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25 Movie Cameos by the Authors of the Original Books

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Many of you probably know that our friend John Green has a movie coming out in a few weeks. But when The Fault in Our Stars hits theaters, don't expect to see John up there on the silver screen. Though he filmed a cameo ("Girl's Father"), it was ultimately cut. "I was hugely relieved when I got the call when they had cut the scene," he told Vulture. "I was terrible. Terrible."

Not all author cameos are destined for the cutting room floor, though. Keep your eyes peeled for these sneaky appearances the next time you’re enjoying a movie based on a book.

1. Kathryn Stockett // The Help

The author of The Help has a bouffanted cameo as part of a scene involving the Junior League. Her mother, sister, and some friends also appear.

2. Stephenie Meyer // Twilight

It’s a very subtle cameo. See if your eagle eyes can spot it.

3. Michael Morpurgo // War Horse

Morpurgo and his wife, Clare, both filmed a cameo for the movie. This isn’t the first time Morpurgo has popped up for a bit part in War Horse, though. He’s also made small appearances when the play adaptations of his books have been performed in London and New York.

4. Stephen King // Pet Sematary 

The author cameos in many of his movies—Thinner, Rose Red, The Storm of the Century, The Stand, The Shining, The Langoliers and Sleepwalker, just to name a few. But I like the one in Pet Sematary, above.

5. Louis Sachar // Holes

The famous children’s and YA author plays a character named Mr. Collingwood in a flashback scene. See him at 0:33. 

6. Sara Gruen // Water for Elephants.

In a scene that will make Edward Cullen fans green with envy, Robert Pattinson brushes by an “astonished woman” watching Rosie the elephant steal produce. That woman is Gruen. Many of her family members also appear in the scene.

7. S.E. Hinton // The Outsiders

Hinton—whose real name is Susan Eloise—appears as the nurse in Dally’s hospital room. Check out her extremely brief appearance at the beginning the clip above.

8. John Irving // The World According to Garp

Anyone familiar with Irving’s love of wrestling won’t be surprised that he chose to appear as a wrestling referee in the movie adaptation of The World According to Garp, a role that required a fair amount of scuttling around on the floor.

9. Peter Benchley // Jaws

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The author who made millions of people question their summer vacation plans plays a reporter in a brief scene in the 1975 film adaptation, which Benchley co-wrote.

10. William Peter Blatty // The Exorcist

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Early in the movie, before the pea soup really hits the fan, Reagan’s actress mother is working on a movie. Blatty plays the producer of the film in a short on-set scene, asking if one of the scenes is really necessary. It's a case of art imitating life, because Blatty had many similar disputes with The Exorcist director William Friedkin.

11. John le Carré // Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy 

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He plays a guest at the MI6 Christmas party. The author can be found standing next to a spy dressed like Lenin.

12. V.C. Andrews // Flowers in the Attic 

Andrews died shortly after filming her very brief cameo, missing the movie’s 1987 premiere.

13. Fannie Flagg // Fried Green Tomatoes 

Flagg plays the workshop leader of a women’s seminar that Evelyn attends (before she's empowered by Towanda, of course).

14. Sapphire // Precious 

You can spot the mono-named author as a woman at a day care center near the end of the movie.

15. Hunter S. Thompson // Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 

Johnny Depp looks at "himself"—the real Hunter S. Thompson—at 0:25.

16. Kurt Vonnegut // Mother Night 

At 1:17 in the clip above, Vonnegut appears as one of the many people passing Campbell on the sidewalk.

17. Jennifer Weiner // In Her Shoes 

She plays "Smiling woman in Italian market." 

18. Jean Shepherd // A Christmas Story 


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The writer has a memorable scene as the man who sends Ralphie and his brother to the end of the Santa line.

19. Emily Giffin // Something Borrowed

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In a nod to her chick-lit career, Giffin appears in a scene where she's reading a book on a park bench. The novel just happens to be Something Blue, the sequel to Something Borrowed.

20. Jacqueline Susann // Valley of the Dolls 

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Despite hating the movie made from her best-selling book, Susann made a cameo as a reporter.

21. Jonathan S. Foer // Everything is Illuminated 

There's scene where movie Jonathan (Elijah Wood) is visiting his grandfather's grave. In the background, a groundskeeper is blowing leaves. The man keeping the cemetery tidy is the real Jonathan S. Foer.

