Alexander Rhodes is the most popular actor you’ve never heard of—at least according to IMDB.
The 23-year-old movie extra submitted a link to his IMDB page to social news site Reddit, whose roughly 30-million monthly users helped power his profile and billing in the cast of the forthcoming thriller, Jack Reacher.
Before long, he was the movie’s top-billed actor, ahead of Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike, and even Tom Cruise. That’s pretty impressive consider his character was billed only as “Suspicious Onlooker.”
“I never intended for this to happen, and it was a hilarious surprise,” said Rhodes, a vegetarian and “cat named Huckle and a dog named Poopski,” according to his awesomely detailed IMDB page. “At first I internally panicked just a little bit. After about 30 seconds I couldn’t stop laughing. Never underestimate the power of Reddit.”
The explosion in popularity is quite impressive given the amount of time Rhodes actually spent on the set of the production. A few days’ work and a lot of lost sleep were all that Jack Reacher producers needed out of him.
As his Internet fame climbed, so did the number of opportunities for Rhodes.
“I received offers for agent representation, a fair amount of commercials, a couple small supporting roles in movies, and a ton of Internet-based stuff,” he revealed. “I recently worked with cracked.com to film a HILARIOUS video inspired by this entire situation.”
The Rise and Fall of The Most Famous Background Actor Ever — powered by Cracked.com
Jack Reacher wasn’t Rhodes’ first foray into Hollywood. His family has roots in the industry and he has involved himself with acting and video production since childhood. The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Promised Land also featured him as an extra and he was hired as a production assistant on the set of The Dark Knight Rises.
The chance to build his name wasn’t the only result of his notoriety. Some fans of his story sent him personalized gifts.
“Username “i_lase_you” from Reddit created a laser engraving of my face, posted a video, and mailed the creation to me,” Rhodes said. “It is currently propped up on my computer desk awaiting a frame so that I can hang it on the wall.”
Another fan created a line of “Suspicious Onlooker” T-shirts, making sure to send Rhodes a free sample and license under “Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.”
Rhodes is humbled by all of the support he has received, and not just because he’s since slipped back to second billing on the site behind Cruise. He plans to show his appreciation partly by bringing a video camera with him to Los Angeles for the premiere to “include the Internet in this adventure.” If interest is sparked, he will try his hand at a YouTube series.
“The main thing I’ve been doing is trying to remain accessible to everybody,” he said. “If somebody sends me an email or posts on my Facebook page, I personally respond to almost everything. If somebody asks for advice, I do my best to help them out as much as possible. Although this really isn’t a big deal at this point, if my career got bigger I’d still make it a primary goal to remain as accessible as possible to people and especially to the redditors who were there from the beginning.
“I would just like to take this opportunity to thank the Reddit community, Imgurians, and the rest of the Internet for this amazing opportunity.”
Take a bow, Rhodes. You’ve earned it.
Photo via IMDB