Hobbsan an extra in 12 Strong movie
Kudos for Marcus Sparenberg of Hobbs who hit social media this month for two good reasons.
Not only did he show up in the hit movie “12 Strong” which opened on Jan. 19 to the second-highest box office of its opening weekend, but he accepted appointment to the board of directors of the New Mexico Head Start Association.
The movie — also known as “12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers” — is a war drama film based on Doug Stanton’s non-fiction book “Horse Soldiers,” which tells the story of CIA paramilitary officers and U.S. Special Forces, in addition to USAF Combat Controllers, sent to Afghanistan immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
An employee of the Allen Eagle 9 Theatre since 2007, Sparenberg actually played two roles in the movie and wondered whether he would make the final cut since he could have been edited out.
“I really didn’t think I was going to make it, but actually seeing myself on the big screen, I definitely want to do more,” he said.
Marcus said he auditioned in El Paso while on a trip to visit in-laws in Las Cruces.
“They called me back and they wanted me to play a terrorist. I was going to be in the Taliban. I was super excited. I said, ‘I’m going to be a terrorist,’” he said. “They said, ‘Grow out your beard. You’re character dies, but you’ll be in the movie.’”
That was just the beginning, though, because the movie producers took another look at some photographs he sent to them, and called him back a few weeks later.
“They asked me to play a different roll, Sgt. McDonald, and I was so happy, excited and shaking,” Marcus told the News-Sun. “They said I was going to be doing a scene with Chris Hemsworth, Rob Riggle and Michael Shannon, all these actors. I was just ecstatic. I did have one line, but it got cut.”
In the end, he performed both parts during the filming from late 2016 through January 2017. The movie was made from Alamogordo and the White Sands Missile Range area, through the mountainous area around Socorro to Albuquerque.
Not entirely new to performing before audiences, Marcus said this was his first movie, finishing a shift at Eagle 9, driving to Albuquerque or Alamogordo late into the night and being on the set by early morning to work all day again — sometimes, filming the same scene repeatedly all day — for months on end.
“I’ve done some Community Playhouse plays and I’ve done some Expressions Dance Academy, but this would be my first film,” he said. “I really like the experience. I just had an awesome experience.”
Meanwhile, as “12 Strong” was set to open at theaters across the nation, including Eagle 9 in Hobbs, and the New Mexico Legislature opened its 2018 session, Marcus accompanied a group of local Head Start personnel to Santa Fe.
“We got to talk to our Senators and we got to talk to our Representatives, basically to stress the importance of early childhood education,” he said. “There was a group of us parents that went with the executive director Patricia Grovey. We really pushed for early childhood education to be a front-runner of their issues.”
When they met with the New Mexico Head Start Association and learned that the state group needed a parent representative on its board of directors, Grovey nominated Marcus.
Tagged by Hobbs Head Start to perform the organization’s information technology and serve as data specialist, Marcus keeps tabs on immunizations, health exams, dental exams and attendance.
“I’m making sure we are, basically, following the guidelines that the federal government lays out for us,” he said.
Marcus, and his wife Anjelica, are the parents of twin four-year old boys and a three-year-old son all under the umbrella of the Head Start Program. Their youngest child has been in Head Start’s early development program since he was six months old. And through this association Marcus made an impression on Grovey early on.
“Even at the beginning, I was very impressed with the way he parented,” she said. “… He was so involved with his children’s life.”
She said she was delighted with the opportunity to put him on the Head Start staff.
“I’m just so excited about his successful movie career, as well,” Grovey said. “He’s just a great person with a wonderful personality, so willing to help others. He’s been an asset to our agency.”
Anjelica works at the Head Start and said her husband is, “Very bubbly.”
“He can walk into a room and he could change the atmosphere instantly,” Anjelica said. “He could make somebody smile right off the bat. He’s not a shy person. He’s very outgoing. He loves to try new things. Working two jobs and having three boys, he’s on the go constantly.”
Marcus said he’s known about Head Start for some time and is happy with their teaching program and preparing the kids for Kindergarten
“I love it,” he said. “I can see a difference that it makes between my children who are in the program and other children who are on the wait list to be in the program. Just to see a difference in their readiness to be able to go to school.
Meanwhile, “12 Strong” continues to play at theaters nationwide, including at Eagle 9. In its opening weekend it earned $16.5 million at the box office the first weekend.