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A cameo is when a well-known actor or a celebrity plays a small part in a movie not about them. That can be very brief; as an example, the famed Robert Redford appears in Avengers: Endgame for about 10 seconds. Leonard Nimoy has a similarly brief bit in Star Trek Into Darkness.

I'm curious if there have been shorter cameos; particularly when compared to the fame of the actor. Has anyone been on screen for less than five seconds, before vanishing and never playing any other part in the film?

Some qualifications:

  • It cannot be footage that originated from a different production, or from the public domain. Robert Downey Jr. is briefly shown on a television in Birdman, but the footage in question was from Iron Man 1 (I think). The actor must have actually come to the production of the movie in question and shot their scene.
  • Exclude stingers that are separate from the rest of the movie and designed to tease more of the character/actor, who is planned have a greater role in the franchise.
  • Exclude photographs, paintings, etc, that depict a known actor. The person must be really there.
  • Exclude people deeply involved in the production of said film; e.g. a director's cameo.
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    Given how common extremely short cameos are, often in the background with no lines, I don't see how this question could have a well-defined answer. Jun 25 '20 at 1:04
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft a fraction of a second can still be measured, can it not? I'm still waiting for the single-frame cameo. Babylon 5 has a ton of single-frame "cameos" at the end of the series, but they were all people who worked on the series... And not sure if it counts as a cameo...
    – Nacht
    Jun 25 '20 at 2:32
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    @Nacht I'm also waiting for a single-frame cameo, or maybe... "subliminal cameo"? :)
    – Andrew T.
    Jun 25 '20 at 7:06
  • @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft It is as they say, the shortest cameo measured in frames. Currently Seth Green is winning. Extras, producers, etc; those do not count as cameos by my definition.
    – KeizerHarm
    Jun 25 '20 at 9:02
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    Nope, not funny, not favourite, not cool, briefest! And we don't need to have the coolest in the comments either. This thing is off the HNQ for now.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 25 '20 at 20:51
47

Stan Lee has a one-second-long cameo appearance in Iron Man 2 (at 00:21, introduced as Larry King):

If Stan Lee doesn't count as a person involved in the production, then Larry Ellison also appears in the same scene for about three seconds.

I'm not sure if this is the briefest cameo ever, just the first thing that satisfies the requirements

UPDATE: Amazingly, this scene has an even shorter cameo by Seth Green. He only appears on screen for a fraction of a second at 00:23 and, now, this is a strong contender for the briefest cameo ever:

enter image description here

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    Seth Green appears for 14 frames. Youtube videos are "officially" 60 fps; so that's a quarter of a second. I dare say that's a strong contender indeed!
    – KeizerHarm
    Jun 24 '20 at 16:56
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    It's Seth Green though...xD
    – NuGGeT
    Jun 24 '20 at 17:26
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    Is it Seth Green, is it Howard the Duck in disguise, who can say. Jun 24 '20 at 19:54
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    I was almost about to say you missed another cameo from another Larry (Larry King) when I realized that Stan Lee was playing as Larry King. Jun 24 '20 at 20:23
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    @defaultlocale Ah - I thought that was the real Larry King, not Stan Lee.
    – Dai
    Jun 25 '20 at 11:36
40

Brad Pitt's cameo in Deadpool 2 was around 2 seconds long and holds the record I believe. He also did it for a coffee.

http://www.factfiend.com/deadpool-2-landed-record-breaking-cameo-coffee/

http://www.factfiend.com/deadpool-2-landed-record-breaking-cameo-coffee/

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    Just timed the visibility in that scene, and it looks like about 1.5 seconds to me. Didn't come close to recognizing him in the theatrical release. Jun 24 '20 at 21:45
  • Kinda the point lol hey it may not win best answer here but it's a lovely bit of trivia and very Deadpool xD
    – NuGGeT
    Jun 24 '20 at 22:09
  • On Collider they claim 8 frames. Jun 25 '20 at 7:35
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    I just looked at the scene on youtube, and his face is visible for 37 frames at 24 fps.
    – Kruga
    Jun 25 '20 at 8:14
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    I was going to answer with this as well. I recognized him while watching, but only to the point of asking myself "hey, was that Brad Pitt?" I had to go look it up online to confirm.
    – Steve-O
    Jun 25 '20 at 14:55
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Peter Jackson has a roughly 1-second cameo as a deranged Santa Claus who stabs officer Nicholas Angel in the movie Hot Fuzz.

enter image description here

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R2-D2 has an extremely brief cameo in Star Trek (2009) as he flies by in a field of debris. He also appears briefly in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).

still image from Star Trek film showing R2D2 circled in red in a debris field

Image source: https://www.slashfilm.com/see-the-r2-d2-cameo-in-star-trek-into-darkness/

Documented by fans on YouTube and several reputable publications.

He's almost impossible to spot without freezing the videos.

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    R2D2 is a character, not an actor. Jun 25 '20 at 17:15
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    @RussellBorogove How 'bout celebrity? OP allows that. Jun 26 '20 at 4:17
10

Coldplay's lead singer Chris Martin had two brief cameos in Shaun Of the Dead; one as a zombie; and one as himself, which lasts for about one second by my reckoning.

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Not the shortest, but may be the shortest with a line of dialogue. And it's my fave.

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in X-Men - First Class.

I don't think this falls foul of the stinger rule as it was in the movie itself. There was no guarantee he'd turn up later in the franchise either.

enter image description here

WARNING! Swear words!

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    It would be great if you would identify the movie and cameo actor in the answer. Jun 25 '20 at 15:08
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    From the video: It's Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine in X-Men: First Class.
    – Barmar
    Jun 25 '20 at 15:39
3

Donald Trump in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is on screen for 8 seconds. He enters at 00:15 and exits at 00:23.

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    Not short enough to be a contender, but definitely a surprise. Jun 25 '20 at 18:28
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    After recent events, there is talk of digitally editing him out of the film.
    – Pete
    Jan 30 at 1:42

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