22. Amy Tan // The Joy Luck Club

She plays a guest at a house party.

23. Irvine Welsh // Trainspotting 

Unlike most of these cameos, Welsh actually has an extended part. He plays Mikey Forrester, the dealer who supplies the opium suppositories that result in one of the most, uh, memorable bathroom scenes in the history of cinema. 

24. Charles Bukowski // Barfly

When the camera lingers a beat or two too long on an older gentleman enjoying a beer, you'll know you've spotted Bukowski.

25. James Dickey // Sheriff Bullard in Deliverance

 

It seems that the author's presence on the set was distracting to the actors, so they asked director John Boorman to ask Dickey to leave. To soften the blow a little, Boorman offered Dickey the part of the sheriff. Though Dickey originally declined ("I ain't coming back; get yourself another boy"), he eventually returned to give this impressive performance.

A much shorter version of this post appeared in 2012.

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20 Facts About Your Favorite Coen Brothers Movies
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Ethan Coen turns 60 years old today, if you can believe it. Since bursting onto the scene in 1984 with the cult classic Blood Simple, the younger half of (arguably) the most dynamic moviemaking sibling duo in Hollywood has helped create some of the most memorable and quirky films in cinematic history, from Raising Arizona to Fargo and The Big Lebowski to No Country For Old Men. To celebrate the monumental birthday of one of the great writer-directors of our time (though he’s mostly uncredited as a director), here are some facts about your favorite Coen brothers movies.

1. THE COENS THINK BLOOD SIMPLE IS “PRETTY DAMN BAD.”

Fifteen years after Blood Simple’s release, the Coens reflected upon their first feature in the 2000 book My First Movie. “It’s crude, there’s no getting around it,” Ethan said. “On the other hand, it’s all confused with the actual process of making the movie and finishing the movie which, by and large, was a positive experience,” Joel said. “You never get entirely divorced from it that way. So, I don’t know. It’s a movie that I have a certain affection for. But I think it’s pretty damn bad!”

2. KEVIN COSTNER AND RICHARD JENKINS AUDITIONED FOR RAISING ARIZONA.

Kevin Costner auditioned three times to play H.I., only to see Nicolas Cage snag the role. Richard Jenkins had his first of many auditions for the Coens for Raising Arizona. He also (unsuccessfully) auditioned for Miller's Crossing (1990) and Fargo (1996) before calling it quits with the Coens. In 2001, Joel and Ethan cast Jenkins in The Man Who Wasn't There, even though he had never auditioned for it.

3. THE BROTHERS TURNED DOWN BATMAN TO MAKE MILLER’S CROSSING.

After Raising Arizona’s success established them as more than one-hit indie film wonders, the Coens had some options with regard to what project they could tackle next. Reportedly, their success meant that they were among the filmmakers being considered to make Batman for Warner Bros. Of course, the Coens ultimately decided to go the less commercial route, and Tim Burton ended up telling the story of The Dark Knight on the big screen.

4. BARTON FINK AND W.P. MAYHEW WERE LOOSELY BASED ON CLIFFORD ODETS AND WILLIAM FAULKNER.

The Coens acknowledge that Fink and Odets had similar backgrounds, but they had different personalities: Odets was extroverted, for one thing. John Turturro, not his directors, read Odets’s 1940 journal. The Coens acknowledged that John Mahoney (Mayhew) looks a lot like the The Sound and the Fury author.

5. THE COENS' WEB OF DECEPTION IN FARGO GOES EVEN FURTHER THAN THE OPENING CREDITS. 

While the tag on the beginning of the movie reads “This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987,” Fargo is, by no stretch of the imagination, a true story. During the film's press tour, the Coens admitted that while not pinpoint accurate, the story was indeed inspired by a similar crime that occurred in Minnesota, with Joel stating, “In its general structure, the film is based on a real event, but the details of the story and the characters are fictional.”

However, any and all efforts to uncover anything resembling such a crime ever occurring in Minnesota come up empty, and in an introduction to the published script, Ethan pretty much admitted as much, writing that Fargo “aims to be both homey and exotic, and pretends to be true." 

6. THEY WANTED MARLON BRANDO TO PLAY JEFFREY LEBOWSKI.

According to Alex Belth, who wrote the e-book The Dudes Abide on his time spent working as an assistant to the Coens, casting the role of Jeffrey Lebowski was one of the last decisions made before filming. Names tossed around for the role included Robert Duvall (who passed because he wasn’t fond of the script), Anthony Hopkins (who passed since he had no interest in playing an American), and Gene Hackman (who was taking a break at the time). A second “wish list” included an oddball “who’s who," including Norman Mailer, George C. Scott, Jerry Falwell, Gore Vidal, Andy Griffith, William F. Buckley, and Ernest Borgnine.

The Coens’ ultimate Big Lebowski, however, was the enigmatic Marlon Brando, who by that time was reaching the end of his career (and life). Apparently, the Coens amused themselves by quoting some of their favorite Jeffrey Lebowski lines (“Strong men also cry”) in a Brando accent. The role would eventually go to the not-particularly-famous—albeit pitch-perfect—veteran character actor David Huddleston. In true Dude fashion, it all worked out in the end.

7. JOEL COEN WOOED FRANCES MCDORMAND ON THE SET OF BLOOD SIMPLE.

Coen and McDormand fell in love while making Blood Simple and got married a couple of years later, after production wrapped. McDormand told The Daily Beast about the moment when she roped him in. “I’d only brought one book to read to Austin, Texas, where we were filming, and I asked him if there was anything he’d recommend,” she said. “He brought me a box of James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler paperbacks, and I said, ‘Which one should I start with?’ And he said, ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice.’ I read it, and it was one of the sexiest f*ckin’ books I’ve ever read. A couple of nights later, I said, ‘Would you like to come over and discuss the book?’ That did it. He seduced me with literature. And then we discussed books and drank hot chocolate for several evenings. It was f*ckin’ hot. Keep it across the room for as long as you can—that’s a very important element.”

8. O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? WAS ORIGINALLY INSPIRED BY THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Joel Coen revealed as much at the 15th anniversary reunion. “It started as a 'three saps on the run' kind of movie, and then at a certain point we looked at each other and said, 'You know, they're trying to get home—let's just say this is The Odyssey. We were thinking of it more as The Wizard of Oz. We wanted the tag on the movie to be: 'There's No Place Like Home.’”

9. THE ACTORS IN FARGO WENT THROUGH EXTENSIVE TRAINING TO GET THEIR ACCENTS RIGHT.

Having grown up in Minnesota, the Coens were more than familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the “Minnesota nice” accent, but much of the cast—including Frances McDormand and William H. Macy—needed coaching to get the intricacies right. Actors were even given copies of the scripts with extensive pronunciation notes. According to dialect coach Larissa Kokernot, who also appeared as one of the prostitutes Gaear and Carl rendezvous with in Brainerd, the “musicality” of the Minnesota nice accent comes from a place of “wanting people to agree with each other and get along.” This homey sensibility, contrasted with the ugly crimes committed throughout the movie, is, of course, one of the major reasons why the dark comedy is such an enduring classic.

10. NICOLAS CAGE'S HAIR REACTED TO H.I.'S STRESS LEVEL IN RAISING ARIZONA.

Ethan claimed that Cage was "crazy about his Woody Woodpecker haircut. The more difficulties his character got in, the bigger the wave in his hair got. There was a strange connection between the character and his hair."

11. A PROP FROM THE HUDSUCKER PROXY INSPIRED THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE.

A bit of set dressing from 1994’s The Hudsucker Proxy eventually led to 2001’s The Man Who Wasn’t There. In a barbershop scene, there’s a poster hanging in the background that features a range of men’s hairstyles from the 1940s. The brothers liked the prop and kept it, and it’s what eventually served as the inspiration for The Man Who Wasn’t There.

12. GEORGE CLOONEY SIGNED ON TO O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? BEFORE EVEN READING THE SCRIPT.

The brothers visited George Clooney in Phoenix while he was making Three Kings (1999), wanting to work with him after seeing his performance in Out of Sight (1998). Moments after they put their script on Clooney’s hotel room table, the actor said “Great, I’m in.”

13. A SNAG IN THE MILLER’S CROSSING SCRIPT ULTIMATELY LED TO BARTON FINK.

Miller’s Crossing is a complicated beast, full of characters double-crossing each other and scheming for mob supremacy. In fact, it’s so complicated that at one point during the writing process the Coens had to take a break. It turned out to be a productive one: While Miller’s Crossing was on pause, the brothers wrote the screenplay for Barton Fink, the story of a writer who can’t finish a script.

