Cameo appearance

Cameo appearance

A cameo role or cameo appearance (often shortened to just cameo) is a brief appearance of a known person in a work of the performing arts, such as plays, films, video games [Michael Donahue, "Forced Guests: Cameos that make us sceam 'Yessss!'" in "Electronic Gaming Monthly" 226 (March 2008): 34.] and television. Such a role need not be filled by an actor: short appearances by film directors, politicians, athletes, musicians, and other celebrities are common. These roles are generally small, and most of them non-speaking. The director Alfred Hitchcock enjoyed inserting himself, often as a passive by-stander, in scenes of his films.

Other criteria for cameos include video game characters from another fictional universe appearing in another video game.


Originally the phrase "cameo role" referred to a famous person who was playing no character but him or herself. Like a cameo brooch — a low-relief carving of a person's head or bust — the actor or celebrity is instantly recognisable. More recently "cameo" has come to refer to any short appearances, whether as a character or as oneself.

Cameos are often noncredited due to their shortness or because of a perceived mismatch between the celebrity's stature and the film or TV show in which he or she is appearing. Many are publicity stunts. Others are acknowledgments of an actor's contribution to an earlier work, as in the case of many film adaptations of TV series, or of remakes of earlier films. Others honour artists or celebrities known for work in a particular field.

A cameo can establish a character as being important without having much screen time. Examples of such cameos are Sean Connery in "" or Ted Danson in "Saving Private Ryan".

Cameos are also common in novels and other literary works. “Literary cameos” usually involve an established character from another work who makes a brief appearance in order to establish a shared universe setting, to make a point, or to offer homage. Balzac was an originator of this practice in his "Comedie humaine". Sometimes a cameo features a historical person who "drops in" on fictional characters in a historical novel, as when Benjamin Franklin shares a beer with Phillipe Charboneau in "The Bastard" by John Jakes. A cameo appearance can also be made by the author of a work in order to put a sort of personal "signature" on a story. An example from the thriller genre includes Clive Cussler, who made appearances in his own novels as a "rough old man" who advised action hero Dirk Pitt. An example in the comic book genre is John Byrne's resplendent use of cameos in Marvel Comics’ "Iron Fist" #8, which features appearances by Byrne himself, Howard the Duck (on a poster), Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, Sam McCloud, Fu Manchu, and Wolverine.

At the apex of the technique stands "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov. This acclaimed novel is, among many other things, a "tour de force" of literary cameos.

Early appearances are often mistakenly considered as cameos. Sylvester Stallone appears uncredited in Woody Allen's Bananas credited as "Subway Thug #1", five years before his breakout role in 1976's Rocky, therefore making it an early appearance of a non-established actor (unlike his appearance in Staying Alive after having been established with three Rocky films and one Rambo film).

Examples of cameos

Mike Todd's film "Around the World in Eighty Days" (1956) was filled with cameo roles: (John Gielgud as an English butler, Frank Sinatra playing piano in a saloon), and others; the stars in cameo roles were pictured in oval insets in posters for the film, and gave the term wide circulation outside the theatrical profession. Notably the 1983 television adaptation and 2004 film version of the story also feature a large number of cameos.

"It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963), an "epic comedy", also features cameos from nearly every popular American comedian alive at the time, including the Three Stooges.

Marshall McLuhan has a cameo appearance in "Annie Hall" (1977), Woody Allen's Academy Award-winning romantic comedy.

Directors often appear in cameo roles to add a personal "signature" on a film. The cameo appearances of Alfred Hitchcock in 37 of his films helped popularise the term among general audiences. Often whimsical, the cameos became so well publicised that audiences began watching for them. Hitchcock began placing the cameos early in each film so audiences could then give their full attention to the story. Director Sam Raimi has followed Hitchcock's example in many of his films, as well as providing cameo roles for his brother Ted Raimi and friend Bruce Campbell. CSI creator Anthony Zuiker has appeared in several cameos throughout his hugely popular primetime television show.

Other directors are also known for casting themselves in cameo roles in their films. M. Night Shyamalan appears in some of his movies, such as "The Village", in which he is shown in the glass reflection of the sheriff (who is only otherwise filmed from behind, hiding his face), and also as a shady fan Bruce Willis searches at a stadium in "Unbreakable". In "The Sixth Sense" he is shown to be the doctor at the hospital and has a brief appearance in a short scene with the child's mother. In "Signs" he is the vet Ray Reddy, who is involved in the accident that took Graham's wife's life.

Likewise, Peter Jackson has made brief cameos in all of his movies except for his first movie "Bad Taste" and the puppet movie "Meet the Feebles". For example, he plays a peasant eating a carrot in '; a Rohan warrior in ' and a pirate boatswain in "". All three were non-speaking "blink and you miss him" appearances. He also appears in his 2005 remake of "King Kong" as the gunner on a biplane in the finale.

