By Andrea Cline/Times Sentinel managing editor
— Zionsville native Greg Haines may play small acting roles but he has made a big impact on the Hollywood scene.
Haines, a 1967 Zionsville High School graduate, is a background actor for the stars.
He does approximately 80 to 100 different shows per year as well as stand ins, photo doubles and print model work. He has also worked on TV, film, commercials and magazines.
Haines has worked with many popular actors over the past six years, including Richard Gere, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorcesi, Tom Hanks, Charlie Sheen and Steven Spielberg. He has also had an opportunity to play many different roles such as a news anchor, lawyer, doctor, priest, sheriff, butler, drug lord and even an alien.
Just in January, Haines played small roles on popular television shows such as The Finder, Two Broke Girls, Spiderman, The Middle and Up All Night.
“I enjoy every day of work and never get bored since it’s always something new and different,” he said. “There is a crazy list of things you get to do, which makes the job so much fun.”
Although acting is what consumes most of Haines’ time these days, doing it for a living was something he never considered until six years ago.
“I did plays in the house for the neighborhood kids and just had fun with it,” he said.
After high school graduation, Haines went to the General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich.,, now named Kettering University, where she studied engineering because he was fascinated with science and gadgets. He earned a degree in electrical engineering and a masters degree at Stanford University in computer engineering - hardware and software design.
After college, Haines decided to stay in California and landed a job for Computer Election Systems. After eight years after Haines started working at the company, the business went under and Haines was laid off. He then took another job with Friden Alcatel, which made office equipment. He was with the company for more than 12 years.
The company moved in a different direction and started farming everything out of the country for production. Haines either had the choice to move to the company’s headquarters in Paris, France, or he could take an early retirement severance.
While considering his options, Haines’ house was destroyed in the Oakland, Calif. Fire Storm in 1991, the largest natural disaster in the state.
“I lost my home and lost everything.” he said.
Haines reevaluated his life and decided to take the early retirement and start a new life in southern California. He bought a home in Altadena, Calif. near Pasadena, Calif. and began the process of rebuilding his life.
“It was a full time job for three or four years, especially dealing with the insurance company,” he said.
After a few years, Haines decided it was time to get back in the engineering field. He had more than 20 years of experience and five patents but after a year of sending resumes and making contacts within the field, he couldn’t get an interview for a position.
Haines found an article in a local newspaper looking for people to be in the background of movies and television shows. He decided to sign up with a casting agency and they called him the following day to start working.
“It felt so good that at least someone was interested in hiring me,” he said. “I got off to a good start. I told myself that I am going to give myself one year and see if I like the field.”
Haines’ goal to get into the Screen Actors Guild, a union that represents professional actors in Hollywood and television.
“It’s not an easy thing to join,” he said. “But I ended up making it in the union after 11 months.”
Once Haines made the commitment to stick with his new career path, he said he decided to take classes and did as much studying and training as he could get to help find the right job.
“The competition is pretty fierce but I have managed to stay busy and enjoy my work,” he said.
Unlike previous jobs Haines has had, he said he wakes up and is excited to get to work.
“I get to go to different locations and do different jobs,” he said. “It’s just invigorating.”
Haines continues to look for the next job in Hollywood and says he auditions all the time. Although he likes doing small background work, he would like to land a bigger part or more significant role in movies and/or films.