Get in there, my son.
Directors get really excited about making movies. And sure, why wouldn’t they? Movies are the brain babies of directors, and no matter the quality they hold a warm little place in each heart. However, sometimes directors love their movies a little too much, and cross that sacred line from behind the camera and into the creation. For some, it’s being a little overexcited. For others it’s an inside joke, a little wave to the rest of the biz. And then there’s Quentin Tarantino. Topics like these make one spoilt for choice, so this one wasn’t easy. Humble observers, I present to you the Top 10 Director Appearances in Front of the Camera.
10 | Charlie Chaplin in the silent era
While many in the modern world may not have ever seen a Charlie Chaplin film, he is recognised as a great in the medium. Making his mark in the silent film era, Chapin’s 75-year career was inspiring. He used his comedy in a mixture of improvisation and creative brilliance, and his personal tramp character made the world laugh and cry around him. He makes the list because his work is classic, and because his characters sometimes lead to the audience capturing glimpses of his psyche in a way that almost no other filmmaker has achieved.
9 | Woody Allen in Paris-Manhattan
This one is a little different from the rest because good old Woody featured in a film that was not his own. French director Sophie Lellouche launched her career in film with this debut featuring Allen, which actually featured a main character who was obsessed with him in the film. After originally declining to appear in the film because of his own filming commitments (he was making Midnight in Paris at the time), he had a change of heart and found an hour to give life to the character. Woody makes the list because geeze, what a sweet guy.
8 | Danny DeVito in Matilda
CONFESSION TIME: Matilda is literally one of my most favourite movies of all time; I’ve seen it about 25 times (and yes I still wish that one day I will have powers like Matilda, though I’m sure I’d be far less noble with them. Think more newts down pants and less destruction of school bullies and principles). Danny Devito is just perfect as a mean dad and shoddy business man, really making the role come alive in a way that sticks in your movie memory. He makes the list for being an excellent actor and director – half-arsing it is for chumps.
7 | Peter Jackson in The Lord of the Rings
Ah, The Lord of the Rings. Adventure. Bloodshed. Magic. Orcs. New Zeland. Hairy feet. Peter Jackson. Many of these words will bring warmth to the heart of the LOTR diehard, but also have the unique ability to cause similar feelings in the general public. Director Peter Jackson actually appears in all three of his LOTR creations, and after his appearance in the third one (where he unfortunately is the receiver of one of character Legolas’ ‘warning shots’) had a detailed figurine made in line with the rest of the series. He makes this list because of his willingness to kill off his own characters, and the fact that he jumps into roles to move along production (a true pragmatist always gets A’s).
6 | Spike Lee inMalcolm X
Spike Lee gets big points for the effort in his directing of Malcolm X (he rewrote the original script by Lee and Arnold Perl) as well as his role as ‘Shorty’. The film had so many ties to real life, and made such significant impressions on society at the time, that his role in making it happen deserves a mention.
5 | Steven Spielberg in Gremlins
Gremlins is one of those classic horror-black comedy combos that everyone must see, but this cameo from Spielberg makes the list because it is hilarious. During a scene, Spielberg casually rides by on a huge go-kart contraption, looking cool as a cucumber and having a sweet time while doing it. This one makes the list because it seems the most likely to have been a dare, and you have to love that casual approach to the industry.
4 | Quentin Tarantino in Django Unchained
I have a bone to pick with you, Mr Tarantino. As someone who resides in Australia and yes, indeed also may speak with an Australian accent, I get pretty tired of witnessing them being butchered in movies and other creative mediums. I don’t want to be reminded of how course I sound, or how unsexy it may seem. I especially don’t want to see an Australian character that is not only awful to listen to, but also appears outside of a logical historical time period and is a really just a downright odd caricature. I take my hat off to you Quentin, you are certainly not a lazy man, though you do have to wonder while watching his cameo, if everyone else in the room looks in any other direction other than him until its over. This one makes the list because overkill. (P.S. Still love your work Quentin.)
3 | Roman Polanski in Chinatown
Roman Polanski’s back catalogue of work is impressive and he has many fans worldwide. In Chinatown he appears as a goon and does a surprisingly excellent job of the role; he has a presence on the screen that was an incredible attribute to his film. He gets the list because he did a bang up job in his little cameo, and finished the product with serious style.
2 | Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino
You have to give props to Clint Eastwood for this daring and fascinating character. Creating such a beautiful and thought-provoking piece of film is a challenge in itself- to act in a way that makes the film brilliant is something else. I’ll always be amazed with how well some individuals self-direct, and Clint Eastwood is a prime example of this. He makes the list for being a serious badass on screen and off.
1 | Alfred Hitchcock in every cameo he’s ever done
Cameos are this wonderful man’s signature. Out of the 52 films Alfred Hitchcock has directed, 32 of them featured him in one sneaky way or another. He has played a passenger on a bus, a pedestrian and even a photograph in a newspaper. He often carried musical instruments (a double bass in Strangers on a Train) and his fans would be so excited for his appearances that he would place them early in films to prevent them from being too distracting. He makes the list for being incredibly considerate of his fans, and because he also let his two Sealyham terriers Geoffrey and Stanley feature with him in the horror classic The Birds.