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What do I mean by this question? Well, when watching making of videos, or even when a show like CSI, or Law and Order might have a movie production in an episode's plot, quite often they will show the table full of food.

Why does it seem like actors are all constantly (over)fed on set?

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Val Kilmer definitely didn't starve himself. – JohnP May 30 '14 at 1:30
up vote 9 down vote accepted

In the US meal breaks for actors are regulated by the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Actors (SAG/AFTRA) and are usually provided by the Craft Services Department.

According to the Union rules found here

The performer must be given the first meal break within six hours from the time of first call. The provisions for meal periods are the same for all performers. Please note that, for the purpose of synchronizing performer and crew meal-time, the performer may be given a non-deductible meal of 15 minutes free from all activity within two hours of the performer’s call time. An announcement should be made and a notation indicating the start and finish time of the non-deductible meal must be on the production time report. The following is then allowable: The first meal break would then be due six hours from the end of the non-deductible meal. The second meal break must be called within six hours from the time of call back from the first meal break. The Producer can deduct actual time up to one hour spent at meals. A twelve minute grace period to set up provided the six hour period is not already extended due to camera being in the course of photography. Meal penalty payments for violations of either meal period are: for the first half-hour, or fraction thereof $ 25 for the second half-hour $ 35 for each half-hour thereafter $ 50

When you see the craft services tables piled up with food keep in mind this is not only for the actors but also for the crew which usually outnumbers actors 3 to 1.

As for the starving actor image, standard background actors are paid $148/day plus travel cost and any overtime. Not bad but if you only work for a week you better have another job.

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$148 a day if you work "full time" is a little under $36,000/year (US) gross. There are fast food workers making more than that. – JohnP May 30 '14 at 1:32
@JohnP I'm calling shenanigans - what fast food chain pays $17.30 an hour? I made $4.75 an hour at Arby's circa 1994. Can't be that much inflation. – coburne May 30 '14 at 13:11
Shift managers and asisstants and higher. The counter jockeys don't make that much, minimum is $7.25 currently or something like that. – JohnP May 30 '14 at 13:39
@coburne Common misconception. Inflation, like all compound interest, seems small, but adds up. If you assume just 2% inflation, $100 in 1994 is equivalent to $148. (With that said, JohnP's point is the main one, your manager at Arby's was definitely not making $4.75 as well.) – Domingo Ignacio May 30 '14 at 22:31
@DomingoIgnacio At the risk of further derailing :) ...Glassdoor lists shift manager wages at arbys, mcdonalds, burger king, dominos, dairy queen, papa johns, and jimmy johns all under $10 an hour. Regular manager probably a couple bucks more at most. Store managers might make a decent sounding salary, but work a ridiculous number of hours a week. – coburne Jun 9 '14 at 16:19

Often on shooting sets a table with food and snacks will be provided at all times. It's called a craft service, and it's there to provide nourishment not only for the actors but to all the filming crew. It gives the crew quick access to food and drink so that they don't need to leave the set if they get hungry. Here's a nice article on the subject.

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