The is over and Monroe is no longer East Great Falls. People now have to wait for the release of the fourth in the American Pie movie series for a glimpse of their hometown on the big screen. But being part of the movie culture isn't new to the area, as one Loganville businessman can attest to.
Someone with experience as both an extra and actor is broker/owner Mark Myers of . He has been kicked in the seat of his pants by Jackie Gleason in “Smokey and the Bandit” and knocked over by Nick Nolte in “Return to Macon County.”
These are two of many encounters the engaging real estate broker has had with famous actors, starting years ago with "Smokey and the Bandit" when he was 19. At one time Myers had even decided working in the movies would be a great career.
"It was fun. At that time there just wasn't enough work to keep me working full time," he said. “In the beginning I would call the Georgia Department of Tourism office and ask where the movies were shooting then go check it out.”
Handsome and charming, Myers eventually listed with Atlanta agents, which led him to auditioning and winning several roles. His young good looks and engaging personality won him a speaking part in “Smokey and the Bandit” and a made-for-TV movie “A Few Good Men.”
“I was the guy who killed that scrawny guy,” Myers said, adding he was also chosen for an Atlanta ad campaign. “I was on billboards for CNS bank all over Metro Atlanta at one point.”
Myers also was an extra in “Smokey and the Bandit II” and “Cannonball Run.” He said he spent an entire day working with Burt Reynolds and Farah Fawcett in “Cannonball Run” but he didn’t think any of it made it into the final cut of the movie.
Among the most memorable auditions was for the role of “Cooter” in the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV series.
Myers laughed as he remembered it. “I was told I wasn’t sleazy enough for Cooter,” he said.
He tried for a role as one of the “Gatlin Brothers” for the screen adaptation of Kenny Rogers' famous song “Coward of the County.”
“After I read I was told they really wanted me, but they already had someone else under contract so I didn’t get that part,” Myers remembers wistfully.
A serious contender for the role opposite of Erik Estrada in the late 1970/1980’s TV series CHiPs, Myers said, “They wanted someone no taller than 5'8" in order to make Erik Estrada look tall.“
This looked like a great opportunity for him, but then the disappointing news came.
“They told me I had too much of a Southern accent, so I didn't get that part,” he said.
Still fresh in his mind, Myers remembers working with Jackie Gleason.
“He was just like he was on TV. Whenever there was downtime he would tell jokes. Always wanting to make people laugh. It was an exciting time,“ he said. “I received a special invitation to sing the National Anthem at a Braves game the same night Burt Reynolds was invited to throw out the first pitch at that game.”
That led him to singing the National Anthem at an Atlanta Hawks game.
To this day, in addition to fond memories, Myers receives royalty checks whenever “Smokey and the Bandit” gets airtime.