Cameos are a glorious and fun way to spice up a film. While some pretentious connoisseurs of cinema may argue that they’re a cheap grab for laughter and end up alienating the audience from the crucial elements of story, most film goers love a good old fashioned cameo! They add levity to potentially serious situations; they create levels of depth in a character that writing often fails to do; they remind us that something greater is happening behind the scenes of the movie we’re watching. Cameos are fantastic fun.
They’re also great opportunities for talented artists from all walks of the celebrity world to take part in something they’ve never done before (like a movie). Many actors spend their educations, their free time, their entire lives on finely-tuning their craft and skills. Other industry professionals don’t have the time for that; they’re too busy trying to stay on top of their own careers to try to master the skills of acting!
Sometimes you’ll see actors in cameos of other films because it gives them a chance to do something no other acting job has given them before or is unlikely to give them in the future. Whether that opportunity is outlandish and involves a heavy costume, a revisit to something the actor did long ago, or simply exciting and tantalizing, sometimes actors enjoy taking wild and crazy jobs!
So let’s take a second to find some of those super sneaky celebrities and directors; those who wanted audiences to get excited about discovering their appearance in the movie, or who didn’t necessarily want to be recognized at all! Here are fifteen sneaky high profile celebrity cameos! [SPOILERS AHEAD!]
15. Glenn Close in Hook
This must be the wrong picture, right? Glenn Close is a refined, elegant, graceful actress, best known for her roles in Guardians of the Galaxy (Nova Prime), Dangerous Liaisons (Marquise de Merteuil), and Mars Attacks! (First Lady Marsha Dale), and she’s the most high profile celebrity starring alongside Gemma Arterton in the highly anticipated upcoming film, The Girl With All The Gifts (Dr. Caroline Caldwell). Glenn Close has had and continues to have a very prolific and successful career, but she wasn’t in the movie Hook, was she?
In fact, she was in Steven Spielberg‘s imaginative Peter Pan sequel and this is her! Glenn Close spoke in a lower register and donned a lot of makeup, a wig, and a big, bushy fake beard to play Gutless, who bet against Captain Hook and came to regret his decision when he’s thrown in the “Boo Box,” which was a wooden chest with a scorpion in it.
14. Chris Martin in Shaun of the Dead
The lead singer of the popular band Coldplay seemingly has a flair for the dramatic, too! That’s one of the many reasons he ended up in Edgar Wright’s horror comedy, Shaun of the Dead. If you look carefully towards the end of the film, when Shaun and Liz are leaving the pub, you can see the recently deceased Coldplay singer shambling around in the background, trying to grab a bite off of the only living people left around!
Funny enough, Chris Martin has a spectacular relationship with Simon Pegg; he even made Simon the Godfather to the daughter he sired with Gwyneth Paltrow, Apple! According to the singer, the two pals have been strong friends for over 15 years through some of the best and hardest times of their lives. Though they each have their separate focuses, Chris in music and Simon in film, it’s great that the two are able to share their career successes with each other.
13. Garrett Morris in Ant Man
You may only briefly remember Garrett Morris’ appearance in the movie. He played a cab driver for Ant Man in a short scene. So who cares, right? The actor isn’t such a big deal, is he? Wasn’t that just a random casting choice?
Uh, yeah he is a big deal and that was a very particular and specialized casting choice! Though Garrett spends his time these days on 2 Broke Girls with the occasional appearance in other films, he got his start on Saturday Night Live with some of the most iconic cast members that made the show famous. We’re talking about Bill Murray, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Jane Curtin! Hilariously enough, Garrett actually played Ant Man in a Saturday Night Live sketch about a party for superheroes! It was one of the few spotlight moments for Ant Man back then, and it was a total spoof of the character. It only follows suit that he’d make an appearance in the new and improved Ant Man!
12. Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street
No, we don’t mean the old 1980s television series; we’re talking about the 2012 movie remake, starring Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, and Brie Larson. When the movie was announced, there were a lot of eye rolls from fans of the old series. “Why remake something already so good?” “It was already so perfect!” “Who could do 21 Jump Street better than Johnny Depp?”
Well the studios heard your concerns and made a few calls. Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise showed up periodically throughout the film, always wearing elaborate disguises including fake noses, wigs, and fake beards, and finally unmasked themselves briefly at the end as their original characters, Tom Hanson and Doug Penhall. The two share a quick interchange with rookie cops Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) before getting brutally murdered by Domingo (DeRay Davis) and his band of bad guys, perhaps an unhappy ending for any fans of the original series.
