As if to wink at audiences, directors will often appear in their own movies, with Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg known to have a hard time resisting the allure of the spotlight. These appearances can be mere fleeting visits, flying by in the background, or, for Tarantino, they can be complete scenes that, in most cases, are detrimental to the final quality of the film.
Spielberg, however, is known for his more stylish cameos, making a quick on-screen appearance before diving back behind the camera, or off set altogether. Over the years, he has appeared in movies like the Will Smith sci-fi movie. men in blackcreature-feature gremlins and even Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s alien comedy, Pablo, with the presence of Spielberg always attracting the eyes of moviegoers.
One of his best cameos came in the Cameron Crowe movie. vanilla skyHowever, when Spielberg approached Tom Cruise’s character and greeted him saying, “Happy birthday, motherfucker.” In a totally unexpected moment, Spielberg only agreed to do the scene because he was working with Cruise at the time on the adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s science fiction novel, minority report.
Crowe’s 2001 film was later compared to Spielberg’s best, not because he was in it, but because the fantasy drama brimmed with cinematic magic and genuine innovative imagination. Of course, Spielberg’s appearance in the actual film must have helped the film garner more attention, so as a token of his appreciation, Crowe returned the favor and agreed to appear in minority report like a man riding the subway.
Spielberg’s choice of Cameron Crowe as a background extra did not mark the first time the director would work with a fellow filmmaker, enlisting the help of French pioneer François Truffaut for the 1977 sci-fi flick. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Playing Claude Lacombe, a French government scientist, this was Truffaut’s only acting role in a film he did not direct, as well as his only role in an English-language film.
Using his spare time to write the script for The man who loved women, Truffaut impresses in the role, adding the drama and mystery of Spielberg’s 1977 classic.
Speaking about the French director’s influence, Spielberg told the American Film Institute, “It’s wonderful to work with Truffaut, it’s really amazing because he’s so simple, he’s as simple as his movies… I kept talking to Francois like he was more than the man who did jules and jim and he is not he is Jules”.
Continuing, he adds, “He’s a fantastic guy, he really is, he loves movies more than anyone I’ve ever met in my life. You can take all this new Hollywood shit and have us all sit in the room together and he locks us in, he knows more about movies than any of us.”