32 of the most iconic celebrity cameos in TV and film history, from Queen Elizabeth to David Bowie

What do Queen Elizabeth and Naomi Campbell have in common? Delighting audiences with a surprise cameo

L-R: Anna Wintour, Sarah Ferguson with Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry for Friends, and Vanessa Williams and Vera Wang
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These are the most memorable celebrity film and TV cameos, from royalty on the small screen to blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments in blockbuster movies from some unexpected faces.

Often, the celebrities giving some of the best red carpet moments do so after being the main attraction of the latest blockbuster or binge-worthy series. 

But sometimes even the biggest names in the biz are outshone by a surprising cameo. Unannounced or unexpected appearances are often fun Easter Eggs for fans to look out for, whether it's a supermodel popping up in a film about fashion or actual royalty surprising everyone. Here, we round up our favourite-ever cameos.

32 of the most iconic celebrity cameos

Gisele - The Devil Wears Prada

Supermodel Gisele Bunchden

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For one of the most iconic movies about fashion, of course The Devil Wears Prada had to rope in some iconic figures from fashion. Enter supermodel Gisele, playing Serena, the catty friend of Emily Blunt's character. Gisele is part of the oft-quoted exchange - "Are you wearing the... "The Chanel boots? Yeah, I am."

Gisele explained that she nearly turned down the cameo in British Vogue

"I was flying from Los Angeles and the lady who was writing this movie [Aline Brosh McKenna] came to me, and she said, ‘I’m doing this movie, Devil Wears Prada, and it’s all about fashion and everything. And I’m getting some models to act on it.

"I’m like, ‘No, I’m not interested. I’m not gonna play a model, I do that every day... I am not an actress; I never had an acting class,” she explained. 

"It was Meryl Streep, [who] I think is the best actress of all time. It was Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway; all of them [are] incredible... So, I was like okay, ‘I hope I don’t screw this up.'"

Fast forward to today, and Gisele's cameo is earning her new fans - including her own daughter. 

She said to Vogue, "It’s funny because my daughter… was [at] some friend’s house. She’s like, ‘Mom I saw you in a movie. You were wearing glasses. Was that you?’... It was cute to have my daughter recognising me for the two seconds I was on screen."

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Naomi Campbell - Ugly Betty

Naomi Campbell playing baseball during her cameo in Ugly Betty

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Ugly Betty brought a spotlight on the world of fashion publishing akin to The Devil Wears Prada - and both came out in 2006. Running for four seasons, the Golden Globe-winning series enticed some of the most established names in the industry. 

One such cameo appearance was from, arguably, the world's biggest supermodel - Naomi Campbell. Naomi appeared in a 2008 episode, which saw the staff of the fictional Mode magazine face off against the Elle team in a charity baseball match.

Poking fun at her reputation following her pleading guilty to accidentally throwing her phone at a maid,  Naomi takes a phone call in her short cameo, causing everyone to drop to the ground in fear. 

Madonna - Will & Grace

Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) with Madonna in Will & Grace

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For season five of the popular Will & Grace sitcom, the Queen of Pop herself made an appearance. 

Madonna played Liz, an office worker who ends up living with the character of Karen Walker. 

Madonna's impact helped bring a reported audience of 17.7 million viewers - and she was reportedly just as funny and biting off-set. 

As per Gay Times, Sean Hayes (who plays Jack on the show) revealed during a Q&A in London that he was convinced Madonna hated him during filming.

“She was wonderful. She came in, did the table read and was great,” he recalled.

“I know she was nervous, so to make her feel good I was praising her. I was like, ‘That’s funny when you do that!’ and ‘That’s really great!’

“She said, quote: ‘Thank you. I live for your approval.’"

Princess Beatrice - The Young Victoria

Princess Beatrice starring in The Young Victoria

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Princess Beatrice showcased her hidden royal talent via a cameo in a film all about her great-great-great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.

The Young Victoria - executive produced by Sarah Ferguson - came out in 2009 and follows the life of 18-year-old Queen Victoria in the first year of her reign.

The film stars Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria and Rupert Friend as Prince Albert.

Beatrice made a cameo at the beginning of the film as one of The Queen's Ladies-in-Waiting in the coronation scene.

Anna Wintour - Ocean's 8

Anna Wintour

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For the fourth movie in the Ocean franchise, the men were told to take the night off as eight women come together to pull off a once-in-a-lifetime heist at the Met Gala, *the* fashion event of the year. 

Of course, you can't make a movie about the Met Gala without an appearance by the woman who has made it one of the most anticipated nights of the year. 

