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25 best movie cameos ever

From Alfred Hitchcock to Arnie, these are the best blink-and-you'll-miss-em appearances by famous faces in the flicks


The Expendables – Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis (2010)

Arnie put his role as Governor of California on hold for a brief moment for this highly anticipated, albeit brief cameo alongside fellow 80s action movie icons Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. While hardcore fans found it hard to contain their excitement over Arnold “get to the chopper” Schwarzenegger’s appearance, protestors marred the star-studded premiere, brandishing signs saying things like “State workers are not Expendable,” in light of the redundancies in his bankrupt state of California. Oh dear. The film was a bit of a let-down, too.

Zoolander – David Bowie (2001)

Who better to judge a Walk-off between a pair of male models than the Thin White Duke himself? While there were many A-List cameo appearances, the highlight had to be Bowie swooping in from nowhere, emerging from the crowd to make sure Derek Zoolander and Hansel’s battle of faces and underwear removal is one fought clean and fair. Who else would they trust with such an important role? Word on the web is Ben Stiller’s male model is primed for a return. Let’s hope Bowie can be persuaded to come back, too.

Shaun of the Dead – Jessica Hynes (2004)


As Shaun and his gang stumble through alleyways and back streets wielding make-shift weapons while on their way to the Winchester, they bump into Simon Pegg’s old Spaced mucker Jessica Hynes (née Stevenson). It turns out her party of better-armed, better-equipped survivors exactly mirrors Shaun’s gang – and they’re played by a roll-call of British comedy talent from the likes of The League of Gentlemen and Little Britain. Fair to say this in-jokey rom-zom scene was only really be appreciated by British comedy fans, otherwise it was just a case of “who are they?”

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The Hangover – Mike Tyson (2009)


Iron Mike’s tiger-loving cameo definitely appeared to be one of the highlights when the trailer was being bandied about. When we got to see the film in its entirety, Tyson proved that some cameos should indeed be muted roles – although punching Zach Galifianakis was particularly brilliant. In his defense, he was probably high on some kind of narcotic after admitting on an ESPN radio show that he only signed up for the film to finance his drug habit! Why they bothered to recast him in part II will forever remain a mystery.

Tropic Thunder – Tom Cruise (2008)


We’re used to seeing Tom Cruise do stupidly crazy things – everyone remember his appearance on the Oprah show? But this was something else again – here’s Tom in a bald cap and a fat suit, dancing like a rhythmically challenged old man. Not only did we get to see Cruise like we’ve never seen him before, but his memorable role as vulgar, corpulent studio boss Les Grossman is actually pretty hilarious. So much so that there’s talk of a whole film featuring the character. A few minutes in his company was, we feel, more than enough.

The Dead Pool – Guns N’ Roses (1988)

Yup, in the space of five minutes, the final Dirty Harry film features Jim Carrey prancing around miming to Welcome to the Jungle followed by Clint Eastwood, Liam Neeson and 80s rockers Guns N’ Roses sharing a scene. And that’s the least bizarre thing in a film where Dirty Harry has a car chase in which he’s menaced by an explosive remote controlled car.

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Annie Hall – Marshall McLuhan (1977)

Ever been stuck in a queue next to someone who won’t stop pontificating on a subject they know nothing about? Woody Allen feels your pain. So in this scene, Allen wheels out noted academic Marshall McLuhan to decisively shut down a bumptious university professor. “You know nothing of my work. How you got to teach a course in anything is amazing,” says McLuhan, delivering the greatest academic smackdown in film history.

Any of 39 Alfred Hitchcock films – Alfred Hitchcock (1927 – 1976)


Hitchcock’s cameos are infamous – and the director actually had to start putting them earlier in his films so that audiences would concentrate on the plot rather than looking out for his distinctive portly frame. Probably his best-known cameo is his appearance with two small dogs in The Birds – though other films required him to be more inventive. In Lifeboat – set entirely aboard a, er, lifeboat – he appears in a newspaper advert for a fictional weight-loss drug.

Silent Movie – Marcel Marceau (1976)

Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie is – famously – entirely silent. Apart from one word. Asked to participate in the first silent movie in 40 years, infamous mime Marcel Marceau barks out “Non!” Audiences jumped out of their seats.

Terminator Salvation – Arnold Schwarzenegger (2009)

The only cameo on the list for which the star didn’t actually turn up to film his appearance, this memorable scene featured bodybuilder Roland Kickinger doubling for the Austrian Oak’s body while a face cast taken for Arnie’s role in the original Terminator was scanned to provide his features. The result dips into the uncanny valley a bit, but frankly you can get away with that if the character’s meant to be a killer robot. And it points towards an intriguing future in which Arnie could keep on playing his younger self in future films.

Wayne’s World – Robert Patrick and Alice Cooper (1992)

Robert Patrick still haunts our nightmares after playing the lethal liquid-metal T-1000 in Terminator 2. So when Wayne is pulled over by the very same horror and asked, “Have you seen this boy?” his reaction is exactly what ours would have been. But since we’re safe behind a TV, it’s just funny. Alice Cooper also made a memorable appearance in the below clip – we are indeed not worthy.

Mallrats – Stan Lee (1995)

Stan Lee may be the king of cameos, with appearances in pretty much every Marvel Studios film, but his appearance in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats is his crowning moment of awesome. Here, the king of Marvel and co-creator of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, the Hulk and more, gives pearls of wisdom to a young Jason Lee. Still one of Kevin Smith’s coolest films, in which comics are praised and geeks are Gods.

