The appeal of the cameo is inexplicable, but most certainly a real thing. It’s difficult to say why we find it so great when a recognisable face turns up in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role, but time and time again cameos make for some of the most memorable moments in film. ReelGood looked back at some of the more unexpected cameos in cinema history.
Michael Cera | This Is The End (2013)
Some of the best cameos have a certain self-awareness about the participants. Michael Cera plays himself completely against the dweeby on-screen image that he’d accumulated thanks to the likes of Arrested Development and Superbad.
Bill Murray | Zombieland (2009)
Arguably the greatest cameo of them all. The world of Bill Murray Fandom continues even into a zombie apocalypse. “There are six people left in the world, and one of them is Bill ****ing Murray!”
Matt Damon | EuroTrip (2004)
Matt Damon is generally pretty welcome wherever he shows up. He’s certainly the highlight of 2004’s absolute stinker EuroTrip, in which he unsubtly reveals to main character Scottie that he’s been sleeping with Scottie’s girlfriend, Fiona.
Mark Hamill | Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
Mark Hamill will never escape the clutches of Star Wars fans, but at least it seems like he’s in on the joke. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but at least it’s got Mark Hamill in it.
Totoro | Toy Story 3 (2010)
There’s another writer for ReelGood who I think would have been particularly delighted with this cameo. The films of Hayao Miyazaki have oft been praised by the people at PIXAR, especially John Lasseter, so it’s only fitting that Totoro popped up in the best of the Toy Story films.
Martin Sheen | Hot Shots Part Deux (1993)
Martin Sheen is just good and there’s no way around it. With his cameo in Hot Shots Part Deux, Sheen manages to support his son and at the same time remind everyone that he was in one of the greatest films of all time.
Cate Blanchett | Hot Fuzz (2007)
It took ReelGood the longest time to even realise that Cate Blanchett was actually in Hot Fuzz. The decision to cast one of the most recognisable and beautiful actresses on the planet and then cover her face entirely is worth admission to this list alone.
Samuel L. Jackson | Iron Man (2008)
Not the greatest cameo of all time but certainly a surprise. Samuel L. Jackson’s appearance at the end of Iron Man would plant the seeds of things to come. It’s hard to imagine anybody else as Nick Fury now.
Buster Keaton | Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Sunset Blvd. is the story of an ageing silent film star who faded into obscurity after the introduction of sound to cinema. Keaton wasn’t made quite so irrelevant by the beginning of ‘talkies’, but there’s something nicely sentimental about him cameo-ing in Sunset Blvd., long after his heyday during the silent era.
Alfred Hitchcock | All of Them
Aside from being one of the most accomplished filmmakers to have lived, Hitchcock was also famous for hiding himself in each and every one of his films. There’s no particular cameo over the course of Hitchock’s lengthy career that could be singled out as the greatest, but the sheer number deserves recognition.
Alice Cooper | Wayne’s World (1992)
Garth and Wayne bow down to Cooper (“We’re not worthy!”) after an incredible one-man show, only to find that the rock legend and his band have far more on his mind than rocking out and partying.
Charlie Sheen | Being John Malkovich (1999)
The pairing of Charlie Sheen and John Malkovich as best friends was right under our noses for years, it just took screenwriter Charlie Kaufman to realise it. Watching Sheen discuss crazy witch sex with Malkovich is extremely satisfying, and we have no explanation as to why.
Bruce Willis and Julie Roberts | The Player (1992)
The Player is a film loaded with memorable cameos, but none more so than Julia Roberts and Bruce Willis in the movie within a movie “Habeas Corpus”. Originally pitched to a sleazy studio executive as a hard hitting drama that disregards the Hollywood inclination for the happy ending. Ultimately though, we find out that even “Habeas Corpus” isn’t immune to Hollywood meddling.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar | Airplane! (Flying High) (1980)
“Wait a minute. I know you. You’re Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. You play basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers!”
“I’m sorry, son, but you must have me confused with someone else. My name is Roger Murdock. I’m the co-pilot.”
Neil Patrick Harris | Harold and Kumar go to White Castle (2004)
At the time of the first Harold and Kumar film, there were a lot of people, including many of the ReelGood team, who had never even heard of Neil Patrick Harris or Doogie Howser M.D. It’s a testament to this cameo then, that it’s still quite funny to those ignorant of the man or his work.