Nearly every film features scene-fillers who are there to be crowd members or other bystanders to the action. And while the viewer isn’t really supposed to notice them, occasionally one of those actors decides to leave their mark – and hilariously steals the show. Here are 20 of these bit-part legends who weren’t satisfied with simply blending into the background.
20. An underpowered ape
Planet of the Apes was a huge hit upon its release in 1968. In fact, the story of astronauts stranded on a curious version of Earth that’s ruled by apes made a splash both at the box office and with critics. In the sci-fi flick, Charlton Heston stars as George Taylor, who suffers many trials – not least a pounding by a pack of apes, who hurl whatever they have to hand at him.
And the apes – played by a mixture of stars of the film and extras – are quite enthusiastic as they pelt Heston. Except, that is, for one of the simians, who seems somewhat unhappy to have to make up the numbers. How so? Because she throws what looks like a rock so limply that it doesn’t even reach the cowering human.
19. “Keep very still, kids”
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t work with animals or children. And it seems that director Dan Rush took this advice very much to heart. In fact, when Rush helmed 2010’s Everything Must Go, starring Will Ferrell, he found an unorthodox way of ensuring that the on-set kids behaved.
In one of the comedy-drama’s scenes, we see Ferrell chatting with Laura Dern’s character, Delilah – and her children sitting very quietly in the background. Yet it’s only after watching the youngsters for a while that we notice just how tranquil they are. You see, it turns out that Rush didn’t bother with any little extras at all; the children visible are actually part of a painted backdrop.
18. Dunkirk was no laughing matter
In 1940 the Second World War seemed to be going very badly for the Allies, with British and French forces trapped in the town of Dunkirk. Amazingly, though, hundreds of thousands of soldiers made their escape as a fleet of hundreds of ships came to their rescue. And this stirring period made fine material for filmmaker Christopher Nolan in the 2017 movie Dunkirk.
In one somber scene, we see a landing craft jam-packed with soldiers whose heads are bowed in fear as an enemy bomber fast approaches. That is, all bar one man, who seems to think he is out on a fun cruise. Then, as a German aircraft attacks the troops, they duck for cover – and yet our guy seems to be no more than mildly amused by the impending doom.
17. Going out with a bang
When Vadim Yarullin got canned from his small part as a lion in a 2009 production of the ballet Scheherazade, you could say that he didn’t take the news well. In fact, it’s probably fair to suggest that Yarullin decided to go out not with a whimper – but with a lion-sized roar.
As one member of the chorus of animals posed behind the stars, Yarullin was presumably expected to avoid drawing too much attention to himself. But the performer had other ideas, it seems, and in one particular scene launched into an amazing disco-flavored dance routine. The leaping lion finally takes his leave in a whirl of motion that has the crowd – although possibly not the director – roaring in acclaim.
16. The cat’s not feline it
The James Bond film franchise is arguably as renowned for its villains as its protagonist. And a favorite Bond bad guy is Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who has featured in a total of eight of the movies. In earlier films, the criminal mastermind was infamous for never being shown in full – only being recognizable because of the distinctive cat that he carried with him everywhere. As a result, the evil character has actually been portrayed by around nine different actors.
However, in 1967’s You Only Live Twice, Blofeld, this time played by Donald Pleasance, does show his face – and so does his faithful feline. In one scene, though, said cat makes a dramatic bid for freedom, perhaps tired of being carried around. And while the moggy struggles to break out of the villain’s grasp, Pleasance seems entirely unperturbed, merely tightening his evil grip on the poor cat.
15. Playing the air broom
When Daniel Craig took over the mantle of James Bond in 2006, skeptics questioned whether or not his looks were right for the iconic part. But the blond Bond proved that he was more than up for the challenge. In fact, his movies are the franchise’s most commercially successful to date – and its most violent, too. It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that the action movies’ high energy levels may have gripped their extras as well.
Craig’s second film – and arguably his most action-packed – is 2008’s Quantum of Solace. During a particular scene at a dockside, an extra can be seen in the background sweeping. And that guy is doing it with some serious panache. However, a closer look reveals that there’s one problem with his otherwise laudable cleaning effort: his broom doesn’t ever touch the ground. Well, at least our man is making sure that the fresh air is completely dust free.
14. Bad guy gets a case of the wobbles
A lot of people, it seems, love superheroes – and Batman is no exception. The character features in The Dark Knight Rises – the 2012 outing that enamored critics and fans alike. And during the movie, Batman takes on villains with the aplomb that he’s famed for, creating a feast for the eyes.
