It can take literally hours to light a scene. In order to light it properly one needs to have someone actually standing there to light. Rather than have the actors waiting around, getting exhausted and bored, they use stand-ins.
Stand-ins are not doubles, they don’t necessarily look like the actor they are standing in for, but they tend to be roughly the same height and are issued with a copy of the costume the character is wearing in that scene. All of the stand-ins have been members of the crew- Runners, an AD, even someone from Craft Services have been stand-ins. It honestly isn’t the most exciting job- standing there for hours and hours while Alwin Kuchler works his magic.
On any given day you can tell immediately who is a stand-in. The costumes are so recognisable that you don’t even need to see someone close up to know that they are ‘in costume’ and you can often tell instantly who they are standing in for by what they are wearing. The outfit Sue, the 3rd Assistant Director, is wearing in this photo tells me instantly she’s standing in for Michelle Yeoh.
Last week, I was walking along outside the main building when about 30 metres ahead of me I saw Dan, Cillian Murphy’s stand-in, walking towards me. Dan had to get extensions so that his hair resembles Cillian’s more. Dan isn’t particularly pleased with his hair and can usually be seen wearing a hat. As he was walking up to me, I realised that he didn’t have his hat on and wondered why that might be. Could he have lost his hat? Did he run off set so quickly he forgot it? Could someone have taken it? As he got closer to me I realised… it wasn’t Dan. It was Cillian.