A career as an actor is no different than any other career, really. It’s all about networking, climbing up the ladder, getting exposure so as to enhance the possibilities of getting attention from the higher ups… So, with that being said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise why any actor would fight tooth and nail to promote themselves whenever humanly possible. They’ve chosen a career path that centers wholly around the necessity of hype, so of course they’ll claw at the chance to get top billing on a project. Otherwise, they run the risk of irrelevancy.
However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes — especially when an actor’s already cemented themselves firmly in the Hollywood zeitgeist — the need for publicity takes a backseat. They’ll attach themselves to a project just for the fun of it, aware of how significant their presence would be without so much as attaching their name to the film (even though their identities as a whole sometimes go completely unnoticed anyway).
It’s time to peel back the curtain to get an inside look at 15 Famous Actors Who Were Uncredited In Big Movies.
15. Cate Blanchett – Hot Fuzz
Cate Blanchett didn’t need to be in Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. She plays the girlfriend to Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), and even though she shows up for just a few minutes, her character does play a fairly integral role in Angel’s character journey. Had she not broken up with him and admitted to an affair, he might not have felt been as open to being transferred to another police department. Alas, such was the case. And in the middle of a crime scene, no less.
Blanchett’s only discernible feature is her voice (and her eyes, if you’re a true thespian junkie), but that’s what makes this uncredited cameo work as well as it does. She’s a two-time Academy Award winner. Taking this role wasn’t a result of necessity, but fun. She may as well have been offered the role and asked herself, “Well, why the hell not?”
14. Will Ferrell – Wedding Crashers
At this point in his career, Will Ferrell could easily ditch the credits in all of his films, and it wouldn’t make a difference one way or another. He’s Will Ferrell. If you’re a comedy fan and you see his face on a poster, chances are you’ll want to check it out.
That said, he’s also such a powerhouse in the world of comedy that were he to have his name attached to a movie in which he wasn’t the star, it’s safe to say that his star power might detract from the actual headliners themselves. So, being the cool dude that he is, Ferrell went ahead and remained MIA in the credits for Wedding Crashers, allowing Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn to have their own time to shine.
13. Jason Statham – Collateral
Most films have throwaway characters. Even if that isn’t the intention, a character played by a “nobody” (in terms of recognition) sometimes runs the risk of taking away some significance from a scene — or even the entire movie itself, depending on how much screen time they’re given. That’s why bypassing this is simple. Filmmakers just need to hire a more familiar face. Even if that familiar face hardly has a full minute of screen time, let alone any dialogue.
In Collateral, Jason Statham pretty much has one job: hand Tom Cruise a briefcase. That said, the audience remembers this because — whoa, what the hell, was that Jason Statham? It’s funny what just a little bit of recognizability can do. And considering the fact that his role was hardly anything to shake a fist at, Statham ultimately goes uncredited in this Michael Mann thriller.
12. Kurt Russell – Forrest Gump
Kurt Russell was in Forrest Gump. Now, before you start racking your brain trying to figure out which scene he was in (seeing as you’ve probably seen the movie well over a million times by now), it’s best to know right off the bat that he wasn’t physically in the movie. Only his voice was.
In 1979, Kurt Russell starred in the TV movie Elvis, and it’s safe to say that he became casually associated with the King. And if nothing else, he could easily pull off the voice. So, when Robert Zemeckis got working on the adaptation of Forrest Gump, he sought out the vocal talents of Russell — not for his singing, but for the brief scene Elvis Presley shows up in while staying at the Gump’s house, teaching young Forrest a thing or two about music, while young Forrest himself teaches Presley a thing or two about how to dance.
Russell goes uncredited in the film, but the voice you’re hearing is one that he crafted and perfected over a decade prior in a movie directed by John Carpenter (yes, that John Carpenter).
11. Rebecca Romijn – X-Men: First Class
Before the young’uns got involved with the franchise in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class, the characters belonged to a different slue of actors. These were the originals, you might say; Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, James Marsden as Cyclops, and of course, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique. But after three films, Romijn passed the torch to Jennifer Lawrence. For three films of her own, Lawrence has been rocking blue skin and red hair fairly solidly.
