Celebrity cameos are common in both movies and television shows – and have been for some time. Some cameos elevate the movie, but even more fall flat. Cameos are most effective in comedy films, where immersion in the story isn’t as important. Having a celebrity come in to play themselves works in comedy where it doesn’t in drama, but filmmakers are still trying to inject celebrities anywhere they can.
The main concern with celebrity cameos is immersion. As stated above, comedies aren’t as reliant on immersion as action and drama pieces. Dramas that include celebrity cameos often suffer from the audience’s lack of immersion. It’s hard to get yourself to believe that these characters matter when you see your favorite pop singer in the shot.
Ed Sheeran got internet-crucified for this exact reason. Sometimes a celebrity cameo can convey that the studio wanted a celebrity in the scene. Sometimes it seems as though entire scenes were written for the sole purpose of including a celebrity cameo – as many people accused Game of Thrones of doing.
Ahead are the most inappropriate celebrity cameos that made us laugh, cringe, and shake our heads. Some of them worked for shock-value and comedic effect, while other were held accountable for ruining entire episodes of the shows in which they were featured.
Here are 15 Most INAPPRORIATE Celebrity Cameos, Ranked.
15. Mike Tyson – The Hangover
Mike Tyson is a legendary boxer and an interesting man with a laundry list of bizarre stories. His one-man show on HBO is surprisingly engaging and his cartoon on Adult Swim is actually pretty funny. It would seem as though Mike Tyson’s wheelhouse is voice acting, however, because his appearance in The Hangover was rough.
The appearance of Mike Tyson was meant to be random and unexpected, but the trailers had already told us he was going to punch Alan in the face. All that was left after that was for Tyson to become friendly with the crew, but when he had to speak his acting was cringe-inducing.
14. Channing Tatum – This is the End
Just because a cameo is inappropriate doesn’t mean it has to be bad. This is the End was a hilarious movie that was jam-packed with cameos from the very beginning. No one is going to forget Michael Cera stealing the first act of the show with his bizarre characterization.
The best cameo in the film has to go to Channing Tatum for the pure random factor. When Danny McBride showed off his gimp, no one expected to see Channing Tatum under the mask. This was one of the more bizarre cameos on the list but it worked to perfection.
Tatum showed the ability to make fun of the extreme version of himself, which inherently endears him to most of the audience. Sometimes an inappropriate cameo can elicit the exact response a director is looking for.
13. Michael Jackson – Men in Black 2
Many fans consider Men in Black 2 to be the worst film in the series. It came along at a time when CGI was in a weird spot. Johnny Knoxville’s character was completely reliant on CGI, but the whole thing looked as fake as it possibly could. This is especially evident when watching the movie today.
The first Men in Black movie was great, and many people thought that the studio was pushing its luck by releasing a second. The original installment introduced the idea of aliens hiding in plain sight.
A Michael Jackson cameo may have made sense on paper, but it wasn’t as appropriate as we may have hoped. This addition seemed like pandering to the audience – a decent idea that didn’t work in practice.
12. Tommy Lee Jones – Japanese Commercials
Commercials are an easy way for actors to make some extra cash, but it can be looked down upon for actors of a certain caliber. It’s a catch 22, but many American actors like Tommy Lee Jones have found a loophole.
This loophole is going to Asia – specifically Japan. It’s not out of the ordinary for superstars to be shown peddling coffee in Japanese advertisements. Fans don’t think any less of actors for getting their side hustle on over there.
It’s still incredibly jarring for us to see an American actor in one of these low-production commercials, especially when they’re singing a song that we don’t understand. Tommy Lee Jones has made a few Japanese commercials, but none got as much play in the states as his infamous singing appearance.
11. The Jersey Shore Cast – Three Stooges
The remake of the Three Stooges was never expected to be high-brow comedy. Many who loved the original show enjoyed the modern take on that brand of comedy, but nobody was expecting an Academy Award nominated performance.
