6 Inexcusable Director Cameos (In Their Own Movies)
Some famous directors have a particular knack for inserting themselves into their own films, thereby turning all their movies into a rollicking game of Where's Alfred Hitchcock? But other directors are less gifted, inserting distracting cameos that confuse audiences and serve only to darken their dreary and tedious lives. We're talking about such auteurs as ...
George Lucas' Star Wars Character Becomes A Huge Badass For No Reason
Revenge Of The Sith isn't just the thrilling conclusion to a story we already knew the end to; it's also one of the few times George Lucas has appeared on-screen. Midway through the film, Anakin has a vision of his wife dying and has naturally sprinted to the opera to ask his creepy boss for advice. Palpatine reveals that not only can he save Padme but that there is a small chance that Anakin may himself be Space Jesus.
Honestly, let's not talk about this any more than we have to.
You probably didn't even notice the blue bearded guy standing outside the opera:
Here's a quick rundown of his backstory.
Here he is again, displaying that steely camera presence that made him so famous for his work on the other side of that camera.
This is the same guy who redefined teen cinema. Just let that sink in.
But, honestly, this isn't that bad. It's as tasteful and low-key as a cameo can be.
That is until the offshoot animated series The Clone Wars started getting popular and the writers, one of whom is Lucas' daughter, decided they needed to revive the character and transform him from a mild-mannered, laconic opera-goer into Liam Neeson's character from Taken:
"I have a particular set of PEW PEW PEW PEW."
In the Clone Wars episode " Sphere Of Influence," the hitherto unnamed politician that no one gave a shit about is brought front-and-center when his daughters are kidnapped and taken to Tatooine over a trade dispute, because in this entire goddamned galaxy there are only five planets and three reasons to have an argument. Notluwiski Papanoida (that's his name) flies to Tatooine, where he talks to Jabba, threatens Greedo (there are also only 15 people in the galaxy), and eventually uncovers his daughters' whereabouts. In the finale, he battles an entire room of armed assassins and manages to kill them all before returning home to disappear from the series as pointlessly as he arrived.
Which is dumb and bad and also stupid. But it's still only a setup for the real crime:
The goddamned George Lucas action figure.
Stephen King Was Coked To The Gills In Maximum Overdrive
If you haven't seen Maximum Overdrive, go watch it now. Wait. No. Read the article, and the rest of Cracked, then watch it on someone else's time.
We've got mouths to feed.
Anyway, it's pretty bad. Based on a Stephen King story, Maximum Overdrive was also directed by King, despite the fact that he had absolutely no experience or capability for directing movies. And this was, like, the main selling point of the film, as evidenced by this completely bananas trailer.
That the film got made at all is kind of impressive, considering the production problems it faced. A cameraman nearly got killed by an ice cream truck, the director of photography lost an eye to a rogue lawnmower, and the director, who as discussed was Stephen King, was high on cocaine the entire time.
The movie opens the worst way a movie can -- with reading -- displaying a title card that explains the Earth is passing through the tail of a comet for the next week or so. Cut to a bank with a scrolling LED sign out front, which switches from telling the time and temperature to the pointed message, "FUCK YOU!"
The runner-up was "80085."
Understand, we're seconds into the movie at this point and it's already insulting us. And it's about to get so much worse.
Because up walks a man with the confidence of someone completely coked out of his mind ( his words). Yes, it's famed author, not-so-famed director Stephen King, who marches up to an ATM, seemingly unworried about the man who had been standing there seconds ago that has just vanished. The ATM considers King for a few microseconds, before calling him an asshole.
Not an entirely inaccurate assessment.
In his best Southern accent, which is slightly worse than a fish's best Southern accent, King calls to his off-screen wife to inform her and everyone present that the ATM called him an asshole.
Mind you, this is the very first character we see. It sets the stupid tone for the whole stupid movie and does an even better job of flipping off the audience than the huge "FUCK YOU" sign displayed seconds earlier.
