Skip to main content

100 Greatest Director Cameos

Minority Report (2002)

The Cameo: As an on-the-run Tom Cruise boards a subway train, a man looks up from his copy of USA Today... and it's Cameron Crowe!

Why It's Cool: It's the most obvious appearance that highlights a scene containing other less noticeable cameos, including Cameron Diaz directly behind him and, somewhere yet to be spotted, Paul Thomas Anderson (even he hasn't been able to find himself).

King Kong (2005)

The Cameo: One of the biplanes gunning for Kong in New York is piloted by helmer Peter Jackson.

Why It’s Cool: It’s actually a nod to original King Kong director Merian C. Cooper making exactly the same cameo in his film.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith (2005)

The Cameo: As Anakin and Palpatine walk to the box to watch the opera, they pass by a blue-skinned George Lucas.

Why It's Cool: After essentially creating one of the largest and most popular universes in sci-fi, Lucas finally got to play a part in it. Not only that, but he became a character in his own right - Baron Papanoida, who was expanded upon in the Clone Wars cartoon series and, yes, even got his own action figure.

Casino Royale (2006)

The Cameo: Martin Campbell plays the tanker driver who gets his neck broken by the bomber at Miami airport.

Why It’s Cool: Why settle for Man Who Reads Paper when you can play a guy who dies quite violently?

The Fog (1980)

The Cameo: John Carpenter appears early on in the film as Father Malone’s assistant Bennett.

Why It’s Cool: Carpenter makes frequent hidden appearances in his films, but this is by far his biggest role, with the most lines and… well, he’s actually pretty convincing!

Breathless (1960)

The Cameo: Jean-Luc Godard appears near the end of the film as a bystander in sunglasses who seems to recognise the wanted Michael and goes off to tell the police.

Why It's Cool: With a filmmaker such as Godard, you could interpret this cameo as his own subscription to the auteur theory, making it clear that the director alone has the power to change the course of events in a film. Or he could have just thought that he looked good in shades and wanted to capture that moment by jumping in front of the camera and replacing an extra.

Titanic (1997)

The Cameo: Towards the start of the film, James Cameron can be seen as a lower-class passenger getting his beard checked for lice before boarding.

Why It's Cool: The scruff-bag Cameron just doesn't look like he's king of the world here.

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

The Cameo: John Landis gets hit by a car and thrown through a shop window.

Why It's Cool: Most directors would cast themselves as 'inconspicuous passer-by', but Landis goes the whole hog with one of the more violent cameos on this list.

The Blues Brothers (1980)

The Cameo: At the end of the film, as the Blues Brothers are trying to make their payment, a young Steven Spielberg appears as the tax clerk who opens the door while eating a sandwich.

Why It's Cool: The Beard is practically unrecognisable without one.

Vanilla Sky (2001)

The Cameo: Steven Spielberg (complete with trademark cap) embraces Tom Cruise’s character at his birthday celebrations.

Why It’s Cool: It’s an unexpected treat when Spielberg greets Cruise with, “happy birthday you son of a bitch!”