Youngwood Borough council president bitten by acting bug
Youngwood residents know Lloyd Crago as their borough council president and volunteer fire department chief.
They might be surprised to learn he has been a surgeon, a photographer — that is, he's held those jobs in roles he has played while working part time as a regional actor.
“I do it for fun,” Crago, 52, said of his acting career.
A few years ago, an acquaintance told him that his look — what he calls “middle-aged guy” — was in demand.
The friend was right.
On the Internet Movie Database, Crago's extensive resumé lists appearances as a corrections officer and paramedic in the popular Cinemax action show, “Banshee,” filmed in Vandergrift; in commercials for Giant Eagle, AT&T and UPMC; and in major films.
He played a retired NFL player in “Concussion,” starring Will Smith; an airport employee in the holiday film “Love the Coopers,” starring Diane Keaton and John Goodman; and a security guard and high roller in the Jake Gyllenhaal boxing movie, “Southpaw,” all shot in and around Pittsburgh.
Crago, whose day job is as operations manager with Comcast, enjoys the behind-the-scenes efforts as much as the acting.
“I think it's fascinating, the camera angles, the lighting,” Crago said.
He's curious about how a location is chosen for a film. He's amazed at the number of people involved in a shoot: from vehicle wranglers to medical consultants.
Crago plays nonunion, non-speaking, primarily background roles, earning an hourly rate that changes from job to job. He said jobs as extras in a movie can pay from minimum wage to $15 or more per hour if you are featured in a scene. Actors in commercials can get as little as $100 or as much as $1,500 on a job.
“Pay is all over the boards,” he said.
“The first few I did, I thought I was getting typecast. I wore a suit and tie. I was a lawyer, businessman. ... I've never been a bad guy,” he noted.
Recently, he played a makeup artist in the film “The Last Witch Hunter,” starring Vin Diesel.
One actor he worked with who surprised him was the rapper 50 Cent, who appeared in “Southpaw.”
“He was super nice and really quiet,” he said.
Katie Shenot, a casting director with Nancy Mosser Casting in Pittsburgh, called her client “a consummate professional.”
“We usually bring Lloyd in for law enforcement or white-collar businessman-type roles. He's got a great look for both,” she said.
Being on camera has helped Crago be less self-conscious during council meetings and work presentations.
He's also learned to check his ego at the door when taking a role. He once filmed a scene for a television show for 14 hours in the old Brownsville Hospital — and he didn't make it on the screen after final editing.
“The whole scene got cut,” he said with a chuckle.
Other times, he's been pleasantly surprised: “Southpaw” concludes with the camera fading away on Crago.
“I went to the movie with my wife and kids. My daughter was losing it. Everyone in the theater was looking at us,” he said.
And he takes in stride the occasional jokes by his friends.
“My assistant chief saw me in something and said, ‘Hey, you nodded your head really well in that scene,' ” he said.
He might have been a little too believable in a recent Giant Eagle commercial, where he “worked” in the meat department.
The store was open during filming, and a customer approached Crago to give him an order.
“I said, ‘Sir, I'm not a meat cutter. I just play one on TV,' ” he said.
Crago will soon play a new role, one in which he might not mind being typecast.
In September, Crago's son Ryan and his wife, Christy, will make him a grandfather.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer.