WFE Extra Experience: Rousty Pat talks Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, @Hibbits, Rosie and MORE!

Team Roustabout! LOVE! I spy some familiar faces :)

Patrick Donahue, a core roustabout, had a wonderful experience on the set of Water For Elephants and he graciously shared it with us. Let’s have at it! :)

Rousty Pat poses in the PJs he wore in the roustabout train car

First, thanks so much for the chance to share the experience!  Very flattering; that meant a lot! :)

To say working on the movie was awesome would be a great understatement.  There was so much stuff to see and experience, this won’t do any justice to it, but I’ll talk briefly about some of the highlights!

I was cast as one of the core roustabouts, and was thrown into one of the most eclectic and wonderful groups I’ve ever met.  From day one of training in Piru, to the last day when we got to do some fun photoshoots, it was quite an adventure.

In addition to the on-set camaraderie we all developed, it was incredible getting to watch most of the shots; whenever I wasn’t being used, I often watched the monitors to see exactly what you’ll all be seeing on the big screen.  Between Director Francis Lawrence and Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto, the shots were nothing short of gorgeous every time.  My favorite is a bit of a montage of the rousties setting up the circus, with a lot of rubes watching in the fields as the roustabouts hammer tent stakes into the ground (an epic shot).  With the sunset (called ‘magic hour’, as there is so little time to film with -just- the right amount of natural light), and pollen blowing in the air; it’s just breathtaking.

As for the stars, it was awesome getting to see them work.

I was greatly impressed with Rob on two counts; one, he can switch accents between takes so fast!  He’d talk in his British dialect while not working, and go right back into his American, and you’d never know he was acting it.  He also was great with taking stunt falls.  I watched as he was thrown off a train platform in a fight scene a good dozen-plus times, some of which he landed square on his back.  But he took it and just rolled with it.  Great stuff.

I was most excited to get a chance to see Christoph strut his stuff, and hopefully absorb some of his Oscar winning aura.  He couldn’t be more humble either.  One day, my friend and I were getting food during a break, and we were near the front of a long line inside the crafty tent (crafty is the term used for where the food is).  Christoph came in and just got at the back of the line behind all of the extras.  As with most sets, it’s expected that extras let cast and crew go first in food lines as they have the least amount of free time to eat; my friend and I offered to exchange spots with him, and he just waved us off with a smile and said, “no, thank you, please, eat.” I love it when stars are nice, and I will always remember that when I’m the star, talking with an extra on the set of one of my movies someday.

A quick note about Queenie; the dog was so incredibly well trained and cute!  So fun to watch him and Mark (Kinko) work together.

One of the last days of shooting was some of the stampede scene, and I got to run next to a llama.  That was interesting. He just kept staring at me the whole way wondering what the hell he’d gotten into as dozens and dozens of people were screaming and running. :)

It was also fun running into some of the wardrobe crew from The Social Network!  I had worked on that for a few months helping out as second team, and landed my first line as well!  In that time, I got to know a lot of the people on set fairly well, and they couldn’t be nicer, so it was awesome seeing them again.  And wait ‘til you see what the wardrobe team put together for this movie; everyone looks fantastic!

The crew couldn’t be nicer either.  Some sets can have such a negative energy going around, and everyone is always stressed out and yelling.  But here, for the most part, everything was pretty easy going.  Everyone was on their A-game and wanted to make sure everything ran smoothly and safely.

And I can’t finish without mentioning the biggest star (literally and figuratively) of the movie – Tai the elephant, who plays Rosie. What an incredible animal.  So intelligent.  She knows so many commands and is so friendly.  She’d often lovingly tap Rob or Resse’s head with her trunk before they started working for the day.

What’s hilarious is knowing what went on during filming, and what you’ll see on the big screen.  For example, there is a scene where Christoph’s character beats Rosie mercilessly.  On screen, it’s going to look so very dramatic and painful.  Meanwhile, I’ll be picturing the trainer off screen saying “Tai move forward.  Tai move back.  Tai open your mouth” between Christoph’s lines.  She’s completely safe and happy, and on screen it will look vicious and horrible.  The magic of Hollywood.  Love it!

This brief message doesn’t do it justice at all, but it was an incredible experience!  Good friends, good times, an amazing cast and crew… I know all of you are going to be thrilled come next April!

Patrick Donahue

About Pat: We’ve followed Pat on twitter for some time and he’s been a strong advocate for Water For Elephants. Additionally, he’s quite funny. You might know him from his hilarious spoof, Live Free or Twihard. Check it out :)

You can follow Pat on twitter @actorpat or subscribe to Pat’s youtube channel. He might surprise us again with a funny WFE vlog ;)

About tinkrbe1l3

Fan and supporter of all things Robert Pattinson. Co-chauffeur on, co-blogger on, co-kinker on, as well as upcoming films:,,,, Co-blogger on
This entry was posted in Christoph Waltz, Cinematographer, Circus Animals, Costumes, Elephants, Francis Lawrence, Mark Povinelli, Production, Queenie, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Rosie, Tai, Water for Elephants and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to WFE Extra Experience: Rousty Pat talks Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, @Hibbits, Rosie and MORE!

  1. jekkie34 says:

    Patrick, thank you for the wonderful insight you are providing us fans. Cannot wait until this movie comes out.

    And of course, can never get enough of hearing how much of a gentleman my beloved Christoph is :)

  2. ransomfan says:

    That video was soooo funny. It was awesome, wow Patrick Donahue is so talented! And the part of his article about running with the llama gave me my first laugh of the day, and now the rest of my day is going to be so good. I will definitely be looking for Patrick while watching WFE come this April! And hey, I’m already thrilled, and it’s not even April yet. This movie might turn out to be my favorite movie of all time, it is the first time I’ve ever followed a movie being made all the way from the beginning. It’s been awesome.

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  4. Deborah Lazaroff Alpi says:

    Pat, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! It doesn’t surprise me a bit to hear that Christoph would wait in line. He couldn’t have been nicer and more humble to my son and I when we met him at the Piru location as the first representatives of The Christoph Contingent, his fan club. He very graciously gave us autographs and was so delighted to hear that he had so many fans all over the world who had seen many of his German films! We waited three long days before we finally saw him and it was an unforgettable experience. He was so kind and so warm and animated. He seems to be as fine a man as he is an actor, which is wonderful. :-)

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  9. Tillawanda says:

    Note to Patrick: Thanks for sharing your experiences on the set. I’ve now got a face for the name, and will be watching out for you in the film. Best wishes for a long and successful acting career – and keep writing, if the acting doesn’t pan out, you may have a successful career as a writer. Cheers!

  10. Alexandria says:

    Thank you Patrick for sharing these wonderful experince on the set. Best wishes for a successful acting career.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you Patrick for telling us about your experiences. I’ll be watching for you in the film.
    Tink the good stuff just keeps on coming. You’re awesome!

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  13. Melissa says:

    Thanks, Patrick! I’ve heard time and time again how great this cast was and how friendly they all were. I seriously cannot wait until April 15.

  14. Laura Graham says:

    Loved hearing Pat’s perspective on filming! Reading about what went on behind the scenes and learning a little bit more about the cast will make seeing the movie so much more rewarding. It got me thinking that we know all about the big three in the movie but little about the supporting actors (Camel, Kinko, Blackie, Earl, Wade, Barbara, etc). Would love to see profiles on them if possible.

  15. John Goodall says:

    Patrick, you refer “crafty tent (crafty is the term used for where the food is). This ios a new one to me. Your reference may be the term for where the actors ate on the set but on a circus lot the term would be cookhouse.
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

    • tinkrbe1l3 says:

      Pat was talking about craft services. A separate area (not a set) where they have the food for the cast and crew. In the movie, the term cookhouse is used for that set. Can’t wait to see those scenes…they were tense ;)

  16. Roblover says:

    This was an amazing interview. I can picture it all. Looking forward to this movie.

  17. jan says:

    Thanks, Patrick!

    That was nothing short of awesome…and your Twi-spoof wasn’t half bad either! :D

  18. Lydia says:

    Patrick, thanks so much sharing you’re experience! It’s great to get the perspective from an insider. This is going to be an awesome movie. BTW – I loved the video, I thought it was hilarious. Best wishes on continued success.

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  24. Denise says:

    Patrick….thanks for the inside scoop. I feel better knowing that Rosie was well taken care of….I’ll remember that when watching the film….one of my favorite books, expect it to be one of my favorite movies!

  25. Ashley says:

    LOL, the video was unusual, but kinda funny=P I like the part that says throw up ur hands cause its Twilight!!! WOOT WOOT! Of course im gonna watch any movie that has Robert Pattinson in it, cause im a huge fan=) Excited and cant wait to see it!!!!!!!!!!!

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