This is when a crewmember or executive for a show makes an appearance in a part that would ordinarily be cast with a professional actor.
This may start out as a Creator Cameo
, with their original "extra" part becoming an Ascended Extra
Not to be confused with Fallen Creator
, and has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.
Film - Animation
Film - Live Action
- In The Incredibles, Brad Bird wound up voicing Edna Mode not because the actress he was seeking for it (Lily Tomlin) couldn't, but because she said he did it perfectly himself when demonstrating what she should sound like.
- Walt Dohrn, head of story on Shrek Forever After, was cast as Rumplestilskin after everyone fell in love with the voice he came up for him when doing the readbacks on the recording sessions.
- Meet the Robinsons director Steve Anderson voiced Bowler Hat Guy, Grandpa Bud and Cousin Tallulah.
- Madagascar films: Tom McGarth, director and writer on the films, voiced Skipper the penguin, a role he reprised on the TV spin-off The Penguins of Madagascar. Private and Kowalski were also voiced by crew members Christopher Knights and Chris Miller respectively (though only for the movies). Along with McGarth, they've done multiple roles in other Dreamworks movies.
- Chris Sanders as Stitch in Lilo & Stitch and the franchise that grew out of it. He also was Belt in The Croods.
- Longtime animator and storyboard writer Ralph Wright was the very first voice for Eeyore in Disney's Winnie the Pooh series.
- Pixar crewmember Bob Perterson has voiced Roz, Mr. Ray and both Dug and Alpha.
- Storyboard artist Mark Walton voiced Rhino from Bolt.
- Josh Radnor stars as Jesse in Liberal Arts, which he also wrote and directed.
- When Michael Douglas began producing Romancing the Stone, he didn't plan to play the male lead. The part was offered to Sylvester Stallone and Christopher Reeve before Douglas finally decided to play the role himself.
- The director of Metal Gear Solid Philanthropy never intended to play Solid Snake himself.
- Kevin Smith cast himself as Silent Bob in Clerks after realizing he couldn't memorize Randal's (who he had written for himself to play) lines, displacing the friend who was supposed to play the character, simply so that if the film's production bankrupted him at least he'd have solid evidence he'd made a movie. He's in it for all of maybe ten minutes of footage and doesn't even do anything until the end. That changed drastically in Smith's later work. Silent Bob's one and only line of dialogue in the film wasn't even meant for him, either. It was originally meant to be spoken by Jay, but Jason Mewes (a heavy drug-user at the time) was unable to properly deliver the line and Smith took it upon himself. Since this line was more or less the moral of the story, Silent Bob became the sort of sage-like figure he is in later films, remaining quiet only until he has something important to say.
- Mel Gibson didn't originally intend to play William Wallace in Braveheart.
- Dan Schneider played the manager Mr. Bailey in Good Burger.
- Director Jon Favreau plays Tony Stark's long suffering chauffeur Happy Hogan in the Iron Man film series. He reprised the role for the third film despite passing the torch as director.
- Quentin Tarantino in almost every film he's ever done.
- Sharlto Copley only intended to produce District 9 and had no plans of acting in the film (at the time, Copley had no interest in acting). Director Neill Blomkamp ended up casting him as Wikus since he fit the role the best.
- Although John Landis often makes cameo appearances in his films, his large role in Into the Night came about through necessity: the Persian actors playing the rest of the four bad guys were unfamiliar with the slapstick tradition, and Landis found it easier to direct them through it if he led by example.
- Harold Ramis as Egon in Ghostbusters. He never wanted to play the part, but he was the only one who really made anyone go, "Okay, that's Egon." This carried over into The Real Ghostbusters—Maurice LaMarche was specifically asked not to impersonate Harold Ramis, but he realized that nothing else sounded right!
- In The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, the Italian director Rossano Brazzi plays the antagonist, Phineas T. Prune.
- Show creator Rod Serling was always the narrator of The Twilight Zone, but in the final episode of Season 1, he appeared on-screen for the first time. It was intended as a one-time gag, but it was such a hit that he appeared at the beginning of all subsequent episodes (while continuing to do closing narrations). He could have appeared in season one before the season one finale; when "A Nice Place To Visit" was in pre-production, the episode's writer Charles Beaumont suggested that Serling play the role of the main character. (Serling decided against it.)
