Upper St. Clair Man Describes Being a Batman Extra

Thousands of extras played fans during a scene filmed at Heinz Field.

On Saturday, thousands of fans poured into Heinz Field to cheer on a fictional football team for a scene in The Dark Knight Rises.

Joe Heckel, of Upper St. Clair, said he has been a Batman fan since he was a kid and jumped on the chance to be an extra.

"It was a long day, but it was pretty cool," Heckel said.

The day started at 7 a.m. in the Civic Arena parking lot. Buses drove thousands of extras wearing their black and gold to Heinz Field to cheer on the "Gotham Rogues." They braved some rain, and a lot of heat, until 6:30 p.m.

"The worst part is you couldn't wear shorts because we were filming a fall or winter scene," Heckel said. "I wore jeans and a black shirt with a coat.

"But they treated us well. There was a cooling tent and free food."

Organizers also raffled off a new car, a trip to the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises and yellow "Gotham Rogues" UnderArmour shirts.

"People were getting violent over the t-shirts!" Heckel said.

During filming, fans cheered like they would at a Pittsburgh Steelers game, chanting "Let's go Rogues, let's go Rogues!"

"It was almost like you were at a normal football game...like the end of a Steelers game," Heckel said.

Some of the players on team "Rogues" were actual Pittsburgh Steelers playing as extras, including Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward.

"But the biggest ovation went to Bill Cowher," Heckel said. 

The former Steelers head coach paced up and down the sideline again for the movie.

The day's other big cheer came when three camouflage tumblers drove around the field.

"That got a really big ovation," Heckel said.

The crowd didn't show their love the entire day. At one point the crowd booed as Mayor Luke Ravenstahl—playing kicker for opposing team "Rapid City Monuments"—missed a field goal. 

A little bit later, Heckel said the crowd had to act scared. He signed a release form, so he wasn't allowed to reveal any movie secrets.

"Let's just say it's not the typical Heinz Field you're used to see on Sunday afternoon when the Steelers play," Heckel said.

Heckel understands he was one of thousands of extras and there is a slim chance he'll appear on the big screen when the movie is released next year.

"Just to say you were there and a part of it is pretty cool," Heckel said.


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