11. Jimmy Buffett in Jurassic World
Jimmy Buffett is best known for his singing and songwriting. His American island-escapism music is known worldwide; even if you don’t think you’ve heard of him, you’ve certainly heard some of his top hits, like Margaritaville, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Come Monday, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere, A Pirate Looks at Forty, and Come Monday. He’s widely known as a laid back, relaxed, fun-loving guy. And those who know him well loved his brief cameo in Jurassic World.
This reboot to the Jurassic Park series was full of big name celebrities and product placement. Throughout the main thoroughfare of the park, you could see snippets advertising plenty of different restaurants and stores (an overwhelming amount of product placement, actually) but the most important location you’ll see is Jimmy Buffett’s restaurant, Margaritaville. When the dinosaurs are suddenly loose and terrorizing the patrons, watch for Jimmy Buffett, who carefully grabs up two full margaritas before jogging away from an attacking pterodactyl!
10. Chuck Norris in Dodgeball
It’s not like Dodgeball had many serious moments in it. In this quirky and twisted comedy, there were surprise appearances from celebrities like Lance Armstrong and William Shatner, but the most exciting and hilarious cameo had to be Chuck Norris‘. At the climax of the film, when White Goodman’s (Ben Stiller) Globo-naut team is set to face Peter La Fleur’s (Vince Vaughn) Average Joes in a dodgeball match to rock ESPN (the ocho) fans everywhere, a decision must be voted on by the tournament’s three judges, whom we have not seen at all at any point in the tournament up to this point in the film. As the camera pans across them, we see the decision is all up to the final judge, who turns out to be Chuck Norris! Why is Chuck there? Why not, is the better question. Chuck Norris can do whatever he wants; he is Chuck Norris, after all.
9. R. L. Stine in Goosebumps
Any child who grew up in the 1990s knew who R. L. Stine was: his name marked our favorite books and the pages he wrote filled our heads with nightmares. This man introduced many of us children to what scary terrors could lay outside our front door; you know, the abominable snowman, possessed dummies, and evil killer garden gnomes. Typical horror story stuff.
Goosebumps was a movie made in 2015 starring Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, and Odeya Rush that mashed some of our favorite Goosebumps stories into one cohesive plot, wherein the horrific characters sometimes escape the pages of the author’s books. The role of R. L. Stine is played by Jack Black, but that didn’t keep the real R. L. Stine from making an appearance in the film as the high school drama teacher Mr. Black; clearly, the writers thought they were really clever. Though Stine wasn’t crazy about how his character was written in the movie, he admitted it was fun to watch his stories be brought to the screen again.
8. Kristen Wiig in Her
Look at that cute and innocent smile; Kristen Wiig is such a little darling, is she not? She looks so sweet and innocent!
Not in Her, she wasn’t! Though you never got to see Kristen Wiig’s adorable face, she got to play the sexy, kinky, and a little crazy sexual interlude of Joaquin Phoenix early on in the film. When Joaquin’s character, Theodore, gets to feeling a little lonely, he engages in what is essentially a phone-sex network where he meets a woman with a weird interest in cats. In the middle of their interchange, Kristen Wiig’s character (affectionately referred to as SexyKitten) asks him to describe strangling her with the tail of a dead cat that’s beside her bed. Theodore is promptly turned off, of course, and the interaction helps him to recognize that he needs to make some changes in his life to avoid interacting with women like this in the future.
7. Cate Blanchett in Hot Fuzz
Early on in Edgar Wrights quirky, dark, and comedic mystery-thriller, Sergeant Nicholas Angel, played by the always hilarious Simon Pegg, proves himself to be an over-zealous and career-obsessed London cop who has worked himself out of his cushy metropolitan job and landed a reassignment in the middle of nowhere, Sandford. Before leaving for his new placement in the country, he goes to a crime scene to visit with his CSI ex-girlfriend, Janine. Janine, like all her coworkers on the scene, is dressed head to toe in a sterile outfit that makes her look just like everyone else. But Janine isn’t just anybody; Janine is played by the highly talented, absolutely gorgeous, and surprising Cate Blanchett! Though uncredited in the film, that’s Cate behind that paper mask and plastic googles, telling Nicholas Angel that he doesn’t know how to love another person properly because he’s too committed to his job.
6. Peter Jackson in Hot Fuzz
Cate Blanchett wasn’t the only super talented cast member from The Lord of the Rings series to make an appearance in the Edgar Wright cop action film Hot Fuzz. Director of The Lord of the Rings films, who also insisted on his own brief cameos in each of his movies, made a quick but hilarious appearance in Hot Fuzz. In the opening moments of the film, as Sergeant Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) runs through his lists of trained skills and accomplishments, he includes some wild examples: advanced police driver and cyclist, holding the record for the hundred meter dash, master of chess and fencing in the police service, and sustaining an injury from a drunk and violent Father Christmas, played by Peter Jackson! That’s right, this crazy-eyed, pocket-knife wielding, lunatic Santa Claus impersonator is none other than Peter Jackson in a big fake bushy white beard and wig.
