5 Recurring Movie Extras You Won't Believe You Never Noticed
The best Easter eggs are the ones that were staring you in the face all along, but you never saw them. Then there are those that were not just staring, but breathing heavily and sweating profusely. There are recurring characters who show up in movies or shows that you've seen a hundred times but never noticed -- either because they were hidden, or simply because they have the kind of face you forget two seconds after you see it. Let us blow your mind by re-introducing you to ...
(Also, let us blow your mind with our Star Wars: Adventures in Jedi School trailer.)
Jesse Heiman, the Background Nerd in Every Movie
Something really weird happened during the Super Bowl this year. There was an advertisement where it was basically just this ...
Rosatia is the new abs.
... for 30 long, uncomfortable seconds. Well, one of those people has been in over 60 films and TV shows and worked with the likes of Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, and Michael Bay; the other one is supermodel Bar Refaeli (whose IMDb profile looks sad in comparison). This veteran actor's name is Jesse Heiman, and he was in 10 movies and TV shows in 2011 alone. In 2012, he was in seven more.
How is that even possible? Because he has made a career out of looking like a teenage dork despite being now in his mid-30s, and so every director just sticks him in the background. Don't say you've never seen him before, because yes, you have. Here he is in the first Spider-Man, sharing a scene with Kirsten Dunst:
In a universe where science geeks look like Tobey Maguire, this was the coolest guy in school.
And here he is in The Social Network:
They're all paying attention in class because this was before the guy in the back invented Facebook.
Remember Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can? He was there, too:
They ended up cropping him out because test audiences never noticed that Leonardo DiCaprio was there, too.
And that's just a small sample of his impressive career. Of course, he doesn't say anything in any of these movies and only appears onscreen for a few seconds, but how many hit movies have you not talked in? Jesse's first role was in American Pie 2, in which he played a non-speaking member of the infamous band camp:
You don't wanna know what he did with that trombone.
He moved on from high school to college in Will Ferrell's Old School, where he was one of the pledges ...
He's sad because he didn't get to tie a cinder block to his dick like the others.
... and from college to the workplace in Transformers 3. Michael Bay personally picked him for the role of "guy walking in the office."
And if there's one thing Michael Bay is known for, it's picking actors.
But Jesse isn't a snob: Unlike some of his fellow film stars, he has nothing against doing TV. In fact, he's been in pretty much every show ever, including The Big Bang Theory, Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, How I Met Your Mother, Entourage, My Name Is Earl, Bones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, NCIS, Chuck, Monk, The O.C., and Reno 911!
Here he is in two shows where every single cast member is a terrible person.
Despite all this, Jesse isn't satisfied: He dreams of a speaking movie role and hopes to be the next Jonah Hill. Jesse's days of receiving extra's pay to stand awkwardly in the background may be over, though, because just recently he's been approached by the porn industry, since apparently even the most rudimentary fame means that there's a subset of humanity that want to see what you look like naked.
While we wait for that, here's a clip of some of his best appearances:
R2-D2 Has Had a Better Acting Career Than Most of the Star Wars Cast
With the obvious exception of Harrison Ford, the actors in Star Wars haven't had very impressive film careers: Mark Hamill is best known for his voice-over work, Carrie Fisher for talking about her personal problems, and David Prowse for having been screwed over by George Lucas. Pretty much all of them have had terrible luck.
Oh, except R2-D2. The guy is everywhere.
That's R2-D2 flying through a battlefield in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, perhaps as a subtle hint of Abrams' plan to eventually take over every beloved sci-fi franchise (look out for his The Last Starfighter preboot in 2017). Sure, R2 is playing a piece of debris here, but that's still more dignified than starring in a Ricky Gervais series like his Star Wars co-star and fellow dwarfism sufferer Warwick Davis did.
On the other hand, Davis never shared a screen credit with Shia LaBeouf.
R2 has kept busy lately -- as seen above, he also shows up in Transformers 2, taunting us with horrible visions of an alternate reality where Michael Bay directs the Disney Star Wars sequels and gives C-3PO golden genitalia. This time R2 plays part of a robot that flies through the air to assemble itself into Optimus Prime's body, which incidentally was the exact plot of our erotic fan fiction novel.
