Tom cruise in Tropic Thunder. Lance Armstrong in Dodgeball. Stan Lee in, well, all films Marvel. Everyone can jot down a few cameo appearances come the pub quiz film round, but what answers would win you the Pointless head-to-head round? What about the Brits that made their way onto the big screen? Here are the UK’s finest celebrities donning the heaviest cameo-flague in film.
1. Andi Peters in Toy Story 2 (1999)
You know, Andi Peters, the man of Live and Kicking, Sunday Feast and CBBC’s broom cupboard. That’s right, the Edd the Duck bloke. After filming a documentary about the first Toy Story in 1999, Peters was cast as ‘Male Baggage Handler 1’ in Pixar’s third full-length feature. His line: “hold it – there’s a couple more bags coming from the terminal!”
Was this a hint from Hollywood that Peters should pack his own bags for a move across the pond? Would this animated plane fly him to international stardom? In a word: no. In a few more words: no, but here’s a video of Peters tripping over a bin and running away from a dog on Good Morning Britain.
2. George Harrison in The Life of Brian (1973)
Now repeat after me: “He’s not one of the Beatles, he’s a very naughty boy!”
Yes, ten years after the breakup of Liverpool’s greatest quartet, Harrison was branching out. He’d founded his own production company, Handmade Films. He pumped $4 million into The Monty Python’s Life of Brian. In short, he was making a name for himself outside The Beatles.
And how did director Terry Jones embrace Harrison’s vision? Letting him cameo as an indistinguishable background character eclipsed by the leading performers and a secondary female character. Even his scouse ‘ello’ was dubbed over by Michael Palin in the final cut. Poor George.
3. Richard Branson in Casino Royale (2006)
It’s the mid-noughties: the age of the Branson film appearance: ‘Balloon Man’ in Around The World in 80 days, ‘Shuttle Engineer’ in Superman Returns – Virgin’s CEO was all over (the corner of) the big screen. However, the cameo king’s top performance came in the form of ‘man frisked at Miami airport’ in Daniel Craig’s first Bond flick.
A large role it ain’t, but, as a huge 007 fan, it’s Branson’s proudest cameo to date. He’s even said that if he could be a superhero, he’d transform into Her Majesty’s finest secret agent. However, would Bond still look cool in a Virgin-branded Aston Martin? No. No, he would not.
4. Alex Reid in Sliding Doors (1998)
Once upon a time, Alexander Aristides Reid wasn’t known as the MMA fighter who married (and divorced) Katie Price. He wasn’t even known as the Genie in Wrexham’s renowned pantomime of 2015. No, to the naive world of 1998, Alex Reid was known as ‘Waiter 1’, the man in the salmon shirt brushing up next to Gwyneth Paltro in Sliding Doors.
An even-if-you-don’t-blink-you-could-miss-it moment it may be, but it was a role that meant Reid would no longer be ‘German policeman’ from 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies or ‘man in background’ in Judge Dredd (seriously, the guy’s done a lot).
5. Chris Martin in Shaun of the Dead (2004)
It hurts like heaven if you’re bitten by a Zombie, is what you’d imagine Chris Martin would say about his Cornetto trilogy appearance. He wouldn’t even mention that he also appears on the film’s soundtrack with a cover of the classic Buzzcocks tune Everybody’s Happy Nowadays. Or that Coldplay guitarist Jonny Buckland also appeared as one of Pegg and Frost’s undead extras. Mainly because he knows that extra trivia doesn’t mean a lot to you. He’s a thoughtful guy, that Chris.
6. David Beckham in a The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
That famous halfway line goal. The England’s captain armband. Six Premier League titles, two FA cups and a Champion’s League medal. All of it was leading up to this: crouching behind a projector in Guy Richie’s 2015 Cold War flick, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
No really, that is him. Golden balls was offered to play the KGB projectionist after being offered the role over the phone by Richie and leading man Henry Cavill. And you know what? Becks pulls off the role with without a hitch (mainly because he doesn’t have to try out a Russian accent, a piece of cinema history for ever robbed from the world).
7. Stephen Fry in Chariots of Fire (1981)
Get out your reading glasses and warm-up your squinting muscles, this one’s difficult. While Fry was a student at Cambridge, the classic sports movie was filming at Trinity college and looking for extras. Enter Fry, at the very very back of the screen for a full 35 seconds.
Firstly, you might not recognise him because he’s only a few pixels big. But also because he looked so strangely young in his first film appearance. Aged only 23, Fry appears absurdly fresh-faced and boyish. But mainly pixelated.
8 and 9. Dan & Phil in Big Hero 6 (2014)
Notice anything strange about ‘Technician 1’ and ‘Technician 2’ in Big Hero 6? Us neither. But it’s a true story: YouTube and Radio 1 ‘s Dan and Phil (Dan Howell and Phil Lester) lent their voices to kid’s superhero blockbuster Big Hero 6.
Yes, they’re not it for long. Yes, completely unlike real life, it’s hard to tell them apart. But it’s them.
10. Ozzy Osbourne in Trick or Treat (1986)
The Prince of Darkness was actually slated to play Reverend Aaron Gilstrom in this classic slasher flick. However, we’re not entirely sure who turned up. This guy sounds like Ozzy. He sure acts a lot like Ozzy. But is it him? He’s not wearing those tinted glasses. He’s got his hair short and neat. He even gives a speech about the moral dangers of heavy metal.
However, that is him. And that’s not his only cameo. In the gender-bending remake of Ghostbusters, Osbourne can be seen playing in the fictional rock group Beasts of Mayhem, a part more fitting to the Black Sabbath singer than an anti-metal man of the clergy.
11. Zoella AKA Zoe Sugg in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
Yes, the Zoella, YouTube’s golden girl, actually starred as an anonymous part of a face behind Ron Weasley in the first Harry Potter flick. Still, she’s so good that she’s listed as “Girl in Potion Class’ on the film’s IMDB page.
However, there’s a bitter taste to this nugget of knowledge: Zoella plays a Slytherin. Why would the sorting hat consign Britain’s biggest beauty blogger to the house of Tom Riddle? We can only speculate Hogwarts’ most important piece headwear is more of a Tom Ska fan.