What do 80s Rock N’ Roll legends Guns N’ Roses, powerhouse actor George Clooney, and basketball sensation Patrick Ewing have in common? They’re just three of the ten celebrities listed below who had some of the most pointless or downright confusing cameos in popular movies.
Yes, cameos are a lot of fun, and seeing someone famous unexpectedly pop up for a few minutes in a movie is bound to make anyone smile or at least talk about it during the drive home from the cinema. Remember Christopher Walken’s brief yet captivating performance in True Romance (1993)? I know I do, because it was an awesome cameo. How about when Leonard Nimoy showed up as Spock in the rebooted Star Trek movies? Those were cool, too. The celebrities that I’ve listed, however, showed up in movies but were either completely unnoticed or had to play roles that quite literally could have been done by anyone else. Simply put, these are the cameos that made no sense, didn’t need to be there, or just left you wondering “what the heck did I just see?”
10. Patrick Ewing – The Exorcist III (1990)
I’m not sure what’s more bizarre; the fact that there’s a third Exorcist movie or that basketball sensation Patrick Ewing abruptly shows up in it wearing full-blown angel garb. This confusing cameo takes place during a dream sequence. Everything is eerie enough until you realize that Ewing is sporting a white robe and has giant feathered wings, and then you’re left perplexed as to what exactly you’re looking at. It doesn’t help that the camera awkwardly stalls on his face for a few seconds, just to make sure you know it’s really none other than Patrick Ewing himself. Not only does this odd casting for an angel take the audience straight out of the movie, it also completely ruins what could have been a genuinely unsettling scene. Can you spot any other celebrity cameos in this scene?
9. Guns N’ Roses – The Dead Pool (1988)
Some would argue that the Dirty Harry movies had gone on for way too long at this point, but a bigger complaint would be this odd cameo. During a funeral scene in which Clint Eastwood’s rugged detective questions a young Liam Neeson, the members of iconic metal band Guns N’ Roses can be seen scuffling about, wearing typical rockstar clothing. There’s a shot with a crying family member, which for all intents and purposes is meant to be a sad scene until you notice Axl Rose standing behind her in a leather vest and purple bandana. Classy. I guess it makes sense that they’d be there since the deceased happens to be a famous actor in the film, but the fact that they’re never focused on makes their appearance in this movie completely pointless and mildly confusing. It leaves audiences wondering why a group of people dressed like they’re headed to a rock concert are hanging out at this particular funeral.
8. Mr. T and Richard Kiel – Inspector Gadget (1999)
Inspector Gadget may have bombed as a film, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to shoehorn in a famous face or two for the sake of it. In one of the most awkward cameos I’ve come across, both Mr. T and Richard Kiel, the latter famously known as the villainous Jaws from the James Bond films, show up during the film’s credits sequence in what looks like a group therapy session for popular bad guys . This would have been a decent cameo if not for the fact that both Mr. T and Kiel are barely dressed as their respective characters, sporting what seems like ordinary everyday clothing. Also, everyone else in the scene is supposed to be a famous villain as well, but they’re being played by stand-ins and not the original actors.
7. Ron Jeremy – Ghostbusters (1984)
Let’s be honest, you know who Ron Jeremy is. He’s in that movie “your friend” showed you once, remember? Famous adult-movie star Ron Jeremy showed up in Ghostbusters for a few seconds in a complete non-cameo, appearing to the far left of the screen as a panicked pedestrian, mostly obscured by barricades and steam from an open manhole. Say “manhole” in the same sentence as Ron Jeremy and it suddenly sounds dirty, doesn’t it? I guess the bigger surprise here is that Ron actually started and ended a full scene with his clothes still on.
6. Peter Jackson – Hot Fuzz (2007)
Some may argue that Cate Blanchett had an equally obscure cameo in Hot Fuzz but let’s be serious, even though we never see her face, her unmistakable voice should be enough to tell us it’s Blanchett under the mask. Peter Jackson, however, shows up as Santa Claus in the film, and his face is blocked by a beard and an arm for all two seconds. Apparently the Lord Of The Rings director is a big fan of Edgar Wright’s work and wanted to be in the film, which is fine but really, the only people who knew it was him were the people behind the film itself. The audience had no idea, and some of us would only learn of Jackson’s presence in the movie while surfing through Blu-Ray extras or Googling article ideas for The Richest.
5. Glenn Close – Hook (1991)
In Steven Spielberg’s Hook, a sequel of sorts to the classic story of Peter Pan, Glenn Close shows up as Gutless, a male crew member atop Captain Hook’s ship, who is sentenced to the dreaded Boo Box for being a traitor. It’s a fun little scene that depicts the vile nature of Dustin Hoffman’s menacing character, with the only real issue being no one knew it was Glenn Close playing Gutless under that oddly pubescent beard. I’m not sure if that’s a wasted cameo or a testament to Close’s incredible acting prowess. All is not in vain though, as Glenn Close would be nominated for an Oscar for once again posing as a man in Albert Nobbs some twenty years later.
4. George Clooney – Thin Red Line (1998)
Only someone like Terrence Malick could get a high-profile actor like George Clooney to show up at the tail end of his film and say mostly inaudible lines. It’s a noticeable cameo, and one that’s very confusing to the audience. For one, that’s clearly George Clooney, when it didn’t at all have to be. It’s not like he’s giving us a riveting performance here that requires his meticulous acting skills. And two, the fact that his appearance only serves as a backdrop to Sean Penn’s internal monologue is equally baffling, forcing audiences to either listen to what Penn is saying or focus on the fact that famous Hollywood actor George Clooney suddenly showed up in this movie.
3. Dan Aykroyd – Temple Of Doom (1984)
Dan Aykroyd is a good actor, which is why his borderline-invisible cameo in Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom doesn’t make much sense. To be fair, Aykroyd would only become really famous later that same year with the release of Ghostbusters, but with credentials like Blues Brothers under his belt, he wasn’t exactly unrecognizable either. Dan Aykroyd shows up as Weber, an Englishman who helps Indy charter a private plane which eventually turns out to be a trap. Not only is Aykroyd’s face never focused on, but his whole self is conveniently blocked by props, planes, or masked by fog. He also puts on an accent, which seals the deal on this cameo as one that flew right over everyone’s heads at the time.
2. Bruce Campbell – Fargo (1996)
Bruce Campbell must really like cameos. While his guest appearances in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films are nothing short of hilarious, he also had a cameo in Fargo that you’d totally miss if you even half-blinked. Peter Stormare’s character Gaear Grimsrud is really into TV shows, and if you pause at the right moment, you’ll see a barely recognizable Bruce Campbell playing a character on TV. I say barely recognizable because the whole joke about the TV is that it has lousy reception, so even if you did catch it, Campbell’s face is mostly blurry and obscured by running signal lines and TV static.
1. Stan Lee – The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)
If they gave out awards for best cameos, Stan Lee would probably win a few for his fleeting yet memorable scenes in almost every Marvel film. But wait, The Princess Diaries 2 isn’t a Marvel movie… so what’s Stan Lee doing here? This would have made sense if The Princess Diaries 2 was a comedy with a slew of pop-culture references, but it’s not even close to being that kind of movie. Did the filmmakers not understand that Marvel is connected by the same creative tissue and that’s why Stan makes appearances there, and instead assumed that having Stan Lee pop up was the new “in-thing” that movies just did for fun? The scene is so odd that it sticks out like a sore thumb, almost ruining the flow of a relatively decent film for its respective genre.