Anna's appearance in the movie shows the notoriously tough editor-in-chief in a more relaxed light, as she pokes fun at her love for tennis. 

Rather than working hard, the Vogue editor is caught skipping work and watching  Roger Federer play on her laptop. 

Dustin Hoffman - The Holiday

Dustin Hoffman

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The Holiday has become one of the most beloved romcoms - and Christmas movies - of all time. 

While the featured cast brings enough star power alone - with Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black headlining - Dustin Hoffman makes a brief appearance when two of the characters are humming the tune from one of his most famous movies, The Graduate. 

As it turns out, this was totally unplanned. Dustin has said in numerous interviews that he stumbled upon the film set while genuinely looking for a movie at Blockbuster. Because he knew the film's director Nancy Meyers, she convinced him to film the very short cameo.

Dolly Parton - Miss Congeniality 2

Dolly Parton

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Dolly Parton appeared in a very brief cameo role as herself in the 2005 sequel, Miss Congeniality 2 - Armed and Fabulous. 

In the scene, Dolly is chased by Sandra Bullock's FBI agent after she mistakenly believes the real Dolly is a drag queen impersonator wanted in connection for a crime. 

It was a tongue-in-cheek appearance for Dolly, who has joked about her exaggerated looks in the past, even revealing she once took part in a Dolly Parton lookalike contest - and lost. 

"They had a bunch of Chers and Dollys that year, so I just over-exaggerated — made my beauty mark bigger, the eyes bigger, the hair bigger, everything," she told ABC. “All these beautiful drag queens had worked for weeks and months getting their clothes. So I just got in the line and I just walked across… but I got the least applause."

Michael Jackson - Men in Black 2

Michael Jackson

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One of the most famous people to ever walk the planet, King of Pop Michael Jackson shocked fans when he appeared as one of the Men in Black for the sci-fi sequel in 2002. 

Director Barry Sonnenfeld told the BBC, "I very much wanted Michael Jackson to be in the first Men In Black.

"There was a scene in it when we showed all these aliens and George Lucas, Sylvester Stallone, Danny De Vito and Steven Spielberg were all there and I really wanted Michael to be in it.

But for some reason, he didn't want to be considered as an alien in Men In Black I."

After seeing the first movie, MJ reportedly requested a chance to be in the second film - and he got his wish in one of the most surprising cameos!

Bruce Willis - Ocean's Twelve

Bruce Willis

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The Ocean's movies are already stacked with celebrities - George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and so on... - but Bruce Willis' involvement in Ocean's Twelve was slightly different as he was playing himself. 

Bruce, playing Bruce, runs into Julia Roberts' character, Tess - only Tess is pretending to be Julia Roberts. It's a fun, tongue-in-cheek moment in the stylish sequel. 

Cate Blanchett - Hot Fuzz

Cate Blanchett

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She's one of the most decorated actresses of all time, but Hollywood superstar Cate Blanchett took a minor (very minor!) role in Edgar Wright's comedy, Hot Fuzz. 

So minor that many people don't even realise it's the Oscar-winning star behind the mask. The star of Tar and Notes on a Scandal shows up in one of the first scenes in the movie, where she plays Nicholas Angel’s (Simon Pegg) ex-girlfriend.

Per The Digital Fix, that was part of the joke. "Let’s get an Oscar winner in there but not see her face," the director said.

Kylie Minogue - Moulin Rouge!

Kylie Minogue

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In 2001's lavish musical, Moulin Rouge!, Nicole Kidman wasn't the only famous Aussie on screen. 

Pop icon Kylie Minogue - credited as Australia's best-selling musician of all time - appears in a brief cameo in one of our favourite forgotten celeb roles. Kylie's role is credited as 'The Little Green Fairy' and she is a metaphorical image of the mind-bending effects of absinthe. 

Cher - Will & Grace

Cher slapping Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) in Will and Grace

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Cher is no stranger to acting - having won an Oscar for Moonstruck - but her appearance in the sitcom Will & Grace was much shorter and sweeter. 

Owing to her status as a gay icon, the show's character, Jack McFarland, is obsessed with Cher. He even carries a doll around of the musician, which his friends consider odd. 

Well, even Cher agrees. In the memorable clip, Cher tells Jack to get a grip - but Jack mistakes her for a drag queen impersonator. 

In a hilarious nod to her Moonstruck role, Cher recreates the classic slap she originally delivered to Nicolas Cage. 

Victoria Beckham - Ugly Betty

Victoria Beckham

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In 2007, America was gripped by Beckham mania. David Beckham had started his soccer career with LA Galaxy and Victoria had starred in a TV special about their move to the States. 

