Did you know Nashville resident Nicole Kidman once made a cameo in a standup special by a British comedian? If not, you aren’t alone. In the world of entertainment, it’s not uncommon for actors to slip onto a set and film a scene or two before going to lunch. What’s more, directors love to incorporate these appearances into their films as Easter eggs—little treats for the dedicated film-buff to find.
Sometimes, A-list actors lend a bit of their time to independent film makers, late night TV commercials, or anywhere that’s offbeat and bound to make the viewer do a double-take. Here’s a list of our favorite celebrity cameos.
Madonna in Die Another Day
Pop music icon Madonna wrote and performed the theme song to the 007 movie Die Another Day. Naturally, she wanted to be in the movie, too. The film’s director gave her the part of Bond’s fencing instructor. Although her time on screen is brief, it was quite a satisfying cameo for viewers who spotted it. Critics didn’t exactly love it, however, and found the singer’s appearance in the film to be gimmicky. But in a series as wacky and unpredictable as Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies, did they really expect any differently?
Danny Trejo’s Lawyer Commercial
World-renowned tough guy Danny Trejo treated fans to a surprise cameo in a TV ad for a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. Staring into the camera with his trademark grimace, Trejo makes some pretty menacing statements. “When the boogey man goes to sleep at night,” he says, “he checks under his bed for me.” He adds: “Have you ever wondered who Waldo is hiding from? Me.” In a brilliant twist, Trejo then plugs the law firm and the commercial ends—leaving viewers thinking ‘Did that really just happen?’
Stephen Colbert in The Hobbit
When political satirist Stephen Colbert announced he would appear in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, many fans dismissed it as a joke. But true to his word, Colbert did indeed appear briefly as an eye-patch wearing spy. At about an hour and fourteen minutes into the film, you can spot Colbert dressed in rags and holding a cat on his lap. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it appearance, but Colbert’s fans were nonetheless amused.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Epic Japanese Commercials
In addition to filming high-octane action movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger also devoted a bit of his time to shooting commercials in Japan. Like most Japanese media, the commercials were totally insane. One advert has him lifting a car with one hand before ravenously consuming a package of noodles. Another has him swinging massive teapots around his head and showing off his impressive physique, before once again eating a package of noodles.
In 2014, Schwarzenegger made his long-anticipated return to Japanese TV, filming a commercial for a coffee-flavored energy drink.
How I Met Your Mother’s Secret Guest Star
Talk show host Conan O’Brien won a charity drawing with a pretty cool prize—the winner got to be an extra on How I Met Your Mother. When the show’s producers found out who their high-profile contest winner was, they initially wanted to expand the role into a speaking part. Always a class act, O’Brien insisted he be treated like anybody else who could have won. And so, in the background of MaClaren’s pub, Conan O’Brien’s unmistakable figure sits up from his chair and walks out the door. Few viewers initially caught it, but it must have been satisfying for those who did.
There are, of course, many more great celebrity cameos that didn’t make our list. From Cate Blanchett in Hot Fuzz to Ron Jeremy in Ghostbusters, celebs love taking a break from serious work and making appearances in unusual places.