Cameo (media)

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Alfred Hitchcock's cameos are very popular with audiences.

A cameo [ ˈkæmioʊ ] (also cameo ) is the often surprising, brief appearance of a well-known person in a film , a series, as a character in a comic, a computer game or in a fictional literary work. Often times, the person concerned is not mentioned in the commercials for the film or in the opening credits, but occasionally in the credits. There is no uniform and exact definition of what is mentioned in the opening and closing credits or the length and scope of the role.

The term comes from English and means a cameo ( English cameo ), that is a relief on a gemstone. If a prominent person appears, you can recognize him immediately - like the cameo. The American film producer Michael Todd , who placed 48 cameos in his film Around the World in 80 Days (1956), is said to have coined the term.

Manifestations in the film

There are different manifestations of a cameo. In one form, a celebrity mingles with the extras . He does not aim to be recognized and does not play an individual role. Usually it is directors , authors or producers who choose this short and inconspicuous appearance in "their" film.

In another form, a celebrity has a small but full speaking role. In some cases he appears as "himself", albeit occasionally in disguise. The appearance of the celebrity can have various reasons, for example as a favor for those involved in the film and the celebrity's upgrading of the film, as an homage to earlier parts of the film or in the case of a remake of the original. People who served as models or inspiration for characters from the film appear in mini roles.

If the celebrity is not mentioned in the opening and closing credits, this can have various reasons. For example, directors or writers may not see themselves as actors, or the presence of the celebrity may be a special surprise.

Examples from film history

In connection with the term, the director Alfred Hitchcock should be mentioned in particular , who first appeared on the screen in 1927 in his film The Tenant . The original reason for Hitchcock's performance was purposeful. Since extras were missing in some scenes of his first films , he mixed with parts of the film crew with the existing crowd. The emergency soon turned into a trademark that he found a chore in later years: so that the actual plot did not fade into the background in anticipation of Hitchcock's appearance, the director appeared on the scene as early as possible (see also the list of all Hitchcock's Cameos ).

The short appearance of the producer or director is not limited to pure entertainment films. In the German auteur cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder in particular showed himself in his films as an extra or extra, for example in Maria Braun's marriage in a scene as a black market trader. In his road movie In July , Fatih Akin appears as a Romanian customs officer. The Danish film director Lars von Trier went a bit further in his ghost epic Riget and appeared during the credits to give a brief summary of what he had just experienced. He concluded this by introducing himself verbally to the audience. Today, Quentin Tarantino , Lucio Fulci , Stephen King , Enzo G. Castellari , M. Night Shyamalan , Stan Lee and Peter Jackson are known for short mini-roles mostly in their own films.

In addition to the appearance of those involved in the production, there are often cameos from the original creators of the filmed material. For example, Erich Kästner was often briefly seen in the film adaptations of his children's books, for example in Emil and the detectives as a passenger on the tram. Helmut Käutner appeared briefly in almost all of his films and also mostly had a minor role for his wife Erica Balqué. The Great Star Parade , a hit film from 1954, contained a particularly large number of cameos . Stan Lee , creator of many of the Marvel comic heroes, also appeared in mini-roles in many of his characters, and he is usually named in the credits.

In addition, there are often cameos in which previous actors of a character appear in mini-roles in a re-adaptation in the form of new films or television series. For example Kevin McCarthy in Die Körperfresser Come (1978), Jaclyn Smith in 3 Angels for Charlie - Full Power (2003) or Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul in Starsky & Hutch (2004). In the film The Prince of Zamunda with Eddie Murphy , Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy can be seen as beggars shortly before the end , whereby the characters come from the previous film The Soldiers of Fortune .

Another category of cameos is the appearance of real personalities who served as models or inspiration for characters in the implemented work. An example of such a cameo is the appearance of the real Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell as captain of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima at the end of the film Apollo 13 . He shakes the hand of the film Lovell Tom Hanks on a successful homecoming. Other such examples are the appearance of the real Frank Abagnale in the film adaptation of his autobiography Catch Me If You Can as one of the arresting police officers or the appearance of the real Erin Brockovich in the film about her life named after her in which she is in a scene a waitress named Julia ( Julia Roberts plays Erin Brockovich in this film) embodies in the restaurant, as well as the final scene of the Will Smith film The Pursuit of Happiness , in which Chris Gardner - model for the film character of the same name - walks through the picture as a passer-by.

Examples from literary works

Erich Kästner signed up for Emil und die Detektiven himself in 1929, and in one scene he appears in his original job as a newspaper journalist. Even Wolfgang Herrendorf has in 2014 posthumously published novel pictures of your great love written a cameo, as a man in a green track jacket that explains the protagonist Isa, what's with the stones on Jewish grave stones on it. Herrndorf often wore this jacket himself.

In the short story Save the Reaper (1998) by Alice Munro, there is a cameo by Harold Pinter in fictional form , when during the scene in a dilapidated dwelling with drunk men the reflective ability of the protagonist Eve is described thanks to literature reading and stage experience, where it says: “She thought about how she would describe it all - she would say it was like she had suddenly found herself in the middle of a piece by Pinter. Or like her worst nightmares of a stubborn, hostile audience. ”Munro gave the boss in the dwelling the first name of the playwright and Nobel Prize colleague: Harold.

In Patrick Modiano's novel Grasses of the Night of 2012 (German 2014) the writer Jacques Audiberti (1899–1965) has a cameo. He is connected to the other characters in that "Dannie" is the title of one of his poems and Modiano also gave the main female character this name.

In his novel The Museum of Innocence (2008), the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk not only depicts autobiographical scenes. He has the main character Kemal ask a writer Orhan Pamuk to describe Kemal's experiences.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Cameo appearances in computer games , accessed on September 22, 2010
  2. a b Gerrit Bartels: I'll be old soon. In: Der Tagesspiegel from November 7, 2014.
  3. Brenda Maddox: Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor? A Myth of Our Time. Evans, 1977, ISBN 0-87131-243-3 , p. 124.
  4. Starsky & Hutch (2004) - the film on IMDB
  5. Apollo 13 - the film at IMDB .
  6. ^ German translation by Heidi Zerning. The English-language original reads: she was thinking how she would describe this - she'd say it was like finding yourself in the middle of a Pinter play. Or like all her nightmares of a stolid, silent, hostile audience.