In a movie full of sound effects and random humor, the inclusion of the Jersey Shore cast is head-scratching. The movie released in 2012, which means it was being made during the height of the Jersey Shore’s popularity. Unfortunately, 2012 marked the end of the show as it faded into obscurity.
Adding the Jersey Shore cast served as an, “Oh look who it is!” but nothing more. They added no substance to the movie, as they were all virtually dummies for Moe to whack. On top of that, there’s no way we can believe that the notoriously hot-headed Jersey Shore cast would stand there as someone slaps them around.
10. M. Night Shyamalan – Signs
M. Night Shaymalan is one of those directors who likes to have a cameo in all of his movies. Most of his roles are small, including the one in Signs, but when they challenge his acting range they usually fall flat.
Shaymalan’s career has been a mixed bag. He started with a bang (The Sixth Sense) and gradually declined until he became a punch line, only to experience a career revival recently. His role in Signs was small but significant, as he was the one who set the plot in motion by killing Mel Gibson’s wife in a car accident.
The scene that involves Shyamalan was emotional, but Shyamalan showed no emotion. He apologized to Gibson for accidentally killing his wife. Gibson cried but Shyamalan’s face was stone. His dead-eyed look showed either his character’s inner serial killer or his terrible acting – the jury is still out.
9. Bill Murray – Zombieland
Zombieland was an unexpected hit when it was released in 2009. Not many people expected a comedy about a zombie apocalypse to have so much heart, but it did.
One of the biggest surprises in the movie was the inclusion of Bill Murray. Murray plays himself in the exact way we think he would in a zombie apocalypse. He dresses like a zombie to get errands done and none of them bother him.
The surprise of seeing Bill Murray in Zombieland was only surpassed by his subsequent death. When Murray tries to scare Columbus by pretending he’s a zombie, Columbus acts how anyone would in that situation: shoot first and ask questions later.
8. Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained
Like M. Night Shyamalan, Quentin Tarantino is famous for planting himself in his own films. Most of his cameos are innocuous and serve as an Easter egg for the viewer. His role in Django Unchained wasn’t unexpected, but it came with a cringe-worthy twist.
For some reason, Tarantino wanted to try an Australian accent for this role. Other than the inclusion of random world travelers, it doesn’t make any sense to have these slavers originating in Australia.
Django Unchained is an excellent film, like the majority of Tarantino films. The movie immerses the viewer in the world Tarantino created, right up until his goofy Australian accent unintentionally breaks the fourth wall. It wasn’t necessarily Tarantino that was inappropriate in this case; just his terrible attempt at an Australian accent.
7. Alanis Morissette – Dogma
Isn’t it ironic that Alanis Morisette played God in Dogma? Probably not, but neither was anything in her song about irony.
Alanis Morissette’s inclusion in the Jay and Silent Bob movie was pretty strange. It seems like the filmmakers thought she would fit the role perfectly – possibly because of the “voice of God” bit – but it came out of the clouds.
This cameo was random, but not the good kind of random like Bill Murray in Zombieland or Channing Tatum in This is the End. Alanis Morissette’s role as God could easily go unnoticed for those who aren’t familiar with the appearance of the singer. It wasn’t clever enough to make for a good joke and it wasn’t obvious enough to be a satisfactory reveal.
6. Richard Branson – Casino Royale
Richard Branson’s brief appearance in Casino Royale was such a tiny cameo it could be considered an Easter egg. If you blinked during the scene you probably missed him, but if you’re looking you’ll be able to spot his iconic hair getting stopped at an airport metal detector.
Branson reportedly landed this brief appearance by providing a plane in a time of need. Fortunately for fans of the James Bond franchise, the writers didn’t make Branson a feature character of some sort.
No one is really angry that Branson popped-up in the movie, but it was extremely random. Not many people had a response other than, “Is that Richard Branson?” Why include such a recognizable face if he isn’t going to mean anything? He might have purchased his way onscreen, but that doesn’t mean he belonged there.
