Watching a film in the present day is not as simple as just following the story; it has become more than that. Many have become fascinated by the stories and processes involved in filmmaking. While some audience members choose to spot continuity errors in films, others look out for exciting cameo appearances – whether it be from a celebrity or the film director themselves.
There are directors such as Martin Scorsese or Edgar Wright who habitually choose to play smaller roles in their films, but other film directors who are also excellent actors, such as Woody Allen or Clint Eastwood, decided to direct their films and play the leading roles.
Quentin Tarantino is perhaps among the most notorious directors to appear in their films. Tarantino has appeared in many of his own films, including Reservoir Dogs, From Dusk Til Dawnand most famously, Pulp Fiction. He plays a bigger role in Reservoir Dogs, his directorial and acting debut, as Mr. Brown, who is part of a group who go by colors as their aliases.
Though Tarantino did not direct From Dusk Til Dawnhe wrote the screenplay and had a leading role alongside George Clooney. In Pulp Fictionhe had a brief appearance as Jules’ (Samuel L. Jackson) friend, Jimmie, who helps them to hide a dead body. Tarantino has also made brief appearances in his other films, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, Kill Bill: Volume 1, Death Proof, and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
There is no denying that Alfred Hitchcock is considered one of the greatest filmmakers ever. Hitchcock has directed many cinematic classics such as Rear Window, Psycho, Vertigo, The Birds, North by Northwest, and many more that are still widely loved and studied today. He is known to make brief appearances in his films. And unlike Tarantino, his appearances usually have no dialogue, and he serves as a film extra.
In Dial M for Murderfor instance, Hitchcock is seen on the left side of the class-reunion photo sitting on the same table as Grace Kelly and Anthony Dawson‘s characters. In North by Northwest, he misses a bus just after we see his credit in the opening title sequence. In both Strangers on a Train and Vertigo, he carries instrument cases; a double bass case and a trumpet case. He makes cameo appearances in forty of his films, so much so that many still refer to similar brief appearances in films as a “Hitchcock cameo.”
Woody Allen has been a multitalented film director, actor, writer, and comedian for over six decades. He has written and directed all of his films, with only three films in his early days not directed by Allen himself, namely What’s New Pussycat?, Do not Drink the Waterand Play It Again, Sam.
Allen stars as the protagonist in many of his award-winning films, such as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Midnight in Parisand Hannah and Her Sisters. His most notable awards include four Academy Awards, ten BAFTA awards, and two Golden Globe Awards. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the Annie Hall in 1977.
Francis Ford Coppola
Apocalypse Now is the only film in which Francis Ford Coppola makes a cameo appearance. Despite a brief appearance, Coppola’s cameo is considered one of the greatest and most effective director cameos in film history. Coppola plays the role of an army television director shouting orders at a confused Captain Willard (Martin Sheen), “It’s for television! Do not look at the camera… just go by like you’re fighting! ”
It plays into a big running theme in Apocalypse Now: “The brutal exploitation of war and violence for entertainment.” Another lesser-known fact is that the cinematographer seen alongside Coppola in this particular scene is Vittorio Storrarowho is the actual cinematographer of Apocalypse Now.
Clint Eastwood is a man of many talents. He has been in the filming and entertainment industry since the 1950s and has appeared in over 60 films throughout his career. He made his directorial debut, and also starred in a film called Play Misty for Mewhich was released in 1971. Since his debut as a director, he has starred in many of his own films, with some of his prominent works including Unforgiven, Space Cowboys, Million Dollar Baby, and Cry Macho.
Eastwood’s role in the filming industry is rare in that he excels as both an actor, director, producer, and composer. Other films he has starred in but did not direct are A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and The Mule.
British filmmaker Edgar Wright has directed many iconic films since the 1990s and has starred in eight of them. The first film feature film he directed and starred in was A Fistful of Fingers in 1995. After this, Wright made cameo appearances in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. He appears as a zombie on the news ‘remembering Z-Day’ on Shaun of the Dead and as the guy pushing a trolley when Simon Pegg‘s character storms through the supermarket on Hot Fuzz. But his face is never clearly seen in these cameos.
In The World’s End, Wright appears as a construction worker. And in 2018, funnily enough, he made an unintentional cameo in Baby Driver. When Baby (Ansel Elgort) imitates playing the trumpet in a music shop, Wright’s reflection is visible in the music shop window. Despite it being a mistake, Wright decided to keep his unintentional cameo but required the help of VFX company DNEG to remove the monitor (used for actual filming) next to Wright so that he would look like a pedestrian. Fun fact: he also made a cameo as a Resistance Trooper on Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Episode VIII).
Charlie Chaplin is one of the most famous actors and comedians in the world. Those who have never seen a Charlie Chaplin film will still know who he is. A one-of-a-kind entertainer is a man of many talents; an actor, director, comedian, producer, and composer, and that is the kind of entertainer Chaplin was. His first film as an actor / writer / director was the 1914 film called Twenty Minutes of Love. He maintained these roles in every film he was involved in until 1916, when he started to take on another role – producer.
In 1918, A Dog’s Life became the first film produced by his own production company, where he played five different roles: actor, writer, director, producer, and composer. After A Dog’s Life, he performed the same roles in an additional twenty films; some of these films include The Gold Rush, The Circus, Modern Timesand The Great Dictator.
Martin Scorsese has made a habit of making cameo appearances in his own films. Some of his cameos are more noticeable and at a larger scale, such as his role as a chilling cab passenger in Taxi Driver. Scorsese’s role, credited as “Passenger Watching Silhouette.” tells Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) to linger around outside an apartment building and tells Bickle how he will kill his wife with a .44 Magnum. It is Scorsese’s most significant cameo to date, but he only made the cameo to replace the actor who canceled last minute due to an injury.
Other films Scorsese has appeared in include The King of Comedy, New York Stories, Gangs of New York, Hugo, and many more. In Gangs of New Yorkfor instance, Scorsese appears as a wealthy landowner who becomes one of the targets of the pickpocket-main-character Jenny (Cameron Diaz). And in Hugohe briefly played the role of a photographer who took pictures of a young Georges Méliès.
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