‘Tulsa King’ Background Actor Responds To Insults Allegedly Made On Set Of Sylvester Stallone Series: “I Do Feel Like I Was Singled Out”

EXCLUSIVE: It didn’t bother Thomas Mooneyham that he saw Sylvester Stallone glancing more than once at him, or how he was asked to leave a bar scene so he could be replaced with a younger cowboy and a “good-looking cowgirl.”

What upset the 53-year-old Tennessee man who drove four hours on April 4 to serve as an extra on the Paramount+ series Tulsa King was learning how one of the background actors was allegedly described by Stallone as a “tub of lard” and “fat guy with a cane.” He never heard Stallone or the director utter disparaging words about background actors that day, but he’s convinced some of those comments were directed at him personally after he read about them on a private Facebook page for BG actors.

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“I was seated at a table with another gentleman, like we were listening to the band,” recalls Mooneyham, who tells Deadline that he uses a cane because of “bone on bone” pain in his knee. “Stallone’s table with the other main characters was diagonal from ours, about 12 feet away. I did notice that he looked at me a time or two and he talked with, I guess, the director and laughed with him and all. But I didn’t put anything together.”

“Then we were moved from the scene and replaced with the younger cowboy and a good looking cowgirl,” continues Mooneyham. “Now does that bother me? Not in the least. What bothers me is that somebody overheard him and the director. It ain’t even the part that I am fat. I wasn’t the only big one that was there. But I do feel like I was singled out because they said ‘old tub of lard with the cane.’ I was the only one there with the cane.”

Mooneyham is speaking out about his 12-hour day on the Atlanta set of the series that led to the resignation of Rose Locke Casting, a local company hired to find background actors for Season 2 of the Stallone series. Deadline first broke the story on Monday; reps for the Paramount+ show and Stallone have yet to comment.

Locke told her clients that she left the series because of disparaging language allegedly used by Stallone to describe the extras — an accusation that director Craig Zisk denied to TMZ after Deadline broke the story. Zisk told the outlet that Locke failed to do her job by not recruiting extras in the 20s and 30s range for a scene involving a hip bar.

A source close to the show told Deadline Wednesday that producers were concerned about matching scenes from last season, which led to differences of opinion over casting. Producers apparently have talked to the cast and crew about the situation and emphasized their commitment to fostering an inclusive work environment.

Mooneyham says the set he was working on that day was the Bred-2-Buck, a fictitious Tulsa saloon that’s owned by Stallone’s character Dwight Manfredi in the series. “That’s not a young hipster bar that other people are trying to make it out to be,” he said. “That is just an old roughneck cowboy country bar. And the name the bar, here’s my point, is Bred-2-Buck. Tell me how many old bronco-riding cowboys who are old and who are not hobbled or crippled? How would a gentleman with a cane not fit into that? But the main thing is my cane was not even visible in the scene. I had it hidden behind my body.”

Before Mooneyham came to work that day, he considered it a dream gig because Tulsa King is a series that he and his son watch together. A tax specialist by day for H&R Block, Mooneyham has been working for two years as an extra and has already booked several films and TV shows, including a two-day gig on the upcoming film Civil War.

“When I worked on Civil War two years ago, I weighed 390 pounds. I could barely walk,” recalls Mooneyham, who appears briefly in the movie’s official trailer. “I had to use a mobility scooter but not a one of ’em on set said anything about it to me or made a fuss about it. The producers went out of the way to help me get my scooter loaded into the van.”

He says his experience on Tulsa King was a far cry from what his experienced on the motion picture. “I don’t understand. I know there was all this talk about older folks. Older, too old. How do they justify that we are too old when he’s 20-some years older than we are. I’m 53 years old. Stallone is 77. How the hell am I too old?”

“I’ve experienced nothing like this before,” says Mooneyham, who adds he doesn’t fault the casting director. He also has no plans to quit doing background work.

“Some people say I’m thin-skinned. People think that I’m making a fuss. I never made a fuss until Rose contacted me about it,” says Mooneyham. “My feelings got hurt a little. But you know what? I’m more pissed than hurt. And it’s just because of my disability.”

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