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20 Best Uncredited Movie Performances of All Time


Going the extra mile doesn’t always receive the due credit it’s earned. There are folks in any industry who have vocalized the same complaint, many rightly so. But things aren’t always as simple as they appear, at least in the film industry. In fact, sometimes it’s the actor themselves who requests to be excluded from the credits. But, why? Well, the reasons vary.




And, of course, it’s not always the actor’s idea. Sometimes it’s the director or someone with similar power who comes up with the idea and the actor agrees. Regardless of circumstance, what follows are the films that feature an uncredited performance from a major actor (or, perhaps, two). Note that cameo roles where the performer does not speak were immediately excluded from consideration, as were roles that were more of a goof than anything else, as opposed to having some sort of sway or impact on the film’s protagonist and/or their journey.


20 Gene Hackman – Young Frankenstein (1974)


When Gene Wilder was working on the classic horror comedyYoung Frankenstein he must have been pretty excited, because he talked about it with his tennis buddies. Like Gene Hackman, for instance, the cinematic legend of Unforgiven, The French Connection, and The Royal Tenenbaums fame.

Why Was Hackman an Unexpected Inclusion?

Wanting to dip his toes in the world of comedy, Hackman requested and received a role. And, that’s what made it so unexpected, he was dipping his toes in a genre with which he was entirely unfamiliar. Stream Young Frankenstein on DIRECTV.

19 James Earl Jones – Star Wars: Episode IV − A New Hope (1977)


Widely and deservedly heralded as not only one of the most entertaining and well-constructed films of all time but one of the most important in the industry’s history to boot, George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode IV − A New Hope was a major trendsetter. And, at the time, save for Peter Cushing, James Earl Jones was basically the film’s biggest star. His debut was in Dr. Strangelove 13 years earlier, after all. But, when first released (he’s been credited in all the reissues), Jones was not a credited member of A New Hope‘s production. Nor was he, at first, credited on The Empire Strikes Back.

Whose Call Was It?

The call was Jones’. Since he was sharing the role with David Prowse, the man in all the Darth Vader garb, Jones felt it fair for the man who is physically portraying the individual to get that credit. But, starting in 1983, Jones was added to A New Hope‘s credits. Stream Star Wars: A New Hope on Disney+.


18 Kathleen Turner – Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Steven Spielberg has had a few proteges over the years, and Robert Zemeckis is often termed the best. And that’s a fair title, not only because Back to the Future must naturally be considered, but also 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit. At the very least, it’s a film that pushed the industry forward, and its merging of cartoon characters and sequences with live-action ones is Zemeckis’ best tampering with merging tech and humanity. Go too far and one gets the Uncanny Valley of Beowulf and The Polar Express.


Why Did She Go Uncredited?

Technically, both performers behind Jessica Rabbit went uncredited. That includes Kathleen Turner as her speaking voice and Carrie‘s Amy Irving as her singing voice. Why did Turner do it sans credit? A favor to director Robert Zemeckis, with whom she had already worked on Romancing the Stone. Stream Who Framed Roger Rabbit on Disney+

17 Glenn Close – Hook (1991)


Is Hook quite possibly the least effective film Steven Spielberg has made? Yes, it is. But, is it well-produced, star-studded, and intermittently entertaining? Sure is. Not to mention, there’s also a cameo from a certain Fatal Attraction star.

What Made Glenn Close’s Inclusion Special?

Glenn Close was basically at the top of the world in 1991. To get her for a cameo in Hook wasn’t small bananas. For her to unrecognizably play a male pirate? That’s just flat-out fun to try and spot. Stream Hook on Hulu.

Hook

Release Date
April 10, 1991

Director
Steven Spielberg

Runtime
144

16 Sean Connery – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)


Sean Connery doesn’t come in until the end of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, but he’s there. He plays King Richards, who more or less exists to congratulate Robin on his good deeds.

Why Did Connery Go Sans Credit?

It was basically so that the audience wasn’t sitting throughout the entire movie waiting for the 007 vet to show up. And, furthermore, Connery reduced his $1 million fee down to a quarter of that, which he then donated to charity. For all intents and purposes, Connery wasn’t in this big-budget Robin Hood. Rent Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on Prime Video.

RELATED: Christian Slater Got Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Flashbacks While Starring in Willow


15 Dan Aykroyd (as Ghostbusters’ Ray Stantz) – Casper (1995)

Casper the Friendly Ghost’s first movie was a major box office success, and it didn’t do half bad with critics, either. Casper was a financial success, and a big part of that was the fact that the movie is smart. Particularly when it comes to pop-cultural awareness.

What Makes it a Pop-Cultural Joy?

It’s also a movie loaded with cameos. There’s a slew of them in a mirror scene, including Clint Eastwood and Rodney Dangerfield. But, without a doubt, the best of the bunch is Dan Aykroyd reprising his role from Ghostbusters. It advances the plot and gives fans of that film a solid belly laugh when his Stantz outright admits he can’t handle these three particular ghosts. Rent Casper on Amazon Video.


