Numerous production delays, as well as uninspiring story details, left a lot of film fans groaning at the prospect of Men in Black 3. However, following the release of the full Men in Black 3 trailer that, among other encouraging elements, features a spot-on Tommy Lee Jones impression from Josh Brolin, audiences and industry insiders alike began to wonder if director Barry Sonnenfeld might actually be able to pull an entertaining sci-fi adventure out of the seemingly troubled production.
While story, and the buddy-cop chemistry between Smith and Jones (as well as Smith and Brolin this round) will certainly play a large part in the success of the film, odd-ball celebrity cameos are another fan-favorite aspect of prior entries that the team will have to get right in part three. As a result, which familiar faces have the filmmakers included as aliens masquerading in human flesh for Men in Black 3?
Men in Black as well as Men in Black 2 both featured some pretty enjoyable celebrity cameos - which are actually performed by the respective celebrities, not impersonators, whenever possible. While some "aliens" were only mentioned by name, such as Elvis, Danny Devito and Newt Gingrich, Sonnenfeld was able to secure appearances by a few others for actual interaction in the film, such as Agent M (Michael Jackson).
The time travel element of Men in Black 3 will no doubt present audiences with a fresh batch of 1960's weirdos (who will, in most cases, be played by actors) but the film will also feature a number of modern day celebrity cameos as well. We've made mention of one of the celebrities in prior Men in Black 3 coverage, as well as speculated about the inclusion of another but, in a recent interview with Collider, Sonnenfeld was surprisingly candid about which a-listers he was able to work into the project.
It goes without saying that the following quote contains SPOILERS for a few of the cameo jokes in Men in Black 3. If you don't want to be spoiled, look away now.
I can’t remember who we had in the second one, but in this one there are a few people that you’ll see up on the surveillance board including Lady Gaga, Tim Burton, who probably knows more about aliens then I do, and let’s see who else . . . Justin Bieber.
While it's unclear at this point whether we'll get to see any of the actors interact with J and K - or simply appear in images or video on the surveillance screen - it's hard to imagine asking for a stranger group of celebrities to include. In the original Men in Black, Sonnenfeld solicited suggestions from the crew - resulting in hundreds of would-be aliens, which the director then narrowed down to a handful. Unlike a lot of films, which try to force-in pop culture references for big laughs, often at the expense of long-term relatability for the film (we're looking at you Three Stooges), the director maintains that the celebrity aliens are a tricky balance:
You know we don’t like to use that weapon too often. The hard part is really figuring out the combination of who won’t be “who’s that person” in 10 years. But so far we’ve been pretty luck and people have been kind and interested. I am surprised that Lady Gaga said yes [...] The challenge is getting celebrities that are famous, will give you permission and won’t be like, “Who’s that guy?” in ten years. So that’s one thing, the alien surveillance board that we’ve had in all three movies.
Sonnenfeld's success with the recurring celebrity cameo gag is, no doubt, a testament to the restraint the team has shown in previous entries (i.e. not including the cast of Jersey Shore) - an approach he appears to be continuing with the third installment. That said, we'll be interested to see who else the director managed to include (but wasn't ready to share at this point). Make sure to share your choices in the comments.
In the meantime, check out these new Men in Black 3 photos (which feature a look at young K, played by Josh Brolin, some slick alien tech, as well as J moments before time traveling to 1969, among other shots).
You can also head over to Collider for the full Sonnenfeld interview - where he discusses 3D, modern filmmaking, and more.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on Men in Black 3 as well as other movie, TV, and gaming news.
Men in Black 3 hits 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D theaters around the U.S. on May 25th, 2012.