There’s an argument that any cameo you notice could pull you out of the film and ruin your viewing experience, and there’s a truth to that.
In my opinion though, there’s a time and a place for a great cameo – and they often work best in films that might not take themselves too seriously.
That’s what we’re looking at with this week’s Quick Read… and one that might not have aged so well.
David Bowie in Zoolander (and The Prestige)
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of David Bowie. I love his music, his creativity and his playful sense of humour.
That sense of humour – as evidenced by his love of classic British comics The Beano and Viz – is best displayed on film in his brief cameo as himself in Zoolander, where he steps up to use his powers as a fashion icon to judge a walk-off between Ben Stiller’s Derek Zoolander and his rival, Hansel (Owen Wilson).
It’s just a throwaway couple of minutes in a very silly film, but you can tell his tongue is firmly in his cheek throughout, and he’s having a good time adding a little gravitas to a very daft sequence.
Conversely, his turn as Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (coming to a Late Review near you soon), is a far more serious and sombre affair, in-keeping with the tone of the film.
(I know, I know, this was supposed to be about ‘fun’ cameos, but it’s Bowie, alright?!)
I’ve joked previously on Twitter that his introduction as Tesla (as seen in the gif above), didn’t actually include any special effects wizadry, that’s just what happened when David Bowie walked into a room, but the fact that it’s David Bowie doesn’t really distract from his performance as it might in other productions.
His Tesla is a melancholy recluse, a true innovator, a genius who is unappreciated in his time, but capable of incredible things, and Bowie plays it with a seriousness and sadness that you buy completely.
Seal in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
I’ll be honest, I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for this film. Yes, it’s very silly, but it’s also very funny and a lot smarter than it lets on. Maybe.
While Seal’s appearance in the film leans heavily towards the silly and funny side of things, it still works for me because (a) I don’t think I’d even thought about Seal for about a decade prior to seeing this film, and (b) he plays it so well.
Anyway, I couldn’t find a gif, so you can check out the clip for yourself below – and I would advise keeping an eye out for Popstar if you haven’t already seen it because it’s well worth 90 minutes of your time.
Christopher Lloyd in A Million Ways To Die In The West
While I didn’t particularly care for this film (it was just fine – not hilarious, not terrible, just okay), I’m a huge Back To The Future fan which means it was impossible for me not to get a kick out of seeing Christopher Lloyd being Doc Brown again. I admit I’d forgotten the scene ends with a few notes from Alan Silvestri’s unforgettable score for the trilogy too, which is a nice little bonus.
Alright, it’s a completely unnecessary cameo, but then aren’t some of the best ones completely unnecessary? Saying that, there was also a Ewan McGregor cameo in it too, if I recall correctly, which was probably funnier, but it’s Doc Brown, of course I’m going to choose him over Mark Renton!
Again, I couldn’t find a gif, so here’s the clip…
Go on then, you choose a great cameo…
If I’m being honest, I’ve chosen these three for the reasons above, but also because I wanted to avoid some of the most obvious ones – I did a similar thing with the By The Decade pieces – because I want to hear some of your favourite cameo appearances.
Ideally, they’ll be restricted to one or two scenes (technically I suppose Bowie is a pivotal character in The Prestige, but he’s not in it for long and… sod it, it’s Bowie, okay?), but the more surprising or funny, the better.
Get yourself on Twitter, Facebook or email me through the Contact page to let me have your favourites, and I’ll post them up here soon!
Oh, and if they could be construed as spoilers (looking at you, Matt Damon!), maybe mark them up as such – just to be on the safe side.
… and finally, here’s one that maybe hasn’t aged so well.
UPDATED: The reader recommendations for favourite cameo appearances are available to view here!