In her first go as the character, though, the filmmakers couldn’t help but nod at the original, having her morph into an older version of herself (as Romijn) for just a moment. It’s not necessarily a “blink and miss you it” moment, but Romijn still goes uncredited. Which made for a nice surprise upon initial viewings.
10. Sean Connery – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
When you’re James Bond, your face says it all (which might explain why his code name is just a set of numbers in the first place). But you don’t need to tell Sean Connery this twice. Retired or not, when you’re one of the few actors who’s rocked a Walther PPK while fighting off the likes of Goldfinger and Blofeld, you really don’t need an introduction.
So, when Connery shows up at the end of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, it means something. His screen time is sparse, but that’s irrelevant. He is King Richard the Lionheart. He is a rockstar. Whatever actor the filmmakers cast needed to feel important and impactful (much like the reasoning behind David Fincher casting Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker in The Social Network). Even if you don’t follow history, you’ll know right off the bat that he’s important.
9. Bridget Fonda – Easy Rider
Bridget Fonda’s acting career didn’t really take off until the ’90s, but her first time in front of a camera came in 1969. She shows up for a moment in Easy Rider, alongside her father, Peter, as a child in a commune. Though unsubstantial to the plot and more or less insignificant in terms of how she built her career, there is still something to be said of an actor’s first role being in a cult film as significant to cinemas as Easy Rider.
Bridget Fonda has since retired from acting, even though she was something of a staple in Hollywood, starring in films like Single White Female and A Simple Plan. These days, she’s enjoying married life alongside film composer Danny Elfman, but her family will always maintain celebrity royalty in the hills of La La Land.
8. Henry Winkler – Scream
Before the ’90s ever rolled around, Henry Winkler was the quintessential “cool teen.” He was the Fonz in Happy Days. He’s iconic. However, after showing up in Scream, not as one of the hip teenagers, but as the uptight high school principal, he decided that going uncredited was the best move to make. Not for himself, you see, but for the young up-and-comers who were looking for a shot at stardom.
As the story goes, Winkler was making a noble move in keeping his name off of the credits. Whether he was trying to be funny or not, Winkler insisted that had his name been on the credits, the younger actors might never get their time to shine. His mere presence might steal the spotlight from every other one of his cast mates, which he clearly didn’t find to be fair.
7. Daniel Craig – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, James Bond himself was a Stormtrooper?
In The Force Awakens, Rey finally begins to embrace her sensitivity to the Force when she finds herself face-to-face with one of the First Orders’ footmen. She’s being held prisoner and bound to mechanical shackles while a trooper stands guard. Keen to escape, Rey decides to test out some Force abilities that may or may not work, and to her luck, they do.
But this is already common knowledge. Everybody and their mothers saw The Force Awakens. What isn’t common knowledge is the fact that the Stormtrooper standing guard (who she ultimately ends up Jedi mindtricking) is none other than Daniel Craig (Skyfall, Logan Lucky). You won’t find him in the credits, but Craig was happy to have a go at the Star Wars universe — even though his identity is more undercover than an MI6 agent.
6. Glenn Close – Hook
Even though it was made for children, Steven Spielberg’s Hook is not exactly short on disturbing elements. One such element comes in the form of a scene between Captain Hook himself (as played by Dustin Hoffman) and one of the pirates on his crew. He has the man locked inside a crate the size of a casket, joined only by some poisonous scorpions. Only, the man wasn’t actually a man. Not off screen, at least. The pirate was actually played by Glenn Close.
Could the role have been played by a man? Sure. But in a world where fairies are real, people can fly, and young boys don’t grow up, is a woman portraying a man really all that odd? Especially when the woman happens to be someone on the level of Close? (Seriously, those screams are haunting.)
She’s clearly having a lot of fun in this scene (even though her character certainly isn’t), and it’s fun to watch one of Hollywood’s most talented actors simply losing themselves in a role that isn’t even credited to begin with.
