Cameos can be so much fun! A good “surprise” cameo should be memorable but not distracting. Dan Grant takes a look at his top 10 surprise cameos in film including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bob Hope and Bill Murray.
A surprise cameo can sometimes be a nudge and a wink to the audience. There’s just something gratifying about seeing another actor or director in a film but for a brief moment. Cameos are usually not advertised and many times they even go unmentioned and they are rarely in the closing credits. I wanted to include Tom Cruise’s cameo in Young Guns, but it is so quick and he is in such heavy costuming that you really don’t recognize him. But if you were unaware of Tom Cruise’s cameo in Young Guns, just look for it on You-Tube. The reason for his quick 3-second cameo is that he was visiting Emilio Estevez on set and they were just getting ready for one of the big shootouts. Cruise asked if he could be in the shootout as an extra. Estevez loved the idea so they got Cruise into cowboy gear and he gets shot and killed in a fabulous blaze of glory.
10. Channing Tatum
This Is The End
As far as shocking cameos goes, this has to be the most shocking. Danny McBride has been banished from his group of friends basically for trying to sabotage them every chance he got. When they finally meet up with him again, he is now the leader of a group of Mad Max rejects who also have chosen cannibalism as their way of survival. McBride also has a man on a chain dressed to look like the Gimp from Pulp Fiction. McBride tells his buddies that he basically uses this gimp as his sex slave. When he takes off his hood to reveal that he is Channing Tatum, you don’t know how to feel. First you laugh, then you gasp, then you laugh some more.
9. Ryan Reynolds
A Million Ways To Die In The West
After appearing in Ted, Seth McFarlane thought it would be funny if Ryan Reynolds could appear again briefly in A Million Ways to Die in the West. I’m a pretty big Reynolds fan so seeing him just show up, get shot and then die was pretty funny to me. Liam Neeson walks into a bar and wants to know who’s having an affair with his wife. He points a gun at the throng of people in the bar and then points it at Reynolds and asks him if it was him who was having the affair. Reynolds just shrugs his shoulders before getting shot by Neeson.
8. Neil Patrick Harris
Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle
NPH, as he is now known to his legion of fans, was simply the baby faced doctor on the American TV show Doogie Howser M.D. back in his early career. On the show he plays a precocious teenager who also happens to be a licensed physician. After the show, he had difficulty getting work in Hollywood because no one could see him as anything but the young baby faced doctor from the show. All that changed when Kal Penn and John Cho meet up with Harris, playing himself, but as a sleezy and lethal womanizer. His cameo in White Castle is funny, but his cameos in the follow up Guantanamo Bay and the 3D Christmas are stuff of legend. He of course plays against type and that’s what makes the cameo so shocking and downright hilarious. It also propelled his career into a different stratosphere.
7. Arnold Schwarzenegger
This is one of those blink and you’ll miss it cameos. In 2003, The Rock Dwayne Johnson was still very new to Hollywood. This was his first real starring role. He had done The Scorpion King before that but this was his chance to headline a film all by himself. The Rock plays a bounty hunter and in the scene with Arnold, he is heading into a club to retrieve one of the bad guys. Arnold walks by him and just says, “Have fun.” The rumour is that Arnold is ceremoniously passing the action hero torch to The Rock in this five-second scene. He just looks at him quickly and gives him the line. Of course in context, he is telling him to have fun trying to retrieve the bounty on this man or trying to bring the man in. But what he really meant, according to rumour is that he should have fun being the next action hero. Thirteen years later, it looks like The Rock has definitely taken heed of Arnold’s request.
6. Ben Stiller
It’s tough to choose one cameo from this film or even from the sequel, because there are so many worth mentioning. Ben Stiller’s quick and brief appearance in the news anchor rumble scene is the scene stealer of the film. Here, he plays a Spanish news anchor with a porn mustache and feathered hair. He brings a whip to the fight and spouts off nonsense. The whole scene is nonsensical but it’s also one of the most iconic scenes in comedy. Stiller was the creme de la creme as he followed up cameos by Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Tim Robbins.
5. Sean Connery
Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves
In another shocking scene but one that ends the film on an incredible high note, Sean Connery plays King Richard, who had been away and almost lost his kingdom to the sheriff of Nottingham. Robin Hood saves the day and he is about the marry the kings cousin. King Richard then shows up and says he will not allow this wedding……UNLESS…he is allowed to give the bride away. It’s a terrific moment reuniting Kevin Costner and Connery who four years earlier had starred in The Untouchables together. Seeing Connery in full King Richard dress made a terrific film even that much better.
4. Danny Glover
Directed by Richard Donner and starring Mel Gibson, Maverick is a 1994 film about the old west and a poker game. In the scene where Danny Glover has his cameo, he robs a bank that Gibson is in. During the robbery, all played for laughs, Gibson pulls the hanky down from Glover’s face and when they look at each other, the Lethal Weapon theme plays. They both shake their heads and say “Nah”. When Glover makes his getaway, he even says the signature line, “I’m getting too old for this shit.”
3. Bob Hope
Spies Like Us
Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase play two government agents who think they are spies but they are really decoys so that the real agents can do their job. In this scene, they are in the middle of the desert at some kind of refugee camp. They are mistaken for a pair of world renowned doctors. As they begin to meet their fellow medical professionals at the camp, they each go around acknowledging each other as doctors. When the others leave the tent, Chase and Aykroyd are in a state of panic wondering how they are going to pull this charade off, as they are supposed to be performing surgery later in the day. Suddenly, a golf ball whizzes past them and knocks over a vase. Bob Hope then comes through the door and asks them if they mind if he plays through. Just before he leaves he says, “Doctor. Doctor. Glad I’m not sick.” It’s a truly bizaare yet hilarious cameo.
2. Bill Murray
During the zombie apocalypse, Tallahassee as played by Woody Harrelson, tells his group of friends that he knows a place in Hollywood where they can hold up. They go to Bill Murray’s mansion as Tallahassee tells them that he is the greatest actor of all time. As Harrelson and Emma Stone explore the house, they meet up with a very much alive but zombie-looking Murray. He tells that that he dresses this way so that the undead leave him alone. They then proceed to do a mock scene from Ghostbusters, ripe with Murray donning the power pack and with Ghostbusters music. Murray later gets shot by Jesse Eisenberg who thinks he’s really a zombie. I’m not sure how the filmmakers got Murray to do this part because most things I’ve read about Murray paint him as a cantankerous old fellow but somehow they got him to do a scene from Ghostbusters, dress up like a zombie and smoke a bunch of weed. This makes for one of the greatest cameos in film history, in my opinion. But not quite as good as number one.
1. Matt Damon
This makes my number one spot on the list simply because there is so little known about it and it is simply one of the biggest WTF moments in the film and WTF cameos I’ve ever seen. I have no idea how or why Damon would appear in this film. In 2004, the year Eurotrip came out, he was in The Bourne Supremacy and Ocean’s Twelve. So what the hell was Damon doing in a high school film singing about a tramp that he slept with behind one of the main character’s back. I’ll let you research that on your own. But it has something to do with a Harvard University connection. The cameo has a bald, tattoo-covered Damon on stage belting out a tune about said “sex kitten”. It’s such a shocking and absurd cameo and it’s in a film that was a box office bomb. But there’s Matt Damon jamming on stage describing in detail all of the behind-closed-door things he does to Scotty’s girlfriend, and of course, Scotty doesn’t know anything about it.
Written & Compiled by Dan Grant
What have we missed? Name your fave surprise cameos in film…
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