Casper

Casper

Release Date
May 26, 1995

Director
Brad Silberling

Runtime
100

14 Henry Winkler – Scream (1996)

Not just one of the best horror films to come from the ’90s, Wes Craven’s Scream is one of the top horror movies of all time. That’s no small compliment, nor is the one that, in spite of technology advancements, the original film still holds its full impact. It places the viewer in the town of Woodsboro, where everyone is likable…and, jarringly enough, that includes the killers. And, if one’s casting a town of likable (or seemingly likable) individuals, who better to cast than Henry Winkler?


Ever the Gentleman

Why did Winkler request his role go uncredited? Because he’s lovely. He wanted it to be about the up-and-coming stars, not having his Happy Days‘ namesake serve as a selling point over their work and the strength of the film as a whole. Rent Scream (1996) on Prime Video.

scream

Scream

Release Date
December 20, 1996

Runtime
111

RELATED: 20 Classic Horror Movies Referenced in the Original Scream

13 Christian Slater – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)


A minor hit that led the way to two major ones, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, is nonetheless the absolute best of its trilogy. It’s still scatological, sure, but not to an overwhelming extent. In other words, this is one spy spoof with a smart script. And, as it turns out, an uncredited performance.

Who Was the Uncredited Performer?

Who provides that uncredited performance? None other than Christian Slater, one of ’90s Hollywood’s favorites. And, thankfully, an actor who is in the midst of a comeback. Note that both Tom Arnold and Carrie Fisher are also uncredited in this film. Rent Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery on Prime Video.


12 Gary Oldman – Hannibal (2001)

It was a risky task to follow up the success of Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs but, financially, at least, Ridley Scott’s Hannibal succeeded with flying colors. Quality wise? Not so much. Yet there are things about the film that work for it, including the performances by Anthony Hopkins, the late Ray Liotta, and, especially, an uncredited Gary Oldman as one of Hannibal Lecter’s past… acquaintances.

Talk About Unrecognizable

Oldman’s unrecognizable performance as Verger was, unfortunately, more about money and billing than anything else. Oldman wanted his name on the poster, but he was denied that. Odd, considering he absolutely should have had his name beside both Julianne Moore and Hopkins. Stream Hannibal for free with ads on Tubi TV.


Hannibal

Hannibal

Release Date
February 9, 2001

Runtime
2hr 11min

RELATED: Every Movie & TV Show in the Hannibal Lecter Franchise, Ranked

11 Brad Pitt & Matt Damon – Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)

George Clooney’s directorial debut is arguably still his best film. At the very least, it’s his most well-cast, and that includes two of his co-stars from the previous year’s Ocean’s Eleven. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is the quasi-true story of Chuck Barris, game show host and, though never confirmed, tool of the CIA.


What Makes it a Hilarious One-Two-Punch of a Cameo?

This is really the closest thing to a cameo on this list. But, when it’s Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, it’s a cameo worth including. They pop up during an episode of The Dating Game, and while they don’t necessarily sway the direction of the plot, their presence makes for one of the film’s most memorable gags. Stream Confessions of a Dangerous Mind on Showtime.

10 Jason Statham – Collateral (2004)

One of several masterpieces from Michael Mann, Collateral features both a bit of uncredited casting and a bit of stunt casting. On the latter front, there’s Tom Cruise playing an assassin (who holds a cabby hostage until his night’s work is done). On the former, there’s Jason Statham.


In Collateral, the character played by Statham is simply named Airport Man. But, in reality, Airport Man is The Transporter‘s Frank Martin. After all, this was confirmed by Collateral‘s screenwriter, Stuart Beattie (via Collider). Stream Collateral on Fubo TV.

Collateral

Collateral

Release Date
August 4, 2004

Runtime
119

9 David Hyde Pierce – Hellboy (2004)


Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy is easily one of the best non-Marvel or DC superhero movies out there. It respects the source material yet doesn’t forget to make itself accessible on a macro scale, which is something that certainly couldn’t have been said about the failed 2019 reboot. And, for fans of the show Frasier, it contained an extra special treat in the form of David Hyde Pierce’s unmistakable voice bringing life to the character of Abe Sapien.

Why Did Pierce Go Uncredited?

Like some other entries on this list, Pierce going uncredited was a matter of honor on his part. He felt that the character’s physical performer, the great Doug Jones, was deserving of the lion’s share of credit in bringing this gill man to life. Stream Hellboy on Hoopla.

hellboy

Hellboy

Release Date
April 2, 2004

Runtime
122


8 Edward Norton – Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Not many movies have legitimately benefited from Directors Cuts, but Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven is surely one of them. This lengthy, elaborate tale of a blacksmith who enters a massive conflict between Christians and Muslims is a gorgeously-crafted and well-acted period piece, and one of the better entries in Scott’s latter period filmography.

Who Was the Uncredited Performer, and Why Did Things Shake Out That Way?

