and plopping into Moranis’s arms. He doesn’t even wait for Moranis to say “Here, give me your coats.” He doesn’t even wait to get inside the apartment. It’s: Door Opens. Coat Comes Off. Hands Coat To Moranis. Then Moranis says: “Here, give me your coats.” And it’s revealing hilarious. It’s exactly what a client, not a friend, would do. (Watch the scene here.)
Curious to see if Paul Trafas had any acting background, I Googled his name. The first two results were IMDb, which listed “Ghostbusters” first and foremost, and along with only one other credit (for a TV show called “The Renegades”) and, sadly, Paul Trafas’s obituary. He passed away four years ago, December 2 2012 at the age of 63. His obit reads like the dude had a good, full, if too short life. He packed in a lot, including one acting decision that will, from here to eternity, make at least one person laugh all the way out loud.
Pour one out for the extra.