The "let's hide R2 everywhere" tradition dates back to the '70s and started with Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in the very same year that Star Wars came out -- the droid can be seen standing on the underside of the alien ship, like Robert DeNiro's character in Cape Fear. Apparently, the SFX people needed more details for the ship's model, so they just threw in whatever they could find.
The aliens have very clumsy fingers, so they had to hire some guy named Luke to pilot the ship.
Spielberg must have enjoyed working with R2, because he included him again in Raiders of the Lost Ark, this time as a hieroglyphic. R2 somehow talked the director into including his buddy C-3PO there, too, along with a bunch of other Star Wars references -- Harrison "Just Fucking Kill Han Solo Already" Ford was probably thrilled.
For the record, Indiana Jones could beat up Han Solo.
Is 3PO playing the bongos on R2? What a shithead.
And then, not content with showing up in two of the greatest movie series of every '80s kid's childhood, R2 appears in The Goonies (produced by Spielberg) as part of the pirate ship. R2's so determined to make an impact among children that the only point of comparison by today's standards is childhood diabetes.
Either it's him or the ship is getting a boner.
There Are Over a Hundred Hidden Aliens in South Park
When South Park first debuted in 1999, the very first episode was called "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe" and, predictably, involved Cartman getting anally probed by aliens. Did the aliens ever remove the probe from Cartman's poop-hole, though? Apparently not, because these beings from another galaxy have stuck around and continue appearing on the show to this day. They're just hiding.
"Hiding" is a loaded word.
There are over a hundred instances of aliens hidden in the show, a record for guest appearances that's only topped by Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live. Some hidden aliens are pretty easy to spot and barely qualify as "hidden":
"There. I'm hiding. Fuck you."
Others, not so much:
In fact, some appear only as random patterns in the background or easy-to-miss details:
Don't you hate it when someone goes through the article before you and circles all the answers?
Others appear for just a few frames -- in the episode "Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson!" the smiley face on Manson's forehead temporarily changes to an alien.
We're not sure if this makes Manson look more or less sane.
The director of animation, Eric Stough, is in charge of putting the aliens in, but even he doesn't know how many there are, because he sometimes forgets to do it. Although they are becoming more infrequent in later seasons, the aliens still show up somewhere in the crowd in the show's opening credits ... so, technically, you could say there's an alien in every single episode.
It's right in front of Satan.
Remember the classic two-parter, "Cartman's Mom Is a Dirty Slut"? Yeah, there was an alien standing among Cartman's possible fathers:
So that's what she was doing in those German movies.
And, amazingly, they still show up in more recent episodes, like the one where the Internet runs out ("Over Logging"), and the one where Stan loses the ability to enjoy anything in life ("You're Getting Old"):
But there's more to this than just some pointless Easter egg. The continuation of the alien theme points to a much bigger plotline in the South Park universe, which is alluded to in the episode "Cancelled." Here it's revealed that the entire Earth is a reality show for aliens. So when we see aliens in the background, what we're really seeing are crew members, runners, grips, executives, etc.
All in the employ of a giant ice-cream-shitting taco.
Also, taking the time to find these things can pay off. For Season 13, they ran a contest where they offered prizes to whoever found all the aliens.
Futurama's Mysterious Number 9 Guy
Futurama is packed with clever Easter eggs and general awesomeness. It's almost like The Simpsons were never cance- ... what? Seriously? Huh. Anyway, we've told you before about the made-up alien alphabet and the real math formula created as throwaway gags for Futurama, but there was something else hidden in the show all along -- see if you can spot it in these stills from seasons 1, 2, 5, and 6 (1999-2011):
Trivia time: The Harlem Globetrotters existed before this series (they were created for Scooby-Doo).
Yep, either the "bald head, goatee, and Number 9 shirt" look is more popular in the future than we thought (perhaps it's the new attire for the Crips), or the same guy keeps showing up in many crowd scenes across the years. Here he is in the very first episode of the show, during the New Year's Eve 3000 celebration:
He even put on his one colored shirt this time, since he was gonna be on TV and all.
