Martin Scorsese's Greatest Movie & TV Cameos
Martin Scorsese may give comic book movies short shrift, but he shares one thing in common with late Marvel legend Stan Lee: a penchant for cheeky cameos.
Not just in his own films, either. The 76-year-old director has played the field, popping up in plenty of prestige TV dramas, obscure comedies, and low-budget sci-fis. That's not to mention his stand-out role as a caterpillar-browed pufferfish in Shark Tale.
Any Scorsese fan worth their salt should seek them all out (some are pretty hard to spot), but here are our favorites. The five appearances that truly stand out, for one reason or another:
Before Marty became the adorable legend he is today (around the time his beard hair jumped ship to his eyebrows), he was downright terrifying. The director’s early interviews bristle with frenetic intensity, and he was able to channel that into his on-screen cameos.
Scorsese’s appearance in Taxi Driver, as Travis Bickle’s homicidal passenger, was born out of necessity after Mean Streets actor George Memmoli pulled out at the last minute. The character’s racist, misogynistic, grotesquely violent rant turned out to be one of the most impactful scenes in the film, offering an alternative expression of the rage, bitterness and self-loathing that exists within Bickle. It's undoubtedly Scorsese’s best performance.
Another film that plays on the director’s frantic energy, albeit to less demented ends. Albert Brooks' 1999 Hollywood satire The Muse opened to lukewarm reviews and likely would have been forgotten for good, if not for Scorsese’s hilariously skittish send-up of himself.
The short scene has found a second life on the internet, largely thanks to the director’s meme-worthy pitch for a Raging Bull remake starring a ‘real thin guy’ (“Thin and angry! Thin and angry! Thin and angry!”) But beyond that, the whole flustered performance is a flawless display of comic timing and self-parody, and as clear a sign as any that Scorsese isn't the self-serious egotist many Marvel fans make him out to be.
“Hello Vince? Hey, it’s Marty Scor-sessy…”
Wait, what did he just say? Back in 2008, a surprise cameo in Entourage’s fifth season exposed us all to a shocking, world-shaking truth: Martin Scorsese doesn’t know how to pronounce his own name.
Or maybe he just misspoke. Either way, we all decided to brush it under the carpet and promised never to speak of it again. Kind of like Entourage, really.
Scorsese has given himself fewer and fewer lines over the years, and his recent cameos are largely of the 'blink and you’ll miss it' variety. Luckily, he makes up for that by dressing up in big hats and generally looking adorable. Here he is playing a photographer in Hugo!
It's not the first time he's played a mustachioed cameraman. Here he is in Age of Innocence 18 years earlier. Proof of an extended Scorsese-verse? No, definitely not. Grow up.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
A rare insight into Scorsese's process, and a glimpse at what The Irishman might have looked like if it was optioned before all that de-aging tech was finished.
A small cameo was the least Scorsese could do for a show that had a surprisingly significant impact on his career. Turns out, it was Larry David's celebrated comedy that convinced Marty that TV was a road worth exploring after all, rather than crime sagas like The Sopranos or The Wire.
"I only watched The Sopranos once or twice. I just couldn’t connect with it,” he told The Independent. "I started watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, that is the key one, that is when I realized you could do something on television.”
Which eventually led to Scorsese getting involved in Boardwalk Empire and Vinyl, as well as a rumored upcoming show based on Julius Caesar.
But it doesn't end there. Check out all of Marty's cameos in the video below:
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.