14. INTOLERABLE CRUELTY IS THE FIRST COEN MOVIE THAT WASN’T THE BROTHERS’ ORIGINAL IDEA.

In 1995, the Coens rewrote a script originally penned by other screenwriters, Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone, and John Romano. They didn’t decide to direct the movie, which became Intolerable Cruelty, until 2003.

15. THE LADYKILLERS WAS WRITTEN FOR BARRY SONNENFELD TO DIRECT.

The Coens effortlessly jump from crime thriller to comedy without missing a beat. So when they were commissioned to write a remake of the British black comedy The Ladykillers for director Barry Sonnenfeld, it seemed to fall in line with their cinematic sensibilities. When Sonnenfeld dropped out of the project, the Coens were hired to direct the film.

16. BURN AFTER READING MARKED THE FIRST TIME SINCE MILLER’S CROSSING THAT THE COENS DIDN’T WORK WITH THEIR USUAL CINEMATOGRAPHER, ROGER DEAKINS.

Instead, eventual Academy Award-winner Emmanuel Lubezki acted as the director of photography. The Coens would work with Deakins again on every one of their films until 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis.

17. IT TOOK SOME CONVINCING TO GET JAVIER BARDEM TO SAY “YES” TO NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Though it’s hard to imagine No Country for Old Men without Javier Bardem’s menacing—and Oscar-winning—performance as antagonist Anton Chigurh, he almost passed on the role. “It’s not something I especially like, killing people—even in movies,” Bardem said of his disdain for violence. “When the Coens called, I said, ‘Listen, I’m the wrong actor. I don’t drive, I speak bad English, and I hate violence.’ They laughed and said, ‘Maybe that’s why we called you.”’

18. PATTON OSWALT AUDITIONED FOR A SERIOUS MAN.

Patton Oswalt auditioned for the role of the obnoxious Arthur Gopnik in A Serious Man, a part that ultimately went to Richard Kind. Oswalt talked about his audition while appearing on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, in which it was also revealed that Maron was being considered for the lead role of Larry Gopnik (the role that earned Michael Stuhlbarg his first, and so far only, Golden Globe nomination).

19. THE CAT IN INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS WAS “A NIGHTMARE.”

Ulysses, the orange cat who practically stole Inside Llewyn Davis away from Oscar Isaac, was reportedly a bit of a diva. “The cat was a nightmare,” Ethan Coen said on the DVD commentary. “The trainer warned us and she was right. She said, uh, ‘Dogs like to please you. The cat only likes to please itself.’ A cat basically is impossible to train. We have a lot of footage of cats doing things we don't want them to do, if anyone's interested; I don't know if there's a market for that.”

20. THE COEN BROTHERS PROBABLY DON’T LOVE THE BIG LEBOWSKI AS MUCH AS YOU DO. 

We’re assuming the Coen brothers are plenty fond of The Dude; after all, he doesn’t end up facing imminent death or tragedy, which is more than most of their protagonists have going for them. But in a rare Coen brothers interview in 2009, Joel Coen flatly stated, “That movie has more of an enduring fascination for other people than it does for us.”

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Brush Up on Your Film Trivia With This Website Dedicated to First and Last Lines From Popular Movies
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Few elements of a film are more important than its opening and closing lines. In some cases, they divulge pivotal truths or serve as bookends to establish the movie’s overall tone. In others, they provide important context or reveal key information about the lead characters.

No matter which purpose these snippets of dialogue serve, the most iconic establishing or concluding film lines are perhaps the most quotable ones. (After all, how many Citizen Kane fans can hear the phrase “Rosebud” without being reminded of Kane’s favorite childhood sleigh?) But if you can’t remember the openers and closers from your own favorite flicks, a new website is here to help you brush up on your pop culture knowledge.

Made by the team over at AT&T Internet, the fun reference site takes iconic blockbusters and presents their first and last lines of dialogue using typography and the occasional illustration. The site “is a way to recap the last 50 years of movies into a slideshow,” communications manager Alex Thomas tells Mental Floss.

You can check out AT&T Internet’s online slideshow of first and last lines—featuring bits from 1972’s The Godfather, 1999’s The Sixth Sense, 1994's The Shawshank Redemption, and more—here.

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