In addition to being a cinematic genius, Alfred Hitchcock was known for making cameo appearances in most of his films, from the guy missing a bus at the beginning of North by Northwest to the guy exiting the pet shop in The Birds. After Hitchcock, the next king of the cameo has to be Stan Lee. The co-creator of countless classic superheroes and the man responsible in large part for the Marvel juggernaut, Lee appeared as a minor character or himself in sixty films, first in the 1989 TV movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk and finally in this year’s Avengers: Endgame.
Both men had an outsized effect on American culture, and they were so prolific that their real-world identities were notable enough to add a moment of levity to otherwise serious movies. With these criteria, we think the new king of the cameo has to be Stephen King.
He is certainly prolific. King’s been active since 1967, and in that time he’s written sixty novels, ten short story collections, and numerous screenplays. Like Lee’s many of King’s stories, from Stand by Me to Castle Rock, have been adapted for the screen
King’s latest cameo, in It Chapter Two, happens midway through the movie when Bill Denbrough spots his old bike, Silver, in the window of a Derry antique store. King plays the proprietor, a curmudgeon with a thick Maine accent, a caricature of the author himself, who doesn’t like the ending of Bill’s latest book, a wink to the audience from a guy who knows a thing or two about an ending.
It’s the latest in a long line of cameos for King. He has 25 acting credits to his name, nearly all in movies and TV shows based on his writing, though his first appearance as Hoagie Man—what a character name!—in a film he didn’t write or inspire, George A. Romero’s Knightriders in 1981. His next was as Jordy Verrill in Creepshow, another Romero film and King’s screenwriting debut.
King also memorably played the minister in the 1989 version of Pet Sematary, for which he also wrote the screenplay based on his own novel.
King infamously does not like Stanley Kubrick’s take on The Shining, calling it “a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside.” But he was happy to play creepy-as-hell bandleader Gage Creed in the 1997 miniseries version.
King has 18 writing credits on IMDb listed as either filming, in pre-production, or announced. That’s at least 18 more opportunities for him to pop up in a somewhat demented bit part, and to solidify his place as the modern-day master of the cameo.