The country was obsessed with the British icons, and Victoria capitalised on this with an appearance in Ugly Betty. 

Victoria played herself, and she was the worst Maid of Honour in history, eclipsing Wilhelmina Slater's (Vanessa Williams) spotlight and pushing her own brand deals throughout her duties. 

Donald Trump - Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Donald Trump

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His politics divide the world, but Donald Trump's mastery of self-promotion is hard to dispute. 

The business-tycoon-turned-President has always been able to conjure up his own pop culture clout, and he's held cameo appearances in the likes of Sex and the City and Zoolander. 

One of his most memorable cameos was in Home Alone 2, when he points the young Kevin McCallister the right way in the Plaza Hotel. 

While director Christopher Columbus suggested Donald Trump demanded the cameo, the former president said on his social media platform Truth Social, that the film’s production team were "begging me to make a cameo appearance."

Trump said, "They rented the Plaza Hotel in New York, which I owned at the time. I was very busy and didn’t want to do it. They were very nice, but above all, persistent.

"I agreed, and the rest is history! That little cameo took off like a rocket and the movie was a big success, and still is, especially around Christmas time. People call me whenever it is aired."

Prince - New Girl

Prince and Zooey Deschanel from New Girl

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The legendary Prince appeared in the sitcom New Girl - and his 2014 appearance brought in a staggering 26.3 million viewers. 

Per NME, New Girl's Zooey Deschanel explained how it all happened - and the surprising demand he made. 

"I got a cold email from his manager, and it was like the most on-brand Prince email ever - like too on-brand. It was like, ‘Hello, I am manager to legendary artist Prince. He is loving the show New Girl. He would like 2 B’ — you know, like, 2 B — ‘on the show.’ And I’m like, ‘This has to be a prank. There’s no way!'"

Turns out, it was real!  But he had one demand - he'd appear if no Kardashians did.

"It turns out that someone from Prince’s camp said ‘Who are the celebrities? I hope it’s not a Kardashian’. It’s really sad because Khloe Kardashian and Kris Jenner had very kindly come in and shot [a] scene… I felt so bad because obviously everyone had gone out of their way to be there on that day, but Prince was running the show."

The crew had to gather all the evidence that the Kardashians were ever set to appear and burned them in a bonfire.

Lindsay Lohan - Ugly Betty

America Ferrera and Lindsay Lohan from a scene in Ugly Betty

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Less a cameo and more a guest appearance, Lindsay Lohan's short story arc was one of the most memorable in Ugly Betty's four seasons. 

Appearing in four episodes in 2008, Lindsay played a former bully of Betty's, who joins Betty's workplace and starts to outshine her. 

Lindsay's appearances were reportedly cut short, and this chapter of her life was blighted with arrests and other troubles. However, members of the crew defended her appearance. 

Per MTV, Ugly Betty actress Becki Newton (who played Amanda) said, "We had a great time shooting [with Lindsay]. I'm not sure how many episodes she did, but if you watch the show, you'll see that her storyline ended exactly the way it was supposed to end, and we had a great experience filming with her."

David Bowie - Zoolander

David Bowie and Ben Stiller from Zoolander

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David Bowie broke all the rules when it came to fashion - so it was both a total surprise and perfectly logical when he appeared in Zoolander,  a send-up of the modelling world. 

The icon appeared as the judge of a "walk-off" between models Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson).

In 2016, Ben Stiller tweeted along with fans during a rewatch of the 2001 movie and wrote, "Can’t believe David Bowie actually did this. We were all in shock. #AskZoolander."

Jaclyn Smith - Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

Jaclyn Smith

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Jaclyn Smith was the only original female lead of Charlie's Angels to remain with the series for its complete run. 

With the franchise's reboot introducing Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore as the all-action female spies in 2000, Jaclyn made a beloved return in a cameo appearance for the film's 2003 sequel. 

Jaclyn appears to Drew Barrymore's character during a time of need, giving her the motivation she needs to return to her fellow Angels.

Donatella Versace - Zoolander

Donatella Versace

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Fashion empress Donatella Versace blessed the 2001 movie, Zoolander, with some serious fashion clout. 

The Italian designer appears as herself in a short cameo, walking arm-in-arm with the male model, Derek Zoolander. 

Lady Gaga - Gossip Girl

Lady GaGa on the Grammys Red Carpet, 2022

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Lady Gaga broke out in 2008 with her debut single, Just Dance, and since then she has gone on to become a conquering force in music, acting and fashion. 

Proving that the future Oscar-winner was happy to pay her dues, in 2009, she made a small cameo in the TV series, Gossip Girl. 

In