Why was DeNiro uncredited in American Hustle?

It was more than a cameo. He’s in only one scene, but it’s a fairly pivotal scene.

One possible reason I can think of is that Russell didn’t want anybody coming into the theater expecting a “DeNiro movie.” But surely he had enough control over the advertising and press to keep that from happening anyway, and I don’t see how scrolling Bob’s name in the end credits would have changed anything in that regard.

And not just in this case, but other stars have appeared in movies without credit before. If it’s a surprise cameo that would amount to a spoiler if known in advance (Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise in 21 Jump Street, for example) I can see the reasoning, but otherwise, what’s the point?

Did he? He was just the director, and not even a producer. I doubt he had any control of the film’s marketing whatsoever.

Possibly not, I suppose. But he’s a big-time director now. I’m sure he could have had a contractual clause that said “don’t put DeNiro in any advertising” if he wanted to. And even if not, would omitting his credit have accomplished this anyway?

I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some actor’s union rule states that uncredited actors’ names can’t be used in advertising.

I haven’t seen the movie, but could it have been DeNiro’s request? Kevin Spacey was left out of the credits for Se7en. From its trivia page on IMDB:

The producers intended that Kevin Spacey should receive top billing at the start of the movie but he insisted that his name not appear in the opening credits, so as to surprise the audience with the identity of the killer. To compensate, he is listed twice in the closing credits: once before the credits start rolling, and once in the rolling credits in order of appearance. Another advantage from Spacey’s point of view, as he saw it, was that he was excluded from the film’s marketing during its release, meaning he didn’t have to make any public appearances or do any interviews.

From time to time, the uncredited actor is used to generate word-of-mouth about a movie.

I remember 30 years ago, Tootsie featured Bill Murray, who was in at least half-a-dozen scene as Hoffman’s roomie. Even though Murray was one of the hottest properties out there, he was uncredited, and everyone who saw the movie in it’s opening week was talking about it.

Not sure how effective it is today, but in 1983, it worked pretty well.

This question comes up from time to time here and the answer is the same: The reason for an uncredited noncameo appearance has to do with negotiating their fee for other movies.

If the actor is credited in a small role (for a small fee), producers would say, “Why should be pay you five million for our film? In <small indie film> you only got scale.”

If the actor is not credited, it’s treated as though he wasn’t in the film. And the argument would be “Since I wasn’t credited, my name wasn’t used to promote the film.* Now my name will be used and thus it will draw more people and I deserve my fee.”

This is almost always the reason for an uncredited role: Bill Murray didn’t take the credit for Tootsie because it would have hurt his negotiations for his next film.

DeNiro probably did the same thing. For actors, their name is their brand, and they don’t want to hurt their brand by using it for small films that would hurt their negotiating position.

Note that cameos – where the actor shows up so people can say “Look, it’s him!” – don’t have an effect on negitations.
*I know, but welcome to the world of contract negotiations.

Hijack: Most of the characters in the movie are clearly meant to represent real people involved in Abscam.

But Teleggio, the mobster played by DeNiro… was he supposed to be a specific real-life Mafioso?

Here is David O Russell talking about it.

“Certain things are dreams, and you think wouldn’t it be great. It may not happen, but maybe it will happen,” Russell said of early discussions about casting De Niro in the pithy cameo role. “Let’s at least talk to him about it. At the very least it inspires a creative conversation that’s going to cause me to write a really good character.

“I did that with everybody,” he said. “I feel I’m auditioning with all of my actors when I go to their homes and we talk about the characters. It inspires me to create and deliver for them the richest character with the broadest range of human behavior, that’s a person that you’re going to remember. So I leave their house and I write some scenes, and I did that with each of them.

“So De Niro is extremely meticulous when he’s really passionate about something, and we had endless conversations,” Russell said. “He loved that this (Miami mobster) spoke Arabic – which happens to be one of the true things in this story, which is crazier than fiction. There was a mobster that spoke Arabic and flummoxed this group of FBI operatives. I think it might have been Bob’s idea to be uncredited. I think he just preferred to be a secret surprise in the movie.”

It makes a big star look generous if he is uncredited in a small role in a film. What the star is saying is “Hey, I don’t need to have a big role in every film I do, nor do I need to be credited. I make plenty from the lead roles that I do. Every once in a while, just because I’m friends with the actors, the director, or the screenwriter or just because I thought it was a neat script, I can do an interesting small role for little money and no onscreen credit. I’m a nice guy and I can do something purely as a favor, since I’m already rich. I don’t have to prove anything.”

My understanding is that it means he worked for scale, isn’t under contract for any promotional purposes, and generally has the appearance that he did the role as a favor/ show of support for the project. Some high-profile actors will have a “standard” billing as well as salary that is demanded for any role - say, no shared cards, only single cards, “special guest” status, etc. He can do small projects on the side without affecting his standard going rate/billing which keeps his agent happy.