Are you good at spot the difference? Do you like a homage in a film and a little nod to the audience, as if to say “I know you’re watching and wow you are clever. Here’s a reward for being a smarty-pants.”? Well I will attempt to do something similar, or at least I can provide you with some ammunition next time you’re at a dinner party and somebody comes up with some smart-ass movie trivia.
What we’re looking at this time around is where a family member to a Hollywood superstar has made a cameo in a feature film, but without the fuss a Baldwin or Sheen might make. So did you spot these cameos in your favourite films…?
BLADE RUNNER (1982)
In the re-shot scenes for the 25th anniversary Final Cut Ridley Scott needed a close up of Deckard’s mouth, but instead of using an aged Harrison Ford, his lookalike (for the mouth anyway) son Ben Ford stepped in for an uncredited role. It’s uncanny. Ain’t that nice?
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)
Ah Red. We all love Red. And Morgan Freeman, because he is basically always going to be Red no matter what film you watch him in (Edit – except maybe Lucky Number Slevin – great film, check it out). It’s the greatest triumph-over-adversity story made all the more beautiful with the unlikely success of old Red’s redemption despite your initial feelings as to how he’ll fair once he escapes prison. The related cameo in this one is in the photo at the top of this article, it’s Red as a young man on his file from way back when he was first locked up. Did you know this is in fact a picture of Morgan Freeman’s son, Alfonso? He also later appeared in Seven (1995) and The Bucket List (2007) alongside his father.
Did you know for Maleficent, where Angelina Jolie plays the wicked witch in this Disney spin-off, that due to the scary nature of her costume it was down to her (and Brad Pitt’s) baby girl Vivienne to play the part of Princess Aurora. Oscar-winning stuff. Well kind of. Well not at all but she does a good job nonetheless.
GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)
Bill Murray at his very best? It’s certainly a film that appeals to the masses and another stellar comedy performance backed up by his older brother. You may well recognise his face, for this is not a one-off; Brian Doyle-Murray also appears in Caddyshack (1980), Ghostbusters II (1989) and in Scrooged (1988) where he actually plays his grumpy old man!
This iconic film opens in classic Scorcese fashion with a gruesome scene revolving around a dead body in the trunk of a car. It’s a cut from later in the movie but gives the audience a taste of what you’re letting yourself in for over the next 2 & a half hours. But what you might not expect is for when this scene reappears it is either side of an hilarious scene with one of the gang’s mothers, who insists on making the loveable but scary-as-hell mob some homecooked food despite their activities that night and still being covered in blood. The chemistry between Joe Pesci and his onscreen mom is quite brilliant, what’s astounding is that it is actually director Martin Scorcese’s mom who stepped into the role for her first speaking part (she did appear as an extra in Mean Streets and The King of Comedy).
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
Stanley Kubrick’s high concept, ground-breaking, cinematic classic about space, time and the meaning of life is an epic masterpiece and despite the usual intense commitment to his directorial project (which he also wrote and produced) he still managed to find time to sneak his daughter Vivian in for an uncredited role as Floyd’s daughter during an ahead-of-it’s-time FaceTime chat.
LORD OF THE RINGS (2001-2003) & THE HOBBIT (2012-2014) TRILOGIES
Given the sheer scale of these films and Peter Jackson’s emphasis on home-grown talent, the New Zealander was able to sneak more than just one family member into the various crowd scenes that exist in either the original or extended editions. The director himself actually appears in all 6 films in a variety of colourful characters from Middle Earth, playing a drunk villager, a soldier, he gets killed, played Samwise Gamgee’s arm, a dwarf and even modelled for a picture of Bilbo Baggins’ father Bungo for a framed picture inside Bag End. But he foolishly wasted his time talking mainly about his writing, producing and Oscar-winning directing credits.