However, Batman’s superhero duties are made significantly easier in one particular fight scene. As he and Catwoman take on a pack of attackers in a whirl of legs and arms, you see, one henchman appears to find all of the action a bit too much. And so, without anyone laying a finger on him – or even getting within a yard of him – the bad guy collapses to the ground dramatically.
13. Whoops, there go my pants
Comedy classic Teen Wolf divided opinions upon its release in 1985. While moviegoers flocked to see Michael J. Fox play werewolf basketball star Scott, and the movie raked in more than $80 million, critics were less entranced. In fact, the film garnered very mixed reviews, with many seemingly unmoved by its lashings of cheese and cheap laughs.
But whether you love it or loathe it, Teen Wolf undeniably packs plenty of energy. At Scott’s basketball games, for instance, we see the crowds go wild for his wolfy antics. However, in one scene, a particular bystander seems to have gone a little over the top with her enthusiasm. It turns out, in fact, that this extra is so overwhelmed by excitement and “Wolf Fever” that her pants have started to fall down.
12. Bathtime for doggo
Terry Gene Bollea – a.k.a. Hulk Hogan – is best known as a wrestler, although he has appeared in a few films. But unfortunately, not all of the WWF Champion’s flicks have earned critical acclaim. One of those is 1993 comedy Mr. Nanny, which was succinctly summed up by Wrestlecrap.com as a “disaster.” And Time Out magazine was no kinder, either, labeling the Hogan vehicle “excruciating.”
We’re not sure whether or not those damning appraisals took into account Mr. Nanny’s background moments, but one sequence certainly stands out. In it we see Hogan riding his motorcycle through various scenic backdrops, including woods, city streets and a beach. But it’s as he cruises alongside the ocean that an extra grabs our attention. Said man is, you see, curiously hurling a pooch into the water. What the doggo felt about its impromptu bath, we never find out, though, as Hogan simply powers on.
11. Small part steals the scene
Back to the Future Part III – which brought the iconic science-fiction series to a close – sees Michael J. Fox head to the 1880s Wild West. And given the trilogy’s huge success, you might expect that its filmmakers would have had keen eyes for the minutest of details. However, it seems that one unfortunate error slipped through during the editing process.
And responsible for said error is Dannel Evans, who appears in one scene as Verne, one of Doc’s kids. In his moment to shine, you see, the youngster signals to someone off camera and then points to his “small part.” Whatever message Evans was trying to convey remains a mystery, but he possibly didn’t impress onlooking casting directors with his curious “stunt.” After all, he only made one more film appearance after the 1990 hit.
10. Snapper’s serious acting
Beloved U.K. soap opera Coronation Street has featured plenty of drama since its inception back in 1960. And the show – lovingly called Corrie – has gained popularity not just in Britain, but also around the rest of world for its honest display of blue-collar life and colorful characters.
And with that pedigree, it’s arguably hard for a background actor to get any attention in a show like Corrie. But one extra did just that in her small role as a photographer. You see, during a scene in which Sair Khan’s character, Alya, speaks to the media about the demise of her partner, this particular extra shows a stunning lack of enthusiasm. So powerfully unmoved was this snapper, in fact, that thousands of viewers subsequently shared tweets suggesting that she be put forward for an Oscar.
9. Extras everywhere in Ghostbusters
In the hugely popular 1984 comedy Ghostbusters, a team of spook-snatchers headed up by Bill Murray help out their city in a time of paranormal peril. And after capturing the poltergeists and ending the supernatural menace, the gang win over the citizens of the town and are hailed as heroes.
And among the Ghostbusters’ fans, one in particular stands out. This extra pops up in several scenes, you see, and he’s not shy about showing his approval for the heroes of the day. In fact, the guy can be seen leaping and cheering with brilliant enthusiasm on more than one occasion – and seemingly doing his best to upstage Murray and the other ghoul hunters.
8. Kung fu kicks tickle ribs
Although he entered the world in San Francisco’s Chinatown, actor Bruce Lee is more renowned for his work in Hong Kong’s film industry. And he arguably reached his zenith in 1973’s Enter the Dragon, in which both his martial arts skills and his acting received critical acclaim.
However, not everyone is impressed by Lee, it seems. During one scene in the movie, the star is dispatching a string of fighters with kick-ass kung fu moves – but one extra appears not to have grasped the seriousness of his performance. In fact, this guy cannot stop giggling at Lee’s antics.