The uncredited performer bringing the role of King Baldwin to (short) life was none other than Edward Norton. Why was he uncredited? By the Glass Onion star’s own request, as his face is covered by a mask throughout the entirety of his performance (there’s one shot of Baldwin’s face after he has died). Stream Kingdom of Heaven on Starz.


7 Will Ferrell – Wedding Crashers (2005)

One of the aughts’ best comedies, Wedding Crashers, is also one of the most star-studded. And that’s before the decade’s biggest comedy star, Will Ferrell, was factored in.

We Should Judge This Reinhold

This tale of two immature adults just on the verge of finding love doesn’t feature Ferrell throughout the majority, but his role is pretty sizable. His character, Chazz Reinhold (amazing name), the man who created all of these silly rules for wedding crashing, directly influences the narrative’s trajectory. And, as the funeral scene proves, it’s also hilariously perfect casting. Stream Wedding Crashers on Max.


6 Owen Wilson – Night at the Museum (2006)

Night at the Museum was written by Reno 911!‘s Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, and their lighthearted tone bleeds through at every turn. Though, of course, it’s not as crass as that Comedy Central (then MTV) show. It also gave Ben Stiller another great lead role, so, of course, his old pal Owen Wilson came along for the ride.


Why Was Wilson’s Role Deemed a Cameo?

Originally, Wilson’s role as Jedediah the lovable cowboy was supposed to be a cameo. But, Stiller and Wilson’s chemistry is always dynamite, so Wilson’s role was expanded. This means not only in the first film, but the two theatrical sequels, as well. Stream Night at the Museum on Disney+.

5 Natalie Portman – The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited may feature one of Adrien Brody’s best performances, but that’s not the one that’s uncredited. It’s Natalie Portman‘s. Which is odd because, technically, she’s not actually in The Darjeeling Limited itself…she’s in its prologue: Hotel Chevalier.


A Strong Cameo in a Possibly Weaker Movie

Hotel Chevalier is the far more palatable version of the hard-to-stomach Darjeeling. It doesn’t give the audience enough time to dislike the leads, the way Darjeeling does with its central trio. Portman brings such passion to the role of Rhett that one gets a sense of why Jason Schwartzman’s Jack is such a sad sack throughout the film. Rent The Darjeeling Limited on Prime Video.

4 Tom Cruise – Tropic Thunder (2008)


Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder is like all hard-hitting satires in that it hasn’t aged perfectly. But, it wouldn’t be the biting bit of humor it is were it to age well. If anything, that would show that this parody of Hollywood’s history with war films didn’t accomplish its mission.

What Makes It the Most Hilarious Uncredited Performance?

The fact that Tom Cruise is wearing a fat suit and a bald cap is reason enough to watch Tropic Thunder. Name another A-lister who is as protective of their image. You can’t, but that’s the bravery of Cruise…you can be the planet’s biggest star for literal decades and the one time you actually toy with that image you find yourself expanding it instead of constricting or diminishing it. Stream Tropic Thunder on Showtime.


3 Jim Parsons – The Muppets (2011)

What a treat 2011’s The Muppets was. A passion project for Jason Segel, this film is an absolute joy from front to back, which is just how it’s loaded with stars. There’s never a dull moment, like the final musical number where The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons steps in for the protagonist Muppet Walter.

What Makes it a Perfect Uncredited Casting?

Walter loves the world and the people within it. He doesn’t have a bad word to say about anybody. Who better than Jim Parsons to fill an unfelted version of that role? Stream The Muppets on Disney+.

2 Robert De Niro – American Hustle (2013)


David O. Russell’s American Hustle deserved much of its clout come Oscar season in 2014, but it’s still pretty darn overrated. The entertaining rendition of the true story behind ABSCAM has some stuff to say, but doesn’t really hit the bar of intensity it should. It’s not a nail-biter so much as it’s a character-focused piece, and the characters aren’t that engrossing.

Wait… Who Went Uncredited?

According to IndieWire, Robert De Niro accepted the role because he liked the concept of portraying a mobster who speaks Arabic. Plus, he had already worked with Russell on Silver Linings Playbook. But, yes, De Niro is uncredited as Victor Tellegio in American Hustle. Stream American Hustle on Showtime.


1 Matt Damon – Interstellar (2014)

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Christopher Nolan’s game-changing sci-fi filmInterstellar showed an auteur with a ton of ambition who had delivered enough financial success to really be able to explore that ambition. The result is a sometimes muddled but always engrossing look at a time-bending journey to replenish the Earth’s resources. And this includes an introduction to Matt Damon‘s Dr. Mann.

That’s a Pretty Big Role to Go Uncredited

For good reason, Damon was left out of Interstellar‘s marketing campaign. He’s one of Earth’s biggest stars, and it would have undoubtedly left audiences distracted thinking about just when he’ll show up. But, you don’t tell Damon’s coming, and it’s just a nice surprise…though it becomes less nice once the viewer learns who Dr. Mann truly is and what he truly values. Stream Interstellar on Prime Video.


interstellar

Interstellar

Release Date
November 5, 2014

Main Genre
Sci-Fi

Runtime
2h 49m



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