The cameo appearance has been an integral part of cinema for many decades now, cropping up in many different guises.
Some pull you out of the film instantly (one painful example is ‘Bruce Willis’ in Ocean’s Twelve) – others riff on earlier, iconic straight roles for comedic effort (John Hurt in Spaceballs, Robert Patrick in Wayne’s World). A cameo can present the director with an opportunity to work with a hero (Stan Lee in Mallrats, Peter Jackson in Hot Fuzz) or a chance to immortalise themselves on film (Hitchcock, Scorsese, Tarantino). Some are a free-for-all, ‘bring yer mates’ love-in (The Expendables and most of the ‘frat pack’ films) while others are occasionally downright bizarre (a skinhead Matt Damon in Eurotrip).
The list of cameos below represent a different approach, avoiding the sometimes gimmicky nature of the function, and offering moments of brilliance which enhance and enrich the quality of the films themselves.
10) Christopher Walken – Annie Hall
Walken has a habit of using his distinctive screen presence to remarkable effect in a limited duration (True Romance, Pulp Fiction and Sleepy Hallow, amongst others) but it’s here in Woody Allen’s seminal 1977 feature where that edgy, unpredictable persona is used to maximum comedy effect.
Solemnly recounting his suicidal fantasies to Allen’s character after a testing family dinner at the Hall homestead, the comedian’s line for excusing himself (“I have to go now Duane, because I’m due back on the planet Earth”) perfectly sums up Walken’s hilarious, otherworldly behaviour.