M. Night Shyamalan's Cameo Ruins The Twist Of The Village
M. Night Shyamalan famously has a problem with twist endings. Sure, we all gasped at the end of The Sixth Sense and quietly agreed to ignore how little sense it makes. And we kind of did the same with Unbreakable, even though it was almost the exact same ending. But with every subsequent Shyamalan movie, we got a little more weary of the twist ending, which every one of them has. And the breaking point for many of us was The Village.
That summer, doctors reported dozens of cases of badly over-rolled eyes.
The movie takes place seemingly some time in the 1800s in a rural village where the residents live in constant fear of creatures that live in the woods and periodically show up to eat them. Which is a totally normal and accurate depiction of 19th-century life.
Mark Twain wrote about it a bunch.
After various events and stabbings, the character played by Bryce Dallas Howard is sent to retrieve medicine from a neighboring town. Finally, after miles of hiking, she climbs a wall and hops down the other side into:
Wait for it ...
Modern-day Pennsylvania! It turns out the village was established in a wildlife preserve, where people who have lost loved ones can flee the modern world and live in a simpler, more peaceful time when the murder rate was about twice what it is today.
Fortuitously, Bryce happens to drop on the other side of the wall just as a park ranger is driving by. She asks him for medicine, and he shrugs, because why not, and goes to his headquarters. Where he finds none other than M. Night Shyamalan reading the newspaper.
"'Maintenance Man Discovers Woman Living In Apartment Swimming Pool' ... Huh."
The movie's director then delivers a completely unsolicited speech in an effort to hastily patch the Titanic-sinking holes in the movie's plot. And then, just in case you weren't sure who was reading the paper (you only see the side of his face), the ranger slips into the medicine cabinet just so you can see Shyamalan's reflection in the glass:
Recreational use of antibiotics is strictly prohibited.
The dumbest part of all this? If you're even mildly familiar with Shyamalan's movies, you've probably noticed that he puts himself in basically all of them, a la Hitchcock. For example, he's the guy who runs over Mel Gibson's wife in Signs. And in 2006's Lady In The Water, Shyamalan plays an uncelebrated author whose philosophy will someday become so important to the history of the human race that it will inspire future presidents.
Not even making this up.
But both of those movies clearly take place in modern times -- The Village purports to be an 1800s drama starring a bunch of Puritan types who say lines like, "It is only farce!" with a straight face. Any audience members with a passing familiarity with Shyamalan's work are waiting for a random South Asian character to inevitably and inexplicably show up in old-timey rural America. Which wouldn't be an impossible occurrence, we suppose, but in general, the audience shouldn't walk into your movie assuming "everything is a hologram" or whatever.
Tarantino Attempts An Unexplained Australian Accent In Django Unchained
And now we come to the modern king of the directorial cameo, Quentin Tarantino. Although he is marginally better at acting than most of the other directors here, Quentin Tarantino has the self-inflicted misfortune of having to perform alongside some fairly phenomenal actors. Dressing in a bathrobe and shouting N-bombs looks kind of silly in the presence of John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, and Harvey Keitel.
"Did you notice a sign in front of my house that said 'Problematic Language Storage'?"
But the worst example occurs in Django Unchained. Let's set the stage. Django is at his lowest point, having been captured and sold to a mining company, where he will be worked to death. Only one thing could possibly make his life worse.
Quentin Tarantino and an Australian accent!
The vest's not great either.
For reasons completely unexplained in the movie, the mining company is Australian, allowing Tarantino to show off a pretty inadvisable Aussie accent. It's a really disorienting scene, and it takes only a few minutes for the movie to kind of realize it and correct its mistake.
By exploding it.
No explanation is given for why the character or his colleagues are Australian. It turns out this was cut from the movie, in particular some dialogue that revealed Tarantino's character is an indentured servant as well.
By this point in the script, Tarantino was running out of name ideas.
Which means this could have been an even worse cameo. The intent here, having a white slave of sorts to contrast with Django, is so tone-deaf we should be grateful it was cut, leaving behind just the bizarre accent in its wake.
Peter Jackson's Hobbit Cameo Creates A Time Paradox
In the process of pouring eight years of his life into the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson decided that the movies should have his face in them. And fair enough, Pete. Those films are so good he could have inserted footage of himself vigorously shout-masturbating for 30 minutes without any of us so much as uttering a peep.
But instead of the aforementioned brave and daringly sexual concept, Jackson opted for something more low-key, giving himself a minor part in The Fellowship Of The Ring. When Frodo's posse rolls into Bree, Jackson can be seen on the street, munching on a carrot like Bugs Bunny:
"Ehh, what's up, Took?"
And that's all you get, just a few precious frames in over 83 hours of film (632 if you're watching the special editions). This would be fine on its own. Except it's not on its own, not after what he does in The Hobbit.
Which is the exact same thing.
Although a little hard to pick out among the hundreds of other bizarre choices in the films, in The Desolation Of Smaug, Jackson again decided to give himself screen time playing the same character with the same crippling Vitamin A deficiency.
"Ain't I a stinker?"
This raises one obvious question: Barring any sort of Benjamin Button-type curse, why does Carrot Guy look visibly older in a movie that takes place 60 years before the events of Fellowship? Is it possible Jackson had no idea what he was doing?
Oh, yes, that's exactly what happened. If the Lord Of The Rings trilogy is a testament to what a man with vision and nigh unlimited resources can do, then the Hobbit trilogy is a testament to what happens when you give that man even more resources and firm instructions to have even less vision. They were quite literally making it up as they went along. We were lucky it wasn't any worse.
Very lucky, it turns out, because they actually filmed a worse cameo. In that one, Jackson played "Basketman," a spy in Lake-town who narcs on Bilbo and the gang. Jackson describes Basketman as a master of disguise, a skill he ably shows off by hiding in a goddamn basket.
"It's me, your favorite Tolkien character! I have all the powers of a receptacle."
He pops up, gives what is supposed to be a bird call (it sounds a little closer to a mournful elk), and then disappears again. We are only spared this thanks to the actions of Jackson's wife, Fran, who vetoed it (Director's Guild rules have some odd checks and balances), describing it as "one of the worst pieces of acting I've ever seen." Only then did Jackson decide to cut it, leaving room for his now-signature carrot scene, and 12 additional battle sequences.
Michael Bay Casts Michael Bay As A Scientist In Armageddon
Though not his first film, Armageddon is the movie that really introduced America to the explodey enigma that is Michael Bay.
Bay, seen here relaxing at home.
Without getting too deep into the plot of Armageddon, which is impossible, let's explain the cameo. The shuttle Atlantis has just exploded in space and New York is getting pelted with asteroids. As NASA scrambles to figure out what the hell is happening, an abusive amateur astronomer with inexplicable access to a massive, domed telescope reports that there's an asteroid headed right for us.
Scientists scramble to figure out what they're dealing with, including:
This unusually blow-dried example.
Look, we don't want to stereotype. But Michael Bay clearly does, which is why all the scientists in his movies look like, well, scientists. And in a tension-building moment when the audience is about to learn how royally fucked planet Earth is, tossing in a long-haired hippy among a group of classically groomed nerds is a bit incongruous.
"Day 35: The dorkwads have accepted me as one of their own."
It draws the audience's attention to something it shouldn't. Like the fact that when Michael Bay is cast as a scientist, you are about to watch the least scientific movie of all time.
When he's not doing coke with Stephen King, Chris writes for his website and tweets.
It's hard to believe, but plenty of your favorite celebrities have awful cameos under their belts. See them in 24 Celebrity Cameos Too Embarrassing For Words and 6 Terrible Cameos That Just About Ruined the Movie.
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