If Jesus or Tupac ever finally return like we’ve all been saying they will, they should probably do it in a Judd Apatow film or something like that.
We love cameos, don’t we? It’s especially delightful when it’s extremely unexpected, and of course extra points if they are playing themselves – or better yet some kind of silly version of themselves.
It’s all about recognizing the kind of person you are perceived to be, and then playing off that in a way that makes the audience realize that you are in on the joke. If a celebrity is able to do that, it’s instant coolness.
12. Mark Hamill as Mark Hamill in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
It takes a very special kind of person to don a spiky wig, giant fist, black cape, and the title Cocknocker. Considering that this film had so many cameos that Kevin Smith actually had to turn people away, it’s very much not surprising to see Mark Hamill turn up in this. In fact it’s almost a mystery why he hadn’t been in a Kevin Smith film before. The cameo couldn’t come at a better time in the film, and the added caption of “Look kids, it’s Mark Hamill!” makes it easily the best appearance in this film.
If you watch the DVD’s behind the scenes features of this film, be sure to check out the stuff about shooting this part. What struck me as especially interesting is watching Kevin Smith talking with and directing Hamill on set – the director is literally glowing the entire time. After all, the man is face to face with his childhood hero, doing something that he never in a million years thought he’d get to do. Not only does he direct Mr. Skywalker in the scene, but he freaking gets to have a light saber fight with him! Not even make-a-wish kids do that!
11. James Taylor as James Taylor in Funny People
Since he appeared in that episode of The Simpsons it’s been clear that James Taylor has a pretty good sense of humor concerning his laid back and folksy persona. But in a film filled with hoards of comedian cameos, the last thing you really expect is this guy. The film does an amazing job of sneaking it up on you – playing Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind” merely as a background to a brief montage in the film, you expect that to be it. Then once the montage ends we see that the characters have actually found themselves watching Taylor finishing the song on stage.
It’s a great reveal. And if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Taylor gets what is probably one of the best comeback lines in the entire film – which is saying a lot considering the cast. When asked if he gets sick of playing the same songs over and over, he quickly replies to Rogen’s character: “You ever get tired talking about your dick?”
Hearing James Taylor say that filled a place in my heart I didn’t even know was empty. You can’t really ask for more from a film.
10. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane!
Years of watching this film, it’s easy to forget just how freaking weird it is to have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar play an airline pilot. Technically he isn’t playing himself, but rather Captain Roger Murdock. However as the above clip shows, he is clearly called out as being an imposter. The scene was probably just meant to comically break the forth wall for a moment, but I always liked to imagine that in the world of the film the actual basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar somehow obtained the identity of an airplane captain and was now attempting to live an alternate life, only to be called out by this young child.
It makes more sense that way, for the best part of this cameo has to be how incredibly out of place he looks sitting there next to Peter Graves. He’s genuinely awkward the entire time – like a man who can’t help but wonder what his agent was thinking when he set up him with the gig.
9. Tom Jones as Tom Jones in Mars Attacks!
Tom Jones always seemed like one of those people who took themselves surprisingly seriously. Mind you I have no evidence of that – it’s just always been a gut feeling of mine… at least until I saw this film. The man clearly knows he’s funny – but not in any kind of debasing way. No one thinks Tom Jones is a fool – no, he’s just so charming ladies man that he’s practically a caricature of himself at this point.
What Mars Attacks does is not lampoon Tom Jones for laughs but rather sticks him in a hilarious situation – in this case, fighting off aliens. It’s just not something you picture the guy doing, and yet once he gets thrown into the mix it becomes oddly natural. So natural that by the end of the film you kind of forget that it’s Tom Jones whipping a ray gun around.
Luckily the movie does a damn good job of reminding you right before the ending credits in what has to be the defining scene of this film. It’s the moment that the story comes to a screeching halt as Jones begins a very special rendition of “It’s Not Unusual” in the middle of a rocky island surrounded by woodland creatures. It’s Tim Burton’s way of pushing this already over-the-top film over its final peak of absurdity.
8. Charlton Heston as Charlton Heston in Wayne’s World 2
Charlton Heston is one of those actors where no matter what you see him in, it feels like he’s too good to be in it. This is why it’s so odd to see him in the sequel to a film based on a damn SNL sketch – it’s just so beneath him… at least it feels that way… honestly after seeing him in that episode of Space Ghost Coast To Coast I have no idea. The man either lost his mind or had a really good sense of humor about himself – either way, good for him.
He’s not even credited in this film as himself, but rather as ‘Good Actor’, which is pretty fitting. It must have been weird to be the other guy, ‘Bad Actor’. That’s like… the worst resume item ever, and judging by his IMDB page (his name is Al Hansen, by the way) he hasn’t really done much more after this film. He’s pretty much immortalized himself as the opposite as Charlton Heston. Meh… better than nothing.
7. Ryan Seacrest as Ryan Seacrest in Knocked Up
This is a rather refreshing cameo. Until this film, Ryan Seacrest pretty much had the personality of a dog – so even if this isn’t his true personality, it’s still nice to see that he can at least pretend to be angry about the bullshit that goes on in the entertainment industry.
To me, this really does seem like the most honest moment of this guy’s career – it’s as if they put him in front of the camera and just told him to say everything he’s always wanted to say. And listening to him rant you absolutely have to agree with him, and you can’t help but to like him and respect him afterward. Say what you want about Seacrest, the man knows good work ethic. He’s not whoring for attention or trying to be something he isn’t – no, he’s just quietly working away, hosting and producing, building up a nice big stack of money.