Hollywood came to downtown Bel Air Friday and hundreds wearing their finest outfits waited for their shot at a role, however small, in the hit Netflix drama "House of Cards."
The line of hopeful extras wrapped around the block on Pennsylvania Avenue and snaked through the parking lot across from Buontempo Brothers shortly before the doors opened at 3 p.m. The casting call, organized by Marinella Hume Casting, was set to run through 7 p.m. at the Bel Air Reckord Armory on North Main Street.
"It's 3 o'clock, and I believe there's already 1,000 people lined up for it, so it's just amazing," Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office, said while sporting a "House of Cards" hat.
Bill Marinella, a partner in the casting company, said many of the hopefuls may have a better chance than ever at getting onto the show in season 4.
"I can't give away too many secrets, but if you watched the show last year [Kevin Spacey's character] President Underwood is up for re-election, so there's a lot of traveling and a lot of different states he's going to, which is great for us because we can populate the scenes from people 18 to 80 - you know, politicians love babies," Marinella added with a smile.
"We're going to need people from Maine or people from Arizona or people from Texas, so all the people that are coming today have a better chance than perhaps in the other seasons simply because the looks are going to be different," he said.
"We want to get very diverse characters and we're shooting in what we would call different neighborhoods," he said. "We even need maybe some cars, so if you have a certain type of vehicle, we may rent a car from you."
Those in line hoped to make themselves stand out from the pack.
"I'm of mixed ethnicities; my dad's from Taiwan, my mom's from El Salvador, so I'm a mix and I have a lot of culture in me, so I think it'd be interesting," Kimberly Sun, of Fairfax, Va., said. She has also been a big fan of the show.
"I'm a little bit obsessed with 'House of Cards.' I kind of just heard of this casting call from one of my co workers and I've never done anything like this before, so I figured, why not try it," Sun, who was wearing a strappy black dress and gold earrings, said. "I think it'd be kind of cool to at least be in the background
Andrew Syropoulos, of Baltimore, was dressed in a kilt from his family's Scottish clan. He had a bachelor's in theatre.
"I'm a big fan of the show and we just saw the ad on Twitter, actually, and I saw the Facebook [ad] a day later and decided to put on the kilt and come out," he said with a smile. "I've done a bunch of episodes of 'The Wire,' and that was, you know, 15-some odd years ago but it's been mostly stage [acting] since then."
His experience on the Baltimore-based "The Wire" was mostly "a lot of 'hurry up and wait,'" Syropoulos said, although "I was a junkie a few times; that was a lot of fun."
He came up with Alea Wharekura, who moved to Baltimore two months ago after finishing high school in New Zealand.
"I want to get into the entertainment industry," she said. She was in a teal dress and wore a large gold necklace for the casting call.
"The New Zealand thing will bring a lot of uniqueness, like the different culture as well, just to get a fresh face," she said about why she should be picked for the show.
Sandy Schwartz and Will Klaschka, both of Bel Air, had a bit more experience with the show.
"We actually came to the open call last year here at the Armory, and it was just like, hey, let's try it out, it looks like fun, and we got on and it actually turned into a job for us," Schwartz, who has also worked on some small films and other shows, including "Veep," said. "I've been doing it all year, part time job; it's great."
Schwartz said she hopes to get on for Season 4 and would like to even get a regular spot as an office staffer to the president or the vice president.
She and Klaschka said working with Kevin Spacey, the show's star, has been a lot of fun – even though they did not get to talk with him in person.
"Kevin Spacey is a riot. Every time there's a lull in the action, he does something to get everybody laughing and we all have to try to be quiet," Klaschka said. "He's a practical joker."
Schwartz added: "Even though it's a serious topic, the show, he's just so funny."
"We spent about eight hours in the same room, but we didn't actually speak because there were about 300 of us there," she said.
Gerbes, of the Maryland Film Office, pointed out the show, which has done much of its filming in Harford County, from its Edgewood-based studio, continues to be a boon to the area.
"Not only is 'House of Cards' going to be benefited by all these talented local actors and want-to-be actors, but also Bel Air businesses are going to [see] a great impact," he said. "I'm sure all the bars, restaurants and shops down Main Street in Bel Air are going to be very, very active today with all these people, some of who may not know of Bel Air."
Mario Buontempo, who was working at Main Street Tower early Friday afternoon, said the previous casting call definitely helped his business.
"They took the whole dining room; I wish they could do that again," he said. "They did a fantastic job. It was really good for my employees, good for the business in the area."
Gerbes said Harford's star has continued to grow after "House of Cards" built its foundation here.
"It certainly exposes the county to literally an international audience. Harford County has been mentioned in papers in the U.K.; recently there was an article in Quebec about Harford County becoming Gaffney, S.C. [for the show], so it has a tremendous impact directly and also ancillary impact on the county and on the state."