5. Alanis Morissette in Dogma
Dogma is arguably Kevin Smith‘s weirdest and most quirky serio-comedy. The film, which is about a woman working at an abortion clinic who receives a calling to stop two renegade fallen angels from attempting to return to heaven, is rife with weird puns and jokes, and plenty of hilarious mishaps from a talented cast of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Rock, Alan Rickman, and Linda Fiorentino.
There are plenty of weird moments throughout the film, like Metatron’s, (played by Alan Rickman) strange and abrupt introduction in the film; or the ridiculous and hilariously heroic entrance of Jay and Silent Bob; Chris Rock’s naked fall from the sky; or the appearance of God at the end of the film, who is… Alanis Morissette? Yes, Alanis Morissette! God, who is frequently throughout the film referred to as a man, is suddenly a woman and Alanis Morissette, the angry chick-punk singer. Isn’t that ironic?
4. Michael Jackson in Men in Black 2
Men in Black is practically a 90’s classic. The action/comedy science fiction film about aliens living among us starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Linda Fiorentino was an instant hit; in fact, it was so popular that after a few years passed, the studios greenlighted a sequel to reunite the cast and make even more money.
Unfortunately, Men in Black 2 wasn’t as good as its predecessor. Starring the same dynamic alien policing duo as well as Rosario Dawson, the movie was about saving the world (yet again) from a vicious alien looking to wipe out another alien spaces, using Earth as their battlefield. It’s not exactly high-brow entertainment, but it’s full of great moments including Michael Jackson‘s brief cameos: an undercover operative of MIB, Michael Jackson calls Zed from Antarctica, surrounded by penguins, reporting that a treaty’s been signed and begging to be an official agent. He also pops up again later in a prank call made by Zed.
3. Kurt Vonnegut in Back to School
Speaking of low-brow humor, Rodney Dangerfield was a master at earning cheap laughs at the expense of fart jokes, sexual humor, and silly witticisms. In his 1986 comedy about returning to college with his son in order to help him endure the demanding and rigorous collegiate life, Rodney Dangerfield got plenty of laughs by utilizing a lot of physical humor, jokes about sexuality, and other immature means of comedy. That’s not to say that this film has no intellectual qualities, though.
Thorton Melon, played by Rodney Dangerfield, recruits an intellectual to help him try to write an essay in order to pass one of his classes that is taught by a woman he’s fallen in love with. That intellectual is Kurt Vonnegut himself, author of such classic literary works as Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat’s Cradle, and A Man Without a Country. Hilariously enough, Vonnegut writes the essay for Thorton in the film, and Thorton still fails!
2. Daniel Craig in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Plenty of actors wanted to stick their noses in the newest Star Wars installment. They must’ve all known that J. J. Abrams would make the saga great again! Simon Pegg can be heard doing the voice of the Tatooine market trader, Unkar Plutt; the voice of BB-8 was comprised of sounds made by actors Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz; Kevin Smith did voice-overs for an as-of-yet unidentified character; Thomas Brodie-Sangster appeared as a petty officer who gets one line off before being blown to bits by Poe and Finn; and, perhaps most hilariously, Daniel Craig, better known from his roles in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the James Bond franchise, played this storm trooper who had the misfortune to play guinea pig to Rey’s Jedi mind tricks, as she instructs him to set her free. The stormtrooper says very little and his appearance on screen is limited, but that’s Daniel Craig under that shiny white armored suit!
1. Stan Lee in EVERY MARVEL MOVIE!
Stan Lee, one of the original writers of Marvel comics, still has the exciting job of playing producer to all of the Marvel films. Though he doesn’t get to do much of the heavy lifting, like script writing or managing the always crossing storylines in the Marvel universe, he does get the fun jobs of approving final scripts and jumping in front of the camera for a cameo in each film. Studios always feature a cameo of Stan Lee in their Marvel films in order to honor him; it’s a way for the fans and studios to show their appreciation for the wonderful marvel of a universe he has created for us.
Some of his cameos are downright hilarious. In Thor: The Dark World, he appears as a mental patient listening to the ramblings of Dr. Erik Selvig; in the 2003 Ang Lee Hulk movie, he starred with Lou Ferrigno (who played the original Hulk) as security guards; in Iron Man, he impersonates (very well) Hugh Hefner; in Iron Man 2, he impersonates (very well, in fact) Larry King; possibly the sweetest is his appearance at the end of The Avengers, when he’s interviewed as Hank Excelsior about the attack on New York!