7. “That thing’s about to go off”
Having helmed more than 50 movies, it’s no surprise that horror director Alfred Hitchcock earned the accolade “Master of Suspense.” Hitchcock’s signature filming methods helped create tension and incite fright in viewers, who expect drama at any moment during his scary flicks. And North by Northwest is a typical example – producing, in the words of Time Out, “a hint of dread.”
That’s certainly evident in the 1959 film’s restaurant scene, in which Eva Marie Saint points a pistol at Cary Grant in a truly tense moment. That said, one small boy in the background perhaps ruins the suspense a bit. How so? Well, before Saint even pulls the trigger, the little guy has his fingers in his ears – a bit of a giveaway for what’s about to come.
6. That shark’s no laughing matter
In 1975’s Jaws, a great white shark terrorizes the fictional beachside town of Amity Island. Naturally, when the deadly beast appears in the waters offshore, it arouses enormous panic. And legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg captures the surprise and fear of the beachgoers perfectly as the monster fish looms.
However, not every onlooker appears to have understood the severity of the situation. One sun-loving dude, in fact, seems entirely unperturbed by the toothy terror. Visibly reveling in his small role, said extra appears smack in the middle of the camera shot, bursting with laughter and enjoying a great day out at the beach.
5. Scream goes on and on
Released in 1951, the Gary Cooper Western Distant Drums sees a group of soldiers fighting in the Everglades. For one of the army men in the background, though, the campaign against Spanish villains is cut abruptly short by the jaws of an alligator. And while his small part didn’t leave much of a legacy, his scream certainly did.
The scream in question was probably recorded for the movie by Sheb Wooley, who acted in several Westerns. However, the sound effect came to be known as the “Wilhelm Scream” – named after a character in a different cowboy film. And although the man who played Wilhelm, Ralph Brooke, has largely been forgotten, the scream has lived on, having been used by characters in multiple Hollywood films, including Star Wars. Our unfortunate alligator victim, though, is thought to have been the first.
4. Stormtrooper forgets to duck
The stormtroopers in the Star Wars franchise are the Empire’s armed forces. Clad all in white, they spread fear and fight the rebels wherever they may be. But the soldiers face severe punishments if they fail. Which makes it all the more amusing when one hits his head on a lintel as he passes through a door.
Filmmaker George Lucas clearly saw the funny side of the blooper. When making a special version of the film – the first in the Star Wars series – he overlaid a comical “thud” sound to make the moment even more obvious to anyone watching. What became of the hapless, head-banging stormtrooper, though, we may never know.
3. This’ll make your samurais water
In 2003’s The Last Samurai, Tom Cruise stars as a U.S. Cavalry captain who becomes involved with the Japanese samurai warriors. Unsurprisingly, Cruise does a fair bit of traveling around on horseback in the movie. And in one particular scene, we see the captain enter a samurai camp astride his mount.
But as Cruise pulls up in front of a line of soldiers, his horse decides that its moment to shine has arrived. Specifically, the steed lashes out with its back hoof and catches one of the extras in a place that you might expect would have left him crying in pain on the ground. However, this bit-part player is made of stern stuff – and dutifully keeps his place in line.
2. Beer can bullseye for Malkovitch
For Spike Jonze’s first attempt at directing a film, Being John Malkovitch proved a great effort. In fact, Jonze was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the whacky drama. And he wasn’t alone in gaining acclaim, either, with Charlie Kaufman also getting a nod for his first filmed script.
However, one little piece of the action catches the eye in particular – and it’s presumably one that Kaufman didn’t write. An extra, perhaps bored after a long day’s work, can be seen hurling a beer can at John Malkovich, who then takes an unscripted belt to the head. But Jonze must have enjoyed the unexpected moment, since it made the final cut; you can see it in the 1999 film.
1. Rising above The Room
Since its 2003 release, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has gathered a loyal cult following – for all the wrong reasons. It’s regarded as one of the all-time worst films, you see, with some of its actors also joining the chorus of disapproval. Star Greg Sestero even wrote an award-winning book, The Disaster Artist, about making the terrible movie.
It’s perhaps little surprise, then, that one or two errors slipped through The Room’s editing process. One such missed mistake involves an extra who is clearly determined that her own performance will be superb. And seemingly nothing will stop her from shining – not even the lack of an acting partner. She does what anyone would do, then, and imagines a person with which to converse. That’s right: in one scene, she can actually be spotted behind Wiseau, enjoying a lively chat with, you guessed it, nobody at all.