Most of the time, movie cameos are a fun way to put familiar faces in front of audiences -- even if it’s only for a moment or two. Usually, the whole point of a cameo is that we’ll recognize the famous person in front of us. But sometimes, directors get a bit sneaky. They hide famous faces behind masks, make-up and CGI, and sometimes they just put them in roles you wouldn’t expect. And yeah, sure, this might negate the purpose of having an extra celebrity or 2 in the movie, but it also creates some fun Easter eggs for fans to discover.
Edward Norton in Kingdom of Heaven
Orlando Bloom is the star of Ridley Scott’s crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven, but he’s not the only big name in the cast. In addition to Liam Neesom, Eva Green and Jeremy Irons, Kingdom of Heaven also features an uncredited Edward Norton as Jerusalem’s King Baldwin IV. The reason you may not have noticed this? The historical King Baldwin suffered from leprosy, and he always wore a mask in public. So, you guessed it, Norton played the entire role behind a metal mask. Then, he requested that his name taken off the credits so it wouldn’t be spoiled. But he couldn’t keep it a secret for too long. Most critics thought he gave the best performance in the movie!
Gene Hackman in Young Frankenstein
Comedy legends Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder made three movies together: The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein. But neither of them had a particularly extensive track record of working with that other famous Gene: Gene Hackman. Nevertheless, Hackman made a memorable cameo as a blind priest in Young Frankenstein. Not being able to see Frankenstein’s monster’s grotesque appearance, the priest welcomes him into his home. But, despite the best intentions, the kindly old priest ends up doing more damage to the monster than the other way around. At the time, Hackman was more known for thrillers like the French Connection or The Conversation, so it must have been a shock for audiences to find out it was him hidden behind that fake beard and wig.
Famous musicians in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Originally, Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand was meant to play the Weird Sisters, a band that performs at the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. But when they dropped out, a hodgepodge of famous British musicians took over for them. Jason Buckle of All Seeing I [pronounced: eye] and Steve Caydon of Add N to (X) play rhythm guitar and bagpipes, while Johnny Greenwood and Phil Selway of Radiohead fill in as lead guitarist and drummer. Meanwhile, Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey of Pulp cover vocals and bass for the wizarding band. Previously, The Stone Roses’ Ian Brown made a cameo in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as a bar patron. Who knew the wizarding world was so musical?
Brad Pitt and Matt Damon in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
When George Clooney made his directorial debut with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, he tapped several of his famous friends to help out. Julia Roberts and Drew Barrymore agreed to work for less than their usual salary, while character actor Sam Rockwell took on the lead role as TV producer Chuck Barris. But when it came time to cast the contestants on The Dating Game, he recruited his Ocean’s 11 co-stars Brad Pitt and Matt Damon to play two of the contestants. Neither actor has any lines, but they both seem to be losing to a third, more homely contestant.
Daniel Craig and many more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Simon Pegg, star of Shaun of the Dead, is no stranger to cameos himself. He even appeared in the biggest film of last year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Under a great deal of prosthetics, Pegg played Unkar Plutt, the junk dealer on Jakkar that Rey deals with at the beginning of the film. Other celebrities who appeared in The Force Awakens include comedians Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz, who came up with the unique noises made by the show-stealing droic BB-8. Warwick Davis, who famously played an Ewok in Return of the Jedi, is a patron at Maz Canata’s cantina, and Hamilton scribe Lin-Manuel Miranda provides vocals for the cantina’s band. The most famous cameo, however, is James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, who is under the helmet of one of the stormtroopers guarding Rey on the Starkiller Base.