Ah, the venerable film cameo. If done right, a guest appearance can provide a welcome surprise and elevate a movie to greater heights. Indeed, never underestimate the power of a good cameo; it can become the most talked-about part of a movie and, in some cases, even resurrect a slumping career. Here are 11 examples. —Donald Deane
Some may prefer Steve Buscemi's hilarious bit part as a drunken best man who makes the worst toast in history, but for our money, Billy Idol's cameo in The Wedding Singer steals the movie, especially since he plays a pivotal part in uniting Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler) and Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore) during the climactic airplane scene. Who knew the 80s rocker was such a romantic?
In a nifty bit of continuity that links all X-Men movies and spinoffs to date, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) appears for a brief moment in the prequel X-Men: First Class. Wolvie's only onscreen for a little more than 20 seconds or so, but he still manages to drop the F-bomb in that short time. We'd expect nothing less from our favorite gruff superhero.
Viewers who sat through the closing credits of Fede Alvarez's 2013 Evil Dead reboot were treated to a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo by beloved hero Ash (Bruce Campbell), which gave renewed hope that a sequel to the original series may be coming.
Everyone knows that Johnny Depp patterned Captain Jack Sparrow after Keith Richards, so it's only fitting that the man himself appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End as Sparrow's father Captain Teague. (An honorable mention goes to Sparrow's mum, who shows up as a desiccated shrunken head.)
In the stoner comedy Half Baked, Bob Saget completely flouts his family-friendly image as a recovering addict who makes a graphic admission of what he used to do in return for cocaine. Fair warning: watching this cameo will forever alter your appreciation of Full House reruns.
In Pulp Fiction, Captain Koons (Christopher Walken) regales young Butch with a tale involving a gold watch that he smuggled in his rectum for two years. Without a doubt, it's one of the most cringe-inducing and unforgettable cameos ever. For another example of a Walken appearance guaranteed to make you squirm, see his scene opposite Dennis Hopper in True Romance.
Fans were understandably excited when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) appeared after the closing credits of Iron Man and attempted to recruit Tony Stark into the Avengers. The cameo gave us a deeper look into the Marvel universe, helped set the stage for the onslaught of superhero movies to come and created a new expectation for bonus scenes.
Neil Patrick Harris may have played a wholesome character on Doogie Howser, M.D., but his sidesplitting turn as a sex-crazed, drug-fueled version of himself in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle was decidedly adult. NPH's cameo was so popular, in fact, that he was given an extended role in the 2008 sequel Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
What does Bill Murray do when confronted by armies of the undead? According to his cameo in Zombieland, he uses makeup and his acting chops to "blend in" so he can keep playing golf. Of course, Murray meets a tragic end in the flick, but it makes us feel better knowing he wasn't a fan of Garfield either.
At one point, Tom Cruise's career was nearly derailed by Scientology fanaticism and his notorious couch-jumping incident on The Oprah Winfrey Show. But his profanity-laden cameo as balding, potbellied studio exec Les Grossman in 2008's Tropic Thunder reminded us that he could act and be funny at the same time. And as the closing credits show us, his killer dance moves are intact, too.