I love watching movies for lots of reasons. A big reason, though, is naming the actors: I like to imagine my mind as a catalog for actors’ faces and names and past films, so watching a film is an exercise for my brain! This gets super fun when cameos—famous people who are supposed to be easily recognizable but are playing minor roles—come into the picture. With that in mind, here’s a guide to some of the greatest cameos.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”
This movie was pretty chock -full of terrific cameos (I mean, Kanye? Liam Neeson?), but these two were my favorite. Who doesn’t love every team- up they do?
Christopher Walken, “Pulp Fiction” and “Annie Hall”
Chris Walken is one of the most hilariously strange personalities in Hollywood, and these roles echo that strangeness. In “Pulp Fiction,” he tells a young Butch Coolidge about the, um, dubious way a watch made its way from Vietnam to their living room. In “Annie Hall,” he plays Annie’s creepy brother.
Bill Murray, “Zombieland”
Speaking of hilariously strange, Bill Murray. He’s got quite an obsessive fan base at this point, and roles like this remind you why. I’ve got to be honest, this cameo made me scream excitedly. What an unexpected and perfect role for this weirdest of movie dudes.
David Bowie, “Zoolander”
Who would be a better judge of a walk-off competition between Zoolander and Hansel than Ziggy himself, Aladdin Sane, the original glam rock king? This is a pretty crazy-random cameo, but no one cares. Because it’s Bowie. Plus, most of “Zoolander” is pretty random anyway.
Stan Lee, everything
Whether you love him or hate him (or you’re somewhere in between, like me), it’s always fun to look for the creative and varied cameos he’s made in just about every Marvel movie besides the X-Men films.
Among Stan Lee’s many entertainig appearance, my personal favorite is when he shows up “Iron Man 2”, and as Hugh Hefner, no less!
Cate Blanchett, “Hot Fuzz”
Wait, you didn’t catch that it was Cate Blanchett in that hazmat suit, breaking up with Sergeant Angel over the phone?
Johnny Depp, “21 Jump Street”
I never watched the show, but knowing it’s where Johnny Depp got his big break, I love that they put him in here, if only briefly at the end.
Tom Cruise, “Tropic Thunder”
The “Mission: Impossible” star plays a maniacal Hollywood bigwig, and the fatsuit, prosthetic hands, and bald cap make him basically unrecognizable.
Bob Barker, “Happy Gilmore”
I watched a lot of “The Price is Right” as a kid. When I saw “Happy Gilmore,” I thought Bob Barker’s cameo was the funniest part of the whole movie. I mean, he beats up Adam Sandler. And even though it was a bad word, I went around saying, “The price is wrong, bitch” for a long time.
Alfred Hitchcock, everything
Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t just a pioneering director, he was the original master of the onscreen cameo.
In fact, Hitchcock appears in almost every single film he directed (hey, 39 out of 52 ain’t bad). He typically appeared as just a passerby, missing a train or sitting at a table. His cameos became so popular he started to make them early in his films so as not to distract from the movie itself!
Leonard Nimoy, “Star Trek”
Umm, what a great idea to have the original Spock play an old, alternate universe Spock who meets young, hot Spock! Mind-blowing in the classic JJ Abrams fashion, this cameo is a match made in cameo heaven.
Charlie Sheen, “Being John Malkovich”
Not a big Sheen fan, but I love this movie, and his gross weirdness fit here. Seeing him in a tacky Hawaiian shirt and balding was seriously hilarious.
Channing Tatum and Anne Hathaway, “Don Jon”
I loved the fake romance film that ScarJo and JGL go see during the first date scene. The brilliant film-within-the-film stars these Tatum and Hathaway, and it’s seriously laugh out loud hilarious.
Hugh Jackman, “X-Men: First Class”
Out of many comic book movie cameos, this one just may take the cake. It’s Wolverine talking smack in a bar. Nuff said.