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Out of the jungle to studio safety

Eugene Byrd can tell stories about filming the 'Anaconda' sequel, but he's also excited about crossing over to 'Jordan.'

August 29, 2004|Susan King

Eugene BYRD ("8 Mile") finds it ironic that he didn't see one actual snake while filming the thriller "Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid" last year in Fiji.

"The only snakes I saw were the animatronic or fake ones we had on the set," says Byrd, 29.

In the sequel to the 1997 camp classic "Anaconda," Byrd is the wisecracking computer-geek member of an expedition into the deepest, darkest jungles of South America in search of a rare orchid that may contain a fountain-of-youth serum. Unbeknown to everyone, though, it's the mating season of giant anacondas.

Byrd, who hails from Philadelphia, did have some close encounters with beasties during the three months he was in Fiji. "I saw a spider the size of my palm in my bathroom the first day I was there," he says, laughing. "I have seen roaches in my life and I have seen other spiders, but that one was a big spider!

Then on his birthday, the film's producer treated him to a day at a resort. "I had a bungalow with my girlfriend and I spent half the night chasing a mouse, chasing him down!"

Though the actor says he had a lot of fun making "Anacondas," the experience was a baptism by fire for him. "We were in were up to our waist and it was freezing water," says Byrd. "We had to go down a mud slide at one point. We had changing weather patterns. Literally in 20 minutes one day we had sun, rain, wind, cold and heat."

Byrd is now working on a nice, climate-controlled soundstage at Universal on the NBC drama series, "Crossing Jordan." He's joining the series playing another cocky wisecracker -- this time a medical examiner with a massive ego.

Though he had an opportunity to make another film, Byrd opted to do the TV series. "I could have been in a big film with a role I didn't particularly like.... But I am more of a person where I will give up money if the role is right."

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