Major Stars With Minor Roles More Memorable Than The Movie

Maybe some stars just have too much “personality” to take on an entire movie. Some famous people are often better off in short doses, given only a minimal amount of screen time to showcase their talents. As for major actors (as opposed to musicians turned actors for the right price) in a brief cameo, they, too, must work with the precious few moments they have to make a lasting impression on the audience. What follows are the best examples of this.

Anita Ekberg is the most classic instance of making the most of her screen time
Anita Ekberg is the most classic instance of making the most of her screen time
Anita Ekberg, La Dolce Vita: Even if you haven’t seen La Dolce Vita, everyone knows it merely because of Anita Ekberg’s iconic dance in the Fontana di Trevi in Rome. Her playfulness, sensuality and whimsicality easily make her the most memorable part of the film.
Anita Ekberg as "difficult" actress Sylvia in La Dolce VIta
Anita Ekberg as “difficult” actress Sylvia in La Dolce VIta
David Bowie, The Prestige: Some people will try to argue that his best cameo was in Zoolander or even Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, but no, making an entrance through bolts of electric energy as he crosses over to meet with a magician named Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), Bowie stands out as the enigma/epitome of a badass that he is. Perhaps if The Illusionist, another magician movie that also came out in 2006, had such a cameo, it would have fared as well critically and commercially.
David Bowie walking through electricity
David Bowie walking through electricity
Harry Dean Stanton, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me: Generally hated by its audience because of how nebulous it is with regard to clarifying what the fuck happened to Agent Cooper at the end of the series, Harry Dean Stanton’s role as Carl, the owner of a trailer park, in and of itself an automatically amazing role, may have been the primary redeeming factor of Fire Walk With Me. When Agent Cooper goes to investigate Carl’s trailer park for a potential lead, he apologizes, “Sorry to wake you up.” Carl replies, “I was having a bad dream anyway.”
Harry Dean Stanton as Carl in Fire Walk With Me
Harry Dean Stanton as Carl in Fire Walk With Me
Drew Barrymore, Scream: Not just a famed film for its modernization of the horror genre, Wes Craven’s pièce de résistance is best known for Drew Barrymore’s appearance at the beginning of the movie as Casey Becker, an initially confident, aloof high school student who is rudely awakened by a persistent caller who she eventually learns is right outside her house. Plus, her cameo generated one of the greatest movie lines of all time: “What’s your favorite scary movie?”
The most memorable scene of Scream takes place at the beginning
The most memorable scene of Scream takes place at the beginning
Madonna, Die Another Day: As one of the most forgettable Bond movies apart from Halle Berry in a bikini, Die Another Day‘s only other notable aspect was Madonna’s appearance as a fencing instructor named, of all things, Verity.
Madonna as Verity in Die Another Day
Madonna as Verity in Die Another Day
Quentin Tarantino, Desperado: Released in 1995 as part of Robert Rodriguez’s Mexico trilogy, Quentin Tarantino’s (who is in no short supply of great cameo appearances) bizarre joke about a man who bets a bartender he can piss into a cup from an unrealistic amount of distance is easily as worthwhile as Cheech Martin playing the bartender he tells the joke to.
Tarantino in Desperado
Tarantino in Desperado
Johnny Depp, 21 Jump Street: Although 21 Jump Street stands on its own as one of the better comedies in recent years, Johnny Depp getting his cover blown and then his brains blown out because of Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) is an essential part of the movie’s denouement.
Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street
Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street
Natalie Portman, Hotel Chevalier/The Darjeeling Limited: Wes Anderson never fails when it comes to making a movie you want to watch more than once. But there’s something about The Darjeeling Limited that makes it seem somehow like a shadow of his other work. Luckily, a bruised Natalie Portman arrives at the intro to the film in a short piece entitled Hotel Chevalier. Her bruised body and neurotic mind make for one of the most interesting portions of the movie.
Natalie Portman's ass in Hotel Chevalier
Natalie Portman’s ass in Hotel Chevalier
Orson Welles, The Muppet Movie: Digging Orson Welles up in 1979 wasn’t easy, but somehow Jim Henson and director James Frawley managed to get him to play the cliche role of a studio boss.
Orson Welles, looking slightly worse for the wear in The Muppet Movie
Orson Welles, looking slightly worse for the wear in The Muppet Movie
Keith Richards, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End: By the third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, it seemed clear that Jerry Bruckheimer was trying his best to pull out all the stops in order to secure his movie’s box office success–and Keith Richards was obviously one of those stops.
Keith Richards, looking not all that different than usual as a pirate
Keith Richards, looking not all that different than usual as a pirate
While there are countless other notable appearances from big names in a small role, the above have a special place in the annals of film history in terms of being as insane and/or nonsensical as possible.