5. Simon Cowell – Scary Movie 3
The Scary Movie franchise was never very smart, but it worked for the demographic to which it catered. It thrived on cheap laughs and sight gags for the most part, but the schtick ran thin pretty quickly. We can thank the movies for helping to launch the careers of people like Kevin Hart and Anna Faris, but they aren’t going to stand the test of time.
Part of the reason these films are stuck in the era in which they were made is because of their reliance on cameo support. All of the films have some sort of cameo appearance, and many of them only serve as a, “Hey, that’s [insert celebrity here]” and nothing more.
The same is true with Simon Cowell. The premise of his inclusion is that he’s judging a rap battle (spoofing 8 Mile), but gets shot when the rappers don’t like his criticism. It’s as if the filmmakers checked who was available for a cameo and wrote scenes around them instead of letting it happen organically.
4. Edward Norton – The Invention of Lying
Ricky Gervais seems to have a stable of celebrities who are willing to make cameo appearances in his films, as witnessed in The Invention of Lying. The exposition of this film includes multiple cameos, including Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Louis CK, and the subject of this entry: Edward Norton.
Edward Norton plays a police officer who pulls over Louis CK for drunk driving. Unlike most of the entries on this list, Norton’s works because of how random and inappropriate it seemed.
Even though Norton hasn’t been the leading man in a while, we tend to still think of him as an A-list celebrity. That’s why it’s weird to see him in a one-off role as a police officer with a Boston accent and fake mustache.
3. Matt Damon – EuroTrip
EuroTrip is the perfect embodiment of the early-2000’s “Teen Movie” phenomenon that was short-lived but iconic. Movies like American Pie blazed the path for these raunchy coming-of-age flicks, and EuroTrip was made on the tail-end of that phase.
EruoTrip was good for a fun movie to watch, but like many movies in the genre it didn’t stand the test of time.
Matt Damon’s appearance as a punk band’s front man and Scotty’s romantic rival is extremely random for such a successful actor. Many people wondered what he was doing with a shaved head, singing the surprisingly catchy “Scotty Doesn’t Know”.
Damon actually went to college with the writers of EuroTrip, which explains his appearance in the show. This wasn’t revealed to viewers until a Damon’s Reddit AMA, which meant that those who went to see EuroTrip were scratching their heads during this scene. It wasn’t a bad performance; just extremely random to see Matt Damon like this.
2. Madonna – Die Another Day
Madonna’s role in Die Another Day isn’t the worst cameo on this list, but it’s one of the stranger choices. She’s so recognizable that it’s hard to see the character instead of Madonna herself. Like the infamous cameo ahead, Madonna’s inclusion served to break immersion more than anything positive she did onscreen.
The problem that many people have with these type of cameos is that it takes them out of the story. We all know who Madonna is, so seeing her play a character (essentially herself as a fencing coach) is hard to believe.
Madonna did the theme song for Die Another Day, which is probably how she got a cameo. Her scene is littered with sexual undertones – as should be expected if James Bond and Madonna got into the same room. In the end, it wasn’t a bad performance but it may have been better without her.
1. Ed Sheeran – Game of Thrones
Ed Sheeran’s appearance in this season’s premier of Game of Thrones was the inappropriate celebrity cameo heard ’round the world. The cameo was so hated that it reportedly led Sheeran to delete his Twitter after all of the backlash.
Part of the outrage surrounding Sheeran’s inclusion was the scene itself. For a show that’s trying to speed through content to fit it all in one last season, this scene served little purpose. It showed Arya and the audience that not all Lannister soldiers are evil, but other than that it seemed like a shameless attempt to insert a celebrity cameo into everyone’s favorite TV series.
Most people were angry about Sheeran’s appearance breaking immersion. The viewer is invested in the story until they see Ed Sheeran’s goofy singing on a log. Nearly every celebrity on the face of the Earth watches Game of Thrones and would love to have a cameo, but that doesn’t mean they should. Hopefully the show-runners learned their lesson with the negative feedback on this one.
Which other celebrity cameos were just inappropriate? Let us know in the comments!
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