When a person who’s known for something other than acting is given a small role or brief cameo in a movie, the expectations aren’t all that high. But sometimes, out of the blue, a non-actor delivers a knockout performance that outshines all of the fancy thespians in their midst. From sports stars to musicians to relatives of the filmmakers, these are the folks from outside the film industry who managed to make movie history.
- Photo: Paramount Pictures
Wayne’s World was a massive success as far as movies based on Saturday Night Live skits go, even surprising critic Roger Ebert with its “genuinely amusing, sometimes even intelligent, undercurrent.”
Another surprise was the cameo by rocker Alice Cooper, in which he gives an impressively scholarly lesson on the history of Milwaukee while in full makeup. Whether it was more surprising and/or impressive than his skill on the golf course is a subjective matter.
- Age: 72
- Birthplace: Area code 313, Metro Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, Contiguous United States
- Photo: New Line Cinema
The Wedding Singer ranks high on the long list of Adam Sandler comedies, in no small part because of clever moments like the climactic scene on the airplane in which '80s rocker Billy Idol (who just so happens to be on the flight, kicking back and guzzling champagne) hilariously interjects himself into the main character’s love life.
If you’re wondering why he agreed to be in the movie in the first place, he revealed his reason in an interview: “My son loved Adam Sandler and I thought: ‘I’m going to have to see it anyway, so why not be in it?’”
- Age: 64
- Birthplace: Stanmore, United Kingdom
- Photo: Columbia Pictures
The most memorable line from the 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally came after Meg Ryan made a bunch of orgasmic noises in a crowded restaurant and an older woman reacted by saying, “I’ll have what she’s having.” If you’ve never thought of that moment as being a little awkward, that’s probably because you didn’t realize that the older woman in question was director Rob Reiner’s mother, Estelle, who was present on set for each take as her son urged Ryan to give the performance “More, aaauuuuhhnnnnnn!”
Uncomfortable as it may have been, Reiner went on to reveal that his mom’s line got “the biggest laugh in any movie I’ve ever been involved with.”
- Age: Dec. at 94 (1914-2008)
- Birthplace: New York City, USA, New York
- Photo: Warner Bros.
Director Martin Scorsese has made a lot of movies about tough guys, but deep down, he’s a mama’s boy at heart. He put his mother Catherine (who passed away in 1997) in a number of his films.
Most notably, she played the stereotypical doting Italian mom of Joe Pesci’s maniac mobster Tommy in Goodfellas - a role in which she was completely believable because, well, that’s precisely who she was (minus the mobster part). Her authenticity led to her basically playing herself in other films in which her son wasn’t even involved, like The Godfather Part III and The Muppets Take Manhattan.
- Age: Dec. at 85 (1912-1997)
- Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America