Director Martin Scorsese appears in the background of his films as a bystander or an unseen character. In "Who's That Knocking at My Door", he appears as one of the gangsters, a pedestrian in "Taxi Driver", etc. He opens up his 1986 film "The Color of Money" with a monologue on the art of playing pool. In addition, he appears with his wife and daughter as wealthy New Yorkers in "Gangs of New York", and he appears as a theatre-goer and is heard as a movie projectionist in "The Aviator".

In the film version of Hunter S Thompson's book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starring Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke, Hunter S Thompson's alter-ego, Thompson can be seen quickly as an older version of Depp's character in a flashback scene at a San Francisco nightclub.

Actors Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider have appeared in cameo roles in most of each other's comedy movies ("The Water Boy", "Mr. Deeds", "The Animal" etc.). They usually contribute one line of dialogue or just a funny expression. Schneider's famous cameo line has been the poor man saying "You can do it!" in three of Sandler's films.

Remakes and sequels occasionally feature actors from the original films. The 2004 version of "Dawn of the Dead" features cameos by Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger and Tom Savini, stars of the original "Dawn of the Dead". The original stars of Starsky and Hutch appeared at the end of the 2004 film, and Bernie Kopell, who portrayed Siegfried in the original show appeared in the 2008 film version of Get Smart. Vin Diesel made a short appearance at the end of "" where he challenges to race Shawn, Lucas Black, the then Drift king.

Films based on actual events occasionally include cameo roles of the people portrayed in them. In the 2006 film "The Pursuit of Happyness", Chris Gardner makes a cameo in the end. 24 Hour Party People, a film about Tony Wilson has a cameo by the real Tony Wilson. In the film "Apollo 13", James Lovell (the real commander of that flight) appeared at the end, shaking hands with Tom Hanks (the actor who was portraying Lovell). Domino Harvey makes a short appearance in the credits of Domino. The real Erin Brockovich has a cameo appearance as a waitress named Julia in the movie named after herself (where her role is played by actress Julia Roberts). The 2000 film " Almost Famous" featured "Rolling Stone" co-founder Jann Wenner as a passenger in a New York City taxicab.

In a similar vein, cameos sometimes feature persons noted for accomplishments outside the film industry, usually in ways related to the subject or setting of the film. "October Sky" (1999), set in 1950s Appalachia, featured photographer O. Winston Link in a brief appearance portraying a steam locomotive engineer. Link became famous in the 1950s for chronicling the last days of regular steam locomotives service in the region. 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' (2000), set in Depression-era rural South, featured cameos by country "roots" music notables such as Alison Krauss, Ralph Stanley, Gillian Welch, The Whites and the Fairfield Four. In the film The Last Mimzy, noted string theorist Brian Greene has a cameo as the Intel scientist. In Dr. Dolittle 2 a cameo appearance was made by Steve Irwin. Stan Lee, the creator of many Marvel Comics characters has appeared in the film versions of the comics, including X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and The Fantastic Four.

Cameos have been used as a way of returning to the spotlight in a subtle way as shown by Britney Spears when she made a cameo appearance on Will and Grace in 2006 and How I Met Your Mother in 2008.

NiGHTS has made a dramatic number of cameos in the Sonic the Hedgehog (character) series.

Author Terry Pratchett has appeared in two Sky1 film adaptations of his Discworld novels, The Hogfather and The Colour of Magic. He appears at the end of The Hogfather as the Toymaker and in opening and closing sequences of The Colour of Magic credited as Astrozoologist #2. Director of Sky1 Richard Woolfe also appears in The Colour of Magic as the Alchemist.

The Japanese manga series "Tsubasa Chronicle" contains various cameos from various Clamp series, including "Cardcaptor Sakura", "RG Veda" and "×××HOLiC". Noticeable names and faces showing up including Miyuki of "Miyuki-chan in Wonderland" who appears in almost all the major worlds the group visits usually with a piece of toast in her mouth or another bread product.

In "Iron Man", Samuel L. Jackson tells Tony Stark about the "Avenger Initiative". At the end of "The Incredible Hulk", Robert Downey Jr. makes an appearance as Tony Stark, asking General Ross if Bruce wants to join the Avengers too.

In "Run, Fat Boy, Run" Director David Schwimmer can be seen making an appearance as a fan on the race route towards the end of the film. Wearing a black hat and coat, David gives Simon Pegg's character a half pint of ale.


ee also

* Bit part
* Extra
* Self-insertion
* List of Hitchcock cameo appearances
* List of directors who appear in their own films
* Crossover fiction

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