I know that there are “no small parts, only small actors” (odd that they don’t all pay the same, then) and that Dame Judi Dench received an Oscar for her 8 minute cameo in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, but I’m sometimes shocked when I see a performer that I know is talented take a role that wouldn’t even qualify as a cameo. I wonder sometimes if it’s because they need work or if it’s quick and easy money or if it’s to keep their union membership/health insurance or exactly why.
The opening scene of GOSFORD PARK features Maggie Smith’s butler for about 10 seconds. His only line, not at all memorable, is something to the effect of “the car is here milady” and you only see his face if you use the DVD zoom key. However, he’s played by Frank Thornton, a fairly major TV star in UK not too long ago when he was Captain Peacock on the PBS staple “Are You Being Served?”.
In a recent episode of FRASIER, Queer as Folk star Hal Sparks, who has quelle mondo screentime and plotlines on QaF, had essentially an extra’s role as the desk clerk at a spa. It can’t be called a cameo because he was online less than a minute and wasn’t the focus of the show, yet it was clearly Hal Sparks.
A couple of years ago I was watching the pilot episode of a thankfully shortlived and absolutely dreadful sit-com in which the main character was a genie (or more specifically a jinn- looked like a younger and less dead Doug Hening) who is unleashed by a woman buying a used rug. The junk dealer she buys the rug from, on screen for only a moment, was John Rhys Davies. While admittedly he’s one of the regents of the "John Houseman ‘Anything for a Buck’ School of Acting, it was incredible seeing a man who appeared in large character roles in several blockbusters slumming in a genie show (only about two notches above porn).
While these aren’t “degrading” roles like those in other threads, they do make me wonder why they took them. None of these people could exactly have bought a house or even a sofa on what they were paid for these roles.
Who are some actors you’ve seen in similar roles?