- Tom Braidwood was cast as Frohike while serving as an assistant director on The X-Files. Allegedly the casting director said, "We need someone slimy—like Braidwood". (He also portrayed him in the spin-off ''The Lone Gunmen')
- The character of BOB on Twin Peaks was played by a set dresser who had accidentally gotten stuck in the set and was later accidentally reflected in a key scene. Also, the voice of FBI chief Gordon Cole was provided by David Lynch himself. He later traveled to the town in person.
- Originally, Tina Fey did not plan to star in 30 Rock.
- As the show went on, Larry David made more and more appearances in bit parts in Seinfeld.
- Michael Landon in Little House on the Prairie did not originally intend to both direct and lead in the role of Pa.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000:
- When Joel Hodgson left he was replaced by the show's head writer, Michael J. Nelson. MST 3 K was built on this trope. Major and minor characters alike were all played by members of the production staff (because many of them had performing experience and it saved money). You can practically count on one hand the number of times someone appeared that didn't already work for the series in some capacity.
- There were also a few times when their families showed up as extras, like the pancake breakfast in Quest Of The Delta Knights.
- Carl Reiner first played Alan Brady on The Dick Van Dyke Show as just a voice cameo, then with his face hidden, until finally he became the center of an episode ("Coast to Coast Big Mouth") and was fully seen. Reiner played several one-time-only and bit parts during the series as well.
- Sherlock: Mark Gatiss's cameo as Mycroft Holmes is half Mythology Gag and half Creator Cameo. As of the second season opener, "A Scandal in Belgravia", he ascended from cameo to major recurring character.
- Brent Butt, although he is a professional actor, did not intend to star in Hiccups.
- Stephen J. Cannell, as well as creating Renegade and writing several episodes, played the Big Bad, Dirty Cop Lt. Donald "Dutch" Dickerson.
- Lorenzo Music was just a writer before he was asked to lend his unique voice to the unseen doorman Carlton in Rhoda. He then became a well-known voice actor, most notable as the voice of Garfield.
- Because it is filmed on a fast turnaround and a small budget, Power Rangers has been guilty of this multiple times. Producer Doug Sloan voiced Prince Gasket in Power Rangers Zeo, and was Kimberly's Uncle Steve in one episode. In a by-proxy example, one frequent example is stunt coordinator and explosion-lover Koichi Sakamoto's wife, who was the A-Squad Pink Ranger in Power Rangers S.P.D. and a woman with a baby carriage in Power Rangers RPM. Sakamoto himself played an alien warrior that fights alongside Bulk and Skull in a Zeo episode.
- In Quantum Leap, creator Donald P. Bellisario played the guy Sam leaped into in "A Portrait For Troian". Writer/producer/wife of Bellisario Deborah Pratt plays title character Troian (who is named for their daughternote - Bellisario co-wrote this one as well) in the episode and voices both the Project Quantum Leap AI Ziggy and does the Opening Narration from mid-season 2 on.
- Xena: Warrior Princess the Xena Scrolls: 1940, the umpteenth grand-children of the Heroes do an Indiana Jones and get the Scrolls with the story of Xena; 1990, young Joxer finds the Scrolls in Grandpa's attic and pitches the Story to real Robert Tapert the Producer.
- Averted in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: episodes about the production staff of the TV show: the staff are played by the regular cast (Bruce Campbell is Robert Tapert, Hudson Leick is producer Liz Friedman, Kevin Smith is head writer Jerry Patrick Brown, Michael Hirst is writer Paul Robert Coyle, Ted Raimi is the Kurtzman half of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Gina Torres is casting director Beth Hymson-Ayer...).
- Kids in the Hall had Jeffrey Berman, a producer who appeared in many skits as a background character, purely to save money on hiring extras. He was immortalized as the 'sixth' member in this skit. The punchline that he appeared in more skits than an actual member of the cast could conceivably be true.
- Bill Lawrence appeared as the incredibly cynical justice of the peace who marries Lady and the Janitor in the Scrubs episode "My Soul on Fire, Part I."
- When Sesame Street began, writer Matt Robinson had major input in creating the character of Gordon. When the producers couldn't find any actor they liked for the role in auditions, they talked a reluctant Robinson into taking the job. He wound up playing Gordon for the first three seasons. A later retcon established Gordon's last name as Robinson. Matt Robinson also created and voiced the Muppet character Roosevelt Franklin.
- Jerry Paris, director of many an episode of Happy Days, can occasionally be seen in a bit part such as a photographer taking picutres in "Fonzie Loves Pinky Part 3."
- The "Zeke's Blues" episode of The Protectors originally had Tony Curtis in mind to play the guest role of Harry Rule's friend, nightclub pianist Zeke Daley - but Shane Rimmer, who wrote the episode (though better known as an actor, he also scripted episodes of Anderson shows), wound up playing Zeke instead.
- Edward McGinty, the main historical consultant for Boardwalk Empire, plays the quiet and unassuming ward boss Al Boyd. Early in development, McGinty was chatting with series creator Terrence Winter when Winter looked him in the eye and said "You know, with that face you should play one of the ward bosses..."
- Richard Osman, in his role as an executive for Endemol UK, made such a good impression when he pitched Pointless to The BBC that they suggested he take on the role of co-host himself. So he did.
- Executive Producer William Dozier was the Lemony Narrator in Batman.
- Originally only a writer for Horrible Histories, Larry Rickard was given the role of hyperactive Motor Mouth newscaster Bob Hale because the male actors in the original troupe couldn't handle the three minute monologues on top of the rest of their lines. Rickard eventually became part of the main troupe and they all went on to write and act in Yonderland.
- Gene Roddenberry made his only acting appearance in Star Trek history in a brief voice-over performance in an early episode of Star Trek: The Original Series ("Charlie X", as the Galley Chef).
- Played with in Jersey Jack Pinball's The Wizard of Oz; many of the playfield toys were sculpted by Dennis Nordman, a renown pinball designer in his own right. In this case, he was leveraging his hobby of building miniature dollhouses.
- When Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse wrote Life With Father, they intended the title role to be played by a famous actor. Howard Lindsay wound up playing Father, alongside his Real Life wife, Dorothy Stickney.
- In 1939 Otto Preminger, then blacklisted in Hollywood, was directing Clare Boothe Luce's play Margin for Error. When, during rehearsals, the actor playing the consul to Nazi Germany walked out, Preminger, who hadn't acted since he was nineteen, agreed to step into the part. Most of the few characters he played from then on were Nazis.
- Anecdotal evidence suggests that William Shakespeare played various minor roles in his own plays.
- In-universe in The Producers (the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation and 2005 movie). The writer of Springtime for Hitler takes objection to an auditioner's version of a song and gets up on stage to do it right. He's cast as Hitler on the spot. When he's injured shortly before the play opens, the director steps in to play the role.
- Joseph D. Kucan, director of the live-action scenes in the Command & Conquer series, also stars as iconic villain Kane.
- Ed Boon, one of the masterminds behind Mortal Kombat, provided the voice work for Scorpion in all of the games up through Mortal Kombat Armageddon. Even after being Darrin'd by Patrick Seitz, he continues to provide Scorpion's iconic Catch Phrase, "GET OVER HERE!!!"
- Daisuke Ishiwatari, the creator of the Guilty Gear saga, voices the main character Sol Badguy. Ditto with Toshimichi Mori, who is the BlazBlue's director, voices Paracelsus, also from Guilty Gear.
- Randy Pitchford, president of Gearbox Software voices Crazy Earl in the Borderlands games.
- Masamitsu "Moo" Niitani, president of Compile, voiced Satan in the Puyo Puyo games, and cosplayed him too.
- Keiji Inafune, original creator of Mega Man, head of Comcept, and developer for the Neptunia series, appears throughout the series as various superweapons, including a melee weapon, a Kill Sat, and a Cool Airship.
- RWBY: Monty Oum was always going to voice a part in the show. Originally it was going to be Professor Ozpin until he realised his voice didn't suit the character. He ended up voicing Lie Ren instead. He's also stated he will be voicing Qrow when that character eventually makes an appearance.
- The crew of Freakazoid! were having trouble finding a voice actor who could capture the manic breaks-out-into-Jerry Lewis-impressions-goes-off-on-fourth-wall-tangents-in-the-middle-of-a-fight voice of the title character. Finally, they just gave it to series writer Paul Rugg. Fellow writer John P. McCann voiced Douglas Douglas, Dexter's father.
- Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick provide voices for a number of characters in The Venture Bros.. Almost all of the Those Two Guys pairs are them: 21 and 24, Pete and Billy, Doe and Cardholder, et al.
- One of the oldest and most iconic examples: Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey Mouse.
- When Walt retired from voicing Mickey, he gave the job to Jimmy MacDonald, head of the studio's sound effects department. Jimmy also voiced such characters as Chip 'n Dale, Humphrey The Bear, Jaq and Gus from Cinderella, and the Dormouse from Alice in Wonderland.
- Upon his retirement, MacDonald passed the role to one of his trainees, Wayne Allwyne, who voiced Mickey until his death in 2009.
- Then the role went to illustrator Bret Iwan.
- Chris Diamantopoulos, of the 2012 shorts, is actually the first professional actor to play Mickey.
- John Kricfalusi voiced Ren on the first season and a half of The Ren & Stimpy Show until he was fired.
- Thurop Van Orman, creator of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, had to fill in as the voice Flapjack when the actor originally cast for the role, Paul Reubens, failed to show.
- Jack Mercer was an animator at Fleischer Studios when he was asked to replaced the original voice actor for Popeye The Sailor. He ended up doing the official voice of the character for the next fifty years, as well as voice other iconic characters, such as Felix the Cat.
- Goofy's memorable voice came courtesy of Disney storyman Pinto Colvig. Colvig also did Pluto The Pup, and both Grumpy and Sleepy on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He later did similar voices for other studios, and was even the original Bozo The Clown.
- The current voice of Donald Duck is Disney animator Tony Anselmo, who learned how to do the voice from the original VA, Clarence "Ducky" Nash.
- Bill Melendez, director on the various Peanuts specials, also provided Snoopy's growls and laughing.
- Trey Parker and Matt Stone do more than half the voices in South Park, including a few incidental female characters.
- For the first couple of seasons of The Simpsons, Matt Groening provided the noise for Maggie's sucking sound on her pacifier; he made an appearance as himself in a later episode.
- William Hanna provided the vocal effects and the speaking voices for Tom and Jerry, as well as other animals, in a few shorts.
- Happens on Robot Chicken all the time. Matt and Seth regularly appear as themselves, writers (especially Tom Root and Breckin Meyer) regularly voice characters and occasionally themselves. They even got [adult swim] execs Mike Lazzo and Keith Crofford to appear as themselves a couple times.
- On Adventure Time, creator Pendleton Ward voices a few characters, most notably Lumpy Space Princess.
- Ditto for Regular Show, which features creator J.G. Quintel as Mordecai and High-Five Ghost.
- Ditto again for Bravest Warriors, a web animation also by Pen Ward, where writer Breehn Burns voices several characters, notably the Emotion Lord.
- Ditto a Third Time with Uncle Grandpa creator, Peter Browngardt, voicing the Titular Character.
- For the first season of Recess, series writer Jeff Wright voiced Hank the janitor. Paul Dooley took over in season two.
- Of course, we can't forget Seth Macfarlane of Family Guy fame, voicing Peter, Brian, Stewie, and Quagmire.
- Much like Ward and Quintel above, Gravity Falls' creator Alex Hirsch voices regular characters Grunkle Stan and Soos, as well as Old Man McGucket, Quentin Trembley, and several incidentals.
- Mike Judge, who voices the title characters of both his shows Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill as well as several other characters in each.
- Moral Orel creator Dino Stamatopoulos does several voices throughout the show, such as Mr. Creepler, Clay's father as a middle-aged man, the kid whose name no one knows, Mr. Armature, etc.
- Tex Avery voiced multiple characters in his cartoons some examples include Willoughby the dog from "Of Foxes and Hounds", "The Crackpot Quail" and "The Heckling Hare", Junior of "George and Junior", the bulldog in "Bad Luck Blackie", Lenny from "Lonesome Lenny", and he even filled in for Bill Thompson as Droopy in a couple cartoons.
- A couple Disney animators lent their voices to the Classic Disney Shorts shorts, Milt Kahl voiced the title character of "Ferdinand the Bull" both as a calf and as a bull, and Fred Moore and Ward Kimball voiced their caricatures from "The Nifty 90's".
- Justin Roiland voices both of the title characters in Rick And Morty as well as additional voices.