Mara Jade
by Mara Jade

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There are some talented directors who aren’t just contented sitting in their director’s chair, and often star in their own movies as well. Woody Allen, for instance, is a main fixture in his own movies. However, there are also a handful of directors who don’t cast themselves in a role, but are content with just making cameos. It’s almost like they’re marking their territory.

Here are four famous directors well-known for making cameos in their movies, so much so that audiences familiar with their films will look out for them, just like how we watch out for Stan Lee to appear in all Marvel movies.

Alfred Hitchcock

Here's Hitchcock walking his dogs in The Birds (1963)

Hitchcock is the king of cameos. In all, he had cast himself in walk-on roles in 39 films over a five-decade period. Most of the time, his “role” would be simply strolling past in front of the camera once at some point during the movie, and it’s become a tradition for audiences to watch out for him. It’s pretty clear Hitchcock was addicted to cameo-ing in his own movies, “It all started with the shortage of extras in my first picture. I was in for a few seconds as an editor with my back to the cameras. It wasn't really much, but I played it to the hilt. Since then I have been trying to get into every one of my pictures. It isn't that I like the business, but it has an impelling fascination that I can't resist. When I do, the cast, grips, and the cameramen and everyone else gathers to make it as difficult as possible for me. But I can't stop now!"

Now, he's a passenger in Strangers On a Train (1951)

Peter Jackson

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

He is the king of Middle-earth and may have single-handedly brought about a boom in New Zealand’s tourism. In a series as epic as The Lord of the Rings, it’s only natural for Jackson to want to appear in these movies. And if you have an eagle eye, you would have spotted him in all three films.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Being a pretty modest chap, Jackson passed on appearing as one of the fantastical characters, instead, he chose to cameo as a villager in Bree in The Fellowship of the Ring, a Rohan soldier in The Two Towers and a helmsman of the pirates in The Return of the King. Did you spot all three cameos?

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

M. Night Shyamalan

Unlike Jackson, whose cameos in his own movies are non-speaking parts, Shyamalan always slots in a speaking cameo in his own movies, except for After Earth and The Visit. In The Sixth Sense, he played a doctor, in Unbreakable, he was a drug dealer, while in The Village, he played a security guard.

He was a driver in The Signs, and in The Last Airbender, he was a Firebender at a Prison Camp. In Split, he was in a bit part, assisting the doctor in looking at some footage. In Lady in the Water, Shyamalan cast himself in a supporting role rather than a cameo. He played an author whom Story (who IS the lady in the water, played by Bryce Dallas Howard) is seeking in order to change the world.

Robert Rodriguez

Rodriguez interacting with the cast on Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Most directors have a signature style of directing or penchant for a certain type of movies, but not Rodriguez. He excels at violent movies, like Machete Kills and Sin City, but he also transits effortlessly into kid-friendly territories, like Spy Kids. And he often appears in his movies, although you most likely won’t spot him unless you look really hard, because most of them, if not all, are non-speaking roles and some are not even credited. He’d been a SWAT member in Sin City, a henchman in Planet Terror, and simply an extra in Grindhouse. It’s almost as though he’s just filling a slot of an extra in his movies, preferring to let the actors shine in their roles instead. Or it might be just for his own pleasure, creating an Easter egg in his own movie?

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