Artists have something of a reputation of being egomaniacs and control freaks. This is no less true in the world of film directors.
Lording over actors, technicians, sound crews and second units very often just isn’t enough and occasionally they get the compulsion to show their mugs in front of the camera as well.
Sometimes out of necessity, sometimes out of choice, cameos are generally of the blink-and-you’ll miss them variety that rely on a vigilant eye and a quick finger on the pause button.
Whether it’s appearing in their own movies or someone else’s, a few of filmdom’s favourite auteurs just can’t resist trying their hand at a spot of acting as a minor character or a walk on/walk by part.
Cameos are also something of a sneaky extra for film fans, adding to the movie-watching experience by adding an extra surprise and raising a wry smile for those in the know.
Here are five of the best.
1. Alfred Hitchcock
The greatest exponent of the film director cameo, Hitchcock’s portly frame was featured fleetingly in a total of 37 of his movies. In fact, his appearance became such an expected part of his film that he always tried to get it out of the way in the first five minutes so audiences could concentrate on the rest of the film.
2. Martin Scorsese
Although he’s appeared in character, as himself or as off-camera voice for his own and others’ films, Scorsese is best known for his cameo as a psychotic cab fare in his own Taxi Driver.
3. David Cronenberg
A regular in front of the camera in his own movies and fellow directors, one of his most famous star turns is in his remake of The Fly, in which he appears as an obstetrician delivering Geena Davis’ squelching, wriggling maggot baby. He was also one of the main stars in Clive Barker’s Nightbreed.
4. Steven Spielberg
Cinema’s most commercially successful director has dabbled several times in front of the camera – Vanilla Sky and Austin Powers. His enduring on-camera appearance, however, is in The Blues Brothers.
5. Peter Jackson
Yes, director of Lord of the Rings plays a psycho Santa who stabs Simon Pegg through the hand at the beginning of Hot Fuzz. So fast it’s barely visible to the naked eye, but it was that, changing bathroom cabinet lights or sweeping the cutting room floor.
Can you think of any other great film director cameos?
Gavin Harvey is a fitness fanatic whose itchy feet have taken him all over the globe. When he’s not travelling he loves to party at music festivals, watch classic movies and renovate his home with his partner. He is also an enthusiastic blogger and regularly writes for Luma Lighting.