Naturally, the Number 9 Guy's mysterious appearances inspired several crazy theories among the show's devoted fans. According to one, he is a reference to John Lennon's disapproval of people who read too much into the Beatles' music -- the number 9 is supposed to come from the song "Revolution #9" from The White Album, the one that fueled the whole "Paul Is Dead" conspiracy theory. The idea is that Matt Groening is such a huge Beatles fan (three-fourths of the band has guest starred on The Simpsons so far) that he put that Easter egg in the show just to fuck with people.
Hence this blatantly inaccurate recreation of the Abbey Road cover.
However, the audio commentary from the Futurama DVDs revealed that the Number 9 Guy's actual origin is even crazier than the fans thought. Originally, he was part of an unexplained caste system and was actually a kind of slave -- the number 9 represented his rank in society, and presumably we would have seen other people being forced to walk around with big 9s on their clothing to show how unimportant they were.
"Stop that, you're not allowed to clap. Or smile."
The plot was abandoned, though, and the writers must have completely forgotten about it, because they eventually brought back the Number 9 Guy for a major part in a plot ... that involved him wearing a tin foil hat. OK, so maybe the whole "screwing with obsessive fans" theory wasn't so far from the truth. He has continued to show up in crowd scenes in the most recent seasons, now with the tin foil 'do permanently on.
Damn, we can never get the tin-sideburns to look that good.
The Same Two Hipster Cops Show Up in Every Superhero Comic
In 2011, comic book writer Scott Snyder noticed something strange while he was going through some superhero kid books: the same two vaguely hipsterish cops, standing in the background of comics by different artists and different companies, with no explanation. They can be seen capturing Lex Luthor after a fight with Superman ...
"Damn, my $6 billion robot armor is no match for these handcuffs."
... before jumping to the Marvel universe and arresting Spider-Man:
"You have to start wearing underpants with those tights, Spider-Man. There are kids around."
Note that it's always a brown-haired dude with sideburns and a red-headed guy with glasses and a soul patch. Here they are again, being molested by Catwomen ...
... then going off to capture Doctor Octopus:
Strange how they're always more effective when facing middle-aged dudes.
The characters have unofficially become known as the Mystery Hipster Cops, the most prolific photobombing law enforcers in the comic book world (granted, there isn't a lot of competition there). They were even featured in the kid-friendly tie-in to The Dark Knight Rises (yes, that exists) supporting an injured Commissioner Gordon while seemingly dressed as Ghostbusters, which is infinitely better than anything in the actual film.
This does back up our suspicions that Bane was possessed by Vigo the whole time.
Their weirdest characteristic is that they show up in Marvel books as well as DC, showing no regard for the laws of continuity or copyright. Nobody seems to know who they really are or what they want. Sideburns and Soul Patch are usually policemen, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of job security for cops these days, because they sometimes show up as businessmen, park rangers, secret service agents, or even criminals:
"Oh, darn, tied up by a scantily clad supermodel again."
When it comes to stalking superheroes in their secret identities, they prefer to wear regular clothes -- Clark Kent appears to be on to them:
Here they've followed Peter Parker to an airport and are wondering why he's suddenly 13:
And why Jameson suddenly looks like he's off to a vacation in the wrong part of Thailand.
They then stopped by Gotham City again and successfully blended into Bruce Wayne's party by copying his tuxedo:
Perhaps they are superheroes with the mutant power to make cameos everywhere, like revamped Muppet Babies versions of Stan Lee. Some fans believe they could be dimension-hopping characters, hinting at a Marvel/DC crossover, but that wouldn't account for the fact that they've also shown up in Transformers books:
"Shit, this is the worst place yet."
Although these superheroes are owned by different companies and the books are written and drawn by different people, it turns out that all of them are published by HarperCollins, so the mastermind behind this conspiracy is most likely someone who works there. Whatever the case, the hipster cops have captured the imagination of fans everywhere and even have their own terrible rap -- let's see who wises up first and gives them their own comic/movie.
We don't have a comic movie yet, but we've got a new Star Wars mini-series and that's even better.
Aaron Short is a film student. He's not allowed within 50 feet of George Takei, and he writes this blog about movies.
For more awesome pop culture Easter Eggs, check out 7 Insane Easter Eggs Hidden in Movies and TV Shows. Or discover 5 Things Hollywood Reuses More Than Plots.
To further expand your noggin, check out Cracked's De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn't Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew.