Did You Notice The Director Cameos In These Films?

Traditionally, the director’s job is usually behind the camera or performing other tasks to make sure that a movie is running smoothly. Yet, at times, they make cameos in their own films either to fill a small role or because they simply feel like having some time on screen. Some directors even got their start in the film industry as actors, so they might jump in front of the camera to brush off the cobwebs. Whether they act in small or large roles, some viewers miss their cameos entirely. Did you catch these director’s appearance in these films?

M. Night Shyamalan Plays A Doctor In The Sixth Sense

M. Night Shyamalan as a doctor
Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

Director M. Night Shyamalan has been known to appear in many of his own films, however, one of the most memorable is from The Sixth Sense, arguably his best work. However, he isn’t particularly known for his acting abilities, and keeps his cameos relatively small, but just long enough that audiences might recognize that it’s him.

This is the case in The Sixth Sense, where Shyamalan makes an appearance as a doctor who is concerned that Cole’s mother might be hurting him, resulting in the boy’s explainable behavior.

Francis Ford Coppola Essentially Played Himself In Apocalypse Now

Francis Ford Coppola as director in movie
United Artists
United Artists

Because Francis Ford Coppola is commonly referred to as a perfectionist as a director, his brief appearance in his 1979 film, Apocalypse Now, makes fun of himself. When Willard is walking past an army film crew, Coppola can be seen acting as the director who is shouting at the passing soldiers.

He yells, “Don’t look at the camera! Just go by like you’re fighting. Like you’re fighting. Don’t look at the camera! This is for television. Just go through, go through.” While Coppola is certainly noticeable, it’s such a quick scene it might have been easy to miss.

Roman Polanski Makes A Brief Yet Impacting Appearance In Chinatown

Polanski as Man With Knife
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Although Roman Polanski may have the small role that’s credited as Man With Knife in his iconic film Chinatown, his cameo leaves a literal mark throughout the rest of the movie. The iconic line “You know what happens to nosy fellows?” is said by Polanski himself, whose character then proceeds to slice Jake Gittes’ (Jack Nicholson) nostril with a knife.

Because of this, Gittes wears a noticeable bandage and later stitches throughout the rest of the film. Although a lot of people might have missed that it was Polanski, it certainly is an interesting role for him to choose to play.

Peter Jackson Made Numerous Appearances In His Tolkien Adaptations

Bilbo hanging up portraits of his parents
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Director Peter Jackson made at least one appearance in all six of his Middle-Earth films. He’s eating a carrot in The Fellowship of the Ring, throwing a spear in The Two Towers, and is a sea captain in Return of the King. He’s also featured as a dwarf from The Lonely Mountain and a man from Laketown in his Hobbit trilogy.

However, possibly his most subtle and interesting cameo can be seen in The Battle of the Five Armies, where portraits of he and his are hung in Bilbo Baggins’ house acting as Bilbo’s parents.

All Thre Directors Had Cameos In Airplane!

Zucker brothers acting as air traffic controllerslrs
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Regarded as one of the greatest comedies of all time, Airplane! had not one – but three directors. These were the brothers David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams. Known for packing in as much comedic content as they possibly could, they managed to slip themselves into the film on a few occasions.

The first appearance is by the Zuckers, who are acting as air traffic controllers who fail to guide a plane from a runway. The second is Abrahams, who appears as one of the religious zealots at the airport.

Alfred Hitchcock Was In Most Of His Films

Hitchcock trying to board the bus
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Out of all the directors in history, Alfred Hitchcock takes the cake for making the most appearances in his films. However, his presence isn’t always obvious, for instance, in the film Lifeboat, his photo can be seen briefly on a newspaper found on the raft.

However, one of his most memorable cameos comes from his film North by Northwest. During the opening credits, he has no dialogue but is a man attempting and failing to board a bus, with the doors closing on his face as “Directed by Alfred Hitchcock” appears on the screen.

John Houston Has A Memorable Scene in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

John Houston as a well-dressed American
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Released in 1948, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is directed by John Houston and is an adaptation of B. Traven’s 1927 novel of the same name. Early on in the film, Fred C. Dobbs, played by Humphrey Bogart, is struggling to make ends meet. He ends up begging for change from a well-dressed American before embarking on his journey in search of treasure.

However, it turns out that Fred has already asked for money from the well-dressed man earlier that day. As it turns out, the snazzy American is John Houston, and although it’s only a small role, it has withstood the test of time.

James Fawley Played A Bartender In The Muppet Movie

James Frawley as bartender
Associated Film Distribution
Associated Film Distribution

Surprisingly, the 1979 film, The Muppet Movie, wasn’t actually directed by someone who was a part of the regular Muppets team such as Frank Oz or Jim Henson. Instead, the first Muppets film was directed by James Frawley. In the film, he makes a live-action appearance as a bartender at the El Sleezo Cafe.

While speaking momentarily to Kermit the Frog, he repeats one of the film’s ongoing jokes, “Maybe he should try Hare Krishna,” only for Kermit to reply, “Grief, it’s a running gag.”

Wes Craven Gives A Horror Reference And A Cameo In Scream

Wes Craven dressed as Freddy Kruger
Dimension Films
Dimension Films

Wes Craven is known for his many contributions to the horror genre throughout the decades with one of them being the Scream franchise. As Sydney Prescott and her friends are terrorized by a masked killer inspired by horror films, there are a number of classic horror references, including one by the film’s director.

In the movie, Wes Craven appears as the high school janitor, however, his outfit is very specific. He sports the red and green sweater hat the belongs to Freddy Kruger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, another one of Craven’s masterpieces.

Michael Bay Is An Out Of Place Scientist In Armageddon

Michael Bay as NASA scientist
Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

Although it had mostly negative reviews Michael Bay’s Armageddon was still the highest-grossing film in 1998 worldwide. The film follows blue-collar drillers, led by Bruce Willis, tasked with destroying an asteroid before it reaches Earth.

After the shuttle, Atlantis is mysteriously destroyed and New York is showered with meteors, a team of NASA scientists scrambles to figure out what happened. One of these scientists turns out to be a shaggy-haired Michael Bay who looks to be reading a space shuttle manual. He then jumps into action, clearly standing out among the other clean-cut scientists.

Joe Russo Made Multiple Cameos In The Captain America Series

Joe Russo on a screen in the movie
Walt Disney Studios
Walt Disney Studios

Fans were rather shocked when it was announced that the second installment in the Captain America series, Winter Soldier,was going to be directed by Joe and Anthony Russo. However, they managed to wow audiences with the work that they did on the film, and the two were hired once again to take on the followup film, Captain American: Civil War.

Joe Russo decided to make appearances in both films acting as a SHIELD Doctor in The Winter Soldier, and a few split-second cameos in Civil War, such as when he appears on a screen.

Edgar Wright Was One Of the Multiple Cameos In Hot Fuzz

Edgar Wright with Pegg and Frost
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

After working together on the television show Spaced and film Shaun of the Dead, Edgar Wright directed Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Hot Fuzz. The film was another macabre comedy, starring Pegg and Frost as police officers trying to solve a series of deaths in the English countryside.

The film had numerous cameos including Peter Jackson as a violent Santa Clause and Steve Coogan as a Metropolitan Police Inspector. Wright made an appearance himself, too, although it was much less obvious. He can be seen as a shelf stacker, ironically, his previous profession.

Quentin Tarantino Plays An Iconic Role In Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino as Jimmie in Pulp Fiction
Miramax
Miramax

When it comes to his own movies, Quentin Tarantino is not afraid to step in front of the camera. While he has acted as a masked character in Kill Bill and his hands were used in Inglorious Basterds, he has also taken up more prominent roles such as that of Mr. Brown in Reservoir Dogs.

However, arguably, his most memorable cameo comes from Pulp Fiction. He plays Jimmie, a friend of Jules, and the owner of the house that Jules and Vincent bring the dead body of Marvin to. It’s an amusing role that provides some comic relief to the situation.

Clint Eastwood Makes A Clever And Sly Appearance in Jersey Boys

Clint Eastwood in Rawhide during Jersey Boys
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Earning numerous Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, it’s clear that Clint Eastwood is no stranger to being in front of the camera. However, his most subtle appearance to date is in his film Jersey Boys. Supposedly, it was suggested he join in the production in a scene with people dancing by the street to which he responded, “No, a man must know his limitations.”

Instead, it was decided that during a party scene, one of the actors would be watching an old episode of Eastwood acting in his old show Rawhide. He commented, “That was my way of having a Hitchcock moment without actually having to do anything.”

Wes Anderson Lent His Voice To The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson as the animated Stan Weasel
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox was Anderson’s first shot at animation and opted for the film to use the tedious process of stop-motion animation rather than typical CGI. Because it was an animation, Anderson couldn’t be in the film, but he used his own voice for the role of Weasel.

He also used his own voice as the tennis commentator in his 2001 film, The Royal Tenenbaums. So, unless you know exactly what Wes Anderson’s voice sounds like, it’s likely both these small cameos went right over your head.

Blink And You’ll Miss Steven Spielberg In The Temple Of Doom

Steven Spielberg as a missionary
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

After the success of Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, StevenSpielberg was happy to direct the series’ second installment, The Temple of Doom. He even included himself in the film, although briefly.

During one scene, Spielberg can be spotted momentarily amongst a huddle of missionaries at the Airport of Shanghai, China where Indy gets on a plane, unknowing that it’s a trap. Dan Aykroyd also plays the character of Weber in the scene, another cameo most people miss.

Stephen King Is Insulted By An ATM In Maximum Overdrive

Stephen King as Southern man in Maximum Overdrive
De Laurentils Entertainment Group
De Laurentils Entertainment Group

Although nobody doubts Steven King’s creativity and writing abilities, from his directorial debut with Maximum Overdrive it’s apparent that film isn’t exactly his forte. On top of being heavily under the influence while shooting the movie, the concept of his novel just didn’t transfer well onto the screen, yet King still made an appearance.

He plays a southern man who approaches an ATM, only for it to insult him, calling him a rather unsavory name. He then proceeds to inform his off-screen wife whom he refers to as “suga’ buns” what just happened.

David Lean Made A Brief Yet Influential Appearance In Lawrence of Arabia

Man on a motorcycle
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Directed by David Lean and released in 1962, Lawrence of Arabia is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, chronicling the experiences of T.E. Lawrence, a British army officer, military theorist, archaeologist, diplomat, and writer during World War I.

During a pivotal moment in the film, Lean offered to do to a vocal cameo as a motorcyclist who asks Lawrence the existential question “Who are you?” one of the biggest themes in the film.

Sleight Of Hand in Batman V Superman

Director Zack Snyder's hand
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

In the case of a lot of movies, scenes that only show the lead legs or hands of the main character are rarely the lead actor. It’s not worth the actor’s time or the companies money to spend money on shots that could be performed by anyone.

Well, that’s exactly what happened in the film Batman V Superman. In a scene showing Bruce Wayne walking into an underground night club, director Zack Snyder used his own hands that are actually supposed to be Ben Affleck’s. Sneaky!

Martin Scorsese Makes A Disturbing Appearance In Taxi Driver

Scorsese sitting in the backseat
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Released in 1976, Taxi Driver is a neo-noir film that follows the lonely Vietnam War veteran, Travis Bickle, as he slowly descends into madness working as a taxi driver in a grim depiction of New York City. One night, Bickle picks up an unhinged passenger (Martin Scorsese) who has him drive to the outside of an apartment where we see the silhouette of a woman, supposedly the passenger’s wife.

There, the passenger explains in detail to Bickle his plans to murder his adulterous wife, even managing to shock the already unstable taxi driver. It’s an unnerving scene that Scorsese executed beautifully.