5. Robert De Niro – American Hustle
To date, Robert De Niro has done three films with David O. Russell, but if you were to take a look at his credits, you’d only find two. That’s because between Silver Linings Playbook and Joy, he made a brief cameo in American Hustle. As a mobster, naturally.
Why this worked so well is because of De Niro’s career history. No stranger to the fictional mafia, it wouldn’t have come as much of a surprise — but would have been met with positive reactions — had audiences known that De Niro would be showing up in the film as real-life mobster, Vincent Alo (aka Jimmy Blue Eyes). That said, his character’s name was changed to Victor Tellegio, so if it was displaced hype that the filmmakers were worried about (as if Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, or Bradley Cooper need to ever worry about the attention not focusing on themselves), their concerns were unnecessary.
De Niro will be teaming up with Russell again in the near future — only this time, on television. He’ll likely be credited this time around.
4. Natalie Portman – The Darjeeling Limited
The Darjeeling Limited is about three brothers taking a spiritual journey through India. Each one of them is carrying with them their own share of baggage (both literally and figuratively), and a third of that baggage belongs to Jack (Jason Schwartzman), who can’t stop thinking about the woman he left behind; a woman who doesn’t show up until the final act.
The woman is played by Natalie Portman. And she doesn’t do much but lay in bed for the few seconds she’s on screen. However, unless you saw the film in theaters, you’ll have had to have sought out the short film that’s meant to precede the main attraction, a short called Hotel Chevalier. In it, audiences may not get a full explanation as to what exactly is happening between Jack and his ex-girlfriend, but it says enough. And at the very least, it fills the audience in on why her environment is so… yellow.
3. Jim Parsons – The Muppets
Though most audiences never truly fell out of love with The Muppets, their social stamp isn’t quite what it used to be. However, when Jason Segel pumped some life back into Jim Henson’s characters with a script balanced on equal parts nostalgia and humor that actually lands, the Muppets made their comeback.
A countless tirade of celebrities made cameos, including the likes of Mickey Rooney, Zach Galifianakis, Emily Blunt, and Neil Patrick Harris (just to name a few), but one of the more significant cameos came in the form of Jim Parsons, who plays the “human version” of Segel’s Muppet brother, Walter.
In an odd way, they actually share a slight likeness, which could very well be the reason he was cast. That, or the fact that Parsons was at the top of his Hollywood celebrity thanks to The Big Bang Theory at the time.
2. Gary Oldman – Hannibal
Gary Oldman is no stranger to disappearing into roles. Hell, his latest film, Darkest Hour, has him disappearing into the role of Winston Churchill himself. But it was in Ridley Scott’s Hannibal that he was his most unrecognizable. And his most disturbing.
Still, no matter how complex his role might have been, he kept his name far away from the credits. Why? Because it was more interesting that way. Seeing as he was already so used to playing “the man of many faces,” he thought that going nameless as a faceless person just seemed appropriate. Rumors have floated around the internet about him wanting top billing, but it’s all gossip. He was just having fun with the whole thing, because why not? He’s Gary Oldman.
1. Matt Damon – Interstellar
If you ask Jimmy Kimmel, then Matt Damon can’t afford to not promote himself. You know, because he’s so damn hateable.
In the real world, though, Damon is obviously a force to be reckoned with. He has some misses under his belt (The Great Wall comes to mind, especially), but for the most part, he is Hollywood royalty. Which is exactly why tacking his name onto a film will definitely draw attention — if not draw attention away from his co-stars. So, in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, Damon’s identity was kept a secret.
Once he finally shows up in the final act of the movie, the audience is blindsided. Literally no one could have seen this “twist” coming, and that’s exactly why it manages to be so effective. Star power isn’t exactly what it used to be in Hollywood, but when filmmakers are clever with the way they showcase their stars, then they stand a chance at surprising audiences as well as Nolan surprised audiences during Interstellar’s big reveal.
It also helps that “nice guy” Matt Damon turns out to sort of be the film’s “villain.” Who could have ever seen that coming?
Know of any other uncredited cameos that should have made the list? Let us know in the comments!
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