Spider-Man 3 – Bruce Campbell (2007)

Bruce Campbell was finest in Evil Dead 2 when he had a chainsaw for an arm, but that hasn’t stopped him being funny. Campbell and his mighty chin crop up in all of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, but he saved the best cameo appearance for last, appearing as a snooty maître d’ in what was easily the funniest part of the film. A whistle, just to summon a flunkey with a pen? Genius. Pronouncing Parker as pecker – less genius, granted, but equally funny.

X-Men: First Class – Hugh Jackman (2011)


X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn clearly couldn’t resist the temptation to pop Marvel’s most famous mutant into the scene in which Charles Xavier and Magneto go on a recruitment drive for their Academy. And we’re happy temptation got the better of him. This cameo’s short and to the point – like Wolverine himself.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story – Lance Armstrong (2004)

The inevitable pep talk – that all sports-related films require – is best served up from a sports professional. What better choice than cancer-beating super cyclist Lance Armstrong? Sure his acting game isn’t so strong, but you’ve got to respect him for trying.

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Zombieland – Bill Murray (2009)

So the world has been taken over by zombies and you’re an awkward student (Jesse Eisenberg) just trying not to get killed before you see your family again. And you stumble on your comedy hero’s house – well, of course you’d look inside. We’re not going to spoil the outcome of this encounter, but it’s a killer.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson (1998)


“There I was… Mother of god, there I am.” Johnny Depp’s Raoul Duke has some typically paranoid thoughts, meandering through a flashback to San Francisco club The Matrix. He bumps into the real Hunter S.Thompson in the cameo that Gonzo fans went nuts over. The pre-firework Thompson fought off stiff competition from Gary Busey, Tobey Maguire and director Terry Gilliam in a pretty cameo-friendly film.

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Wayne’s World 2 – Charlton Heston (1993)

We’re with Wayne on this one – no part in a film is too small and if you can convince Charlton Heston to play an actor acting as a gas station attendant (excuse our American) then we salute you. That biblical voice practically steals the film with his story of some girl he used to know on Gordon Street. Put it this way, Wayne won’t be the only one who’s not ashamed to cry.

Airplane II: The Sequel – William Shatner (1982)


The Shat plays Cmdr. Buck Murdock who loses his temper at the very same blinking and flashing machine seen in Star Trek’s Regula Space Station when he tries to guide Striker to a safe Moon landing. If you like a cheeky visual gag, you’ll also love Murdock’s deadly serious face as he steps out from behind the “video screen.”

Austin Powers in Goldmember – Too many to mention (2002)

Technically, the star-studded film we’re talking about here is Austinpussy, not Austin Powers. Goldmember kicks off with a film-within-a-film starring Hollywood’s highest paid faces in the roles of Austin Powers, Dixie Normous, Dr. Evil, Mini-Me, Goldmember and Austinpussy’s director. There was no way that Goldmember itself could live up to this opening sequence, which we see is scored by Quincy Jones – and to be honest it didn’t.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – Keith Richards (2007)

Johnny Depp famously based his performance as Captain Jack Sparrow on Keith Richards – so when it came time for Jack’s dad to turn up, who better to play him than the Rolling Stone himself? The most impressive aspect of Keef’s role as Captain Teague Sparrow wasn’t his dominating presence, strong command over the rowdy pirate rabble, or his ability to brandish a pistol. It was the fact that not a single ounce of makeup had to be used to create the authentically-ravaged face of a man who has seen it all, done it all, and lived to tell the tale. With a dad like that, it’s no wonder Jack turned out to be such a mischievous rum-downing rascal.

Hot Shots! Part Deux – Martin Sheen (1993)


Both father and son break the fourth wall in this second instalment in the slapstick-fuelled Hot Shots series. As Charlie monologues his way up the river, he encounters his dad in full Apocalypse Now getup. “I loved you in Wall Street,” they say in unison. In retrospect, the father-son moment is rather touching, in the light of Charlie’s latterday Adonis-blood-fueled lunacy.

Maverick – Danny Glover (1994)

Mel Gibson reunites with his Lethal Weapon co-star Glover in this brilliantly well executed hark back to the glory days of the Lethal Weapon movies – complete with soundtrack cues and looks of confused recognition on both actors’ faces. Glover’s classic catchphrase at the end is the icing on the cake.

Iron Man – Samuel L Jackson (2008)


Artist Bryan Hitch had modelled his depiction of Nick Fury, director of SHIELD on Samuel L Jackson in his comic book The Ultimates – so when it came time to realise the character on screen, who better to call than Jackson himself? This 30 second post-credits cameo was more than enough for Jackson to stamp his mark on the character, and drive the fans wild – setting up the shared Marvel cinematic universe that’ll reach its apogee in 2012’s The Avengers.

Sleep With Me – Quentin Tarantino (1994)


The ever-zany Tarantino manages to successfully challenge and change our views on Top Gun in his animated analysis of the film during an alcohol fuelled house party conversation. We have to say, after listening to his point of view, we can’t really knock down his theory too much as it all seems to click in place. Although the volleyball scene should have been a dead giveaway.

Profile image of Dan Grabham Dan Grabham Editor-in-Chief


Dan is Editor-in-chief of Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website.  Our Editor-in-Chief is a regular at tech shows such as CES in Las Vegas, IFA in Berlin and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as well as at other launches and events. He has been a CES Innovation Awards judge. Dan is completely platform agnostic and very at home using and writing about Windows, macOS, Android and iOS/iPadOS plus lots and lots of gadgets including audio and smart home gear, laptops and smartphones. He's also been interviewed and quoted in a wide variety of places including The Sun, BBC World Service, BBC News Online, BBC Radio 5Live, BBC Radio 4, Sky News Radio and BBC Local Radio.

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Computing, mobile, audio, smart home