I finally got to see The Informant last weekend, after more than two years of waiting.
Why had I been waiting two years, you ask?
(Well, wouldn’t your interest have been piqued if your friend’s dad had plied his way onto the movie set with a box of donuts?
I think so.)
I worried that my viewing experience might suffer from all the hype, and from knowing too many details about the real-life story.
After all, I had been following the movie’s development for so long. I brought you news of Matt Damon hobnobbing with the local yokels on set in Decatur, IL. I wondered about local connections to the story via the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) plant in nearby Bushnell, IL.) I listened, rapt, to the episode of This American Life that detailed the true story of Damon’s character, Mark Whitaker (the whistle-blower-on-corruption-who-oh-by-the-way-was-also-corrupt). I got regular updates from my friend about her dad’s attempts to somehow work his way into the movie.
So by the time I finally got to sit down and watch it on DVD, I was worried it might not live up to my expectations.
But it turned out I had no reason to worry. Not because of its portrayal of central Illinois life, or anything else I might have expected, but because Matt Damon was so great, and so believable, as the shifty yet somehow sympathetic guy. I even lost sight of the fact that it was Matt Damon after awhile, (which is really saying something for an indie-movie snob). The film also does a great job of giving you the bigger picture of the flabbergasting ease with which the ADM businessmen price-fixed on an international scale.
But the truly critical question about the movie, of course, is how did my friend’s dad fare?
Let me refresh you about why he plied his way onto the movie set with a box of donuts when he first heard that the film would be shooting on location in central Illinois.
Here’s a snippet from his interview with the Rushville (IL) Times:
“Farrar and his Camaro recently responded to calls for extras and travelled to Decatur where he was hired to appear as an extra in a scene. Farrar said he and one other man are in the background of the scene shot at a Decatur motel swimming pool with Damon and co-star Scott Bakula. Farrar’s Camaro also may make an appearance since the producers also needed vehicles from the early 1990s for the movie. “I really like doing this and getting into these movies,” said Farrar, who is retired from the City of Rushville. “It’s the best work I’ve ever done – a lot better than mowing yards.”
When first visiting with the casting agency for the job, Farrar said he took a box of doughnuts from Rogers Bakery in Rushville as a gift.
“They loved them,” he said. “They called me the doughnut guy.”
Sadly, it turns out my friend’s dad didn’t get his time in the spotlight. (Er, background.) His scene at that Decatur motel (described in the snippet above) was unfortunately cut from the film.
But his purple 1995 Camaro, which looks like this if you’re interested, fared much better.
It appears in the latter half of the film, just before the scene in which Damon’s character (starting to really crack) meets with a new lawyer or a reporter at a hotel (divulging a bunch more stuff he’s not supposed to). The camera shows the parking lot of the motel, and not only is the car clearly visible, but the camera hangs there for a good couple of seconds.
It was really quite a star turn. I got so excited I made C-Nor pause the DVD so we could go back and look at it again.
As far as Mr. Farrar goes, I’m sure he’s faring well. Here’s his final quote from the Rushville Times:
“I think that since there are just the two extras in the scene I could get mentioned in the credits, but it could end up on the cutting room floor with the other broken dreams.”
Have you seen the movie? What did you think? Do you know anything about local ties to the story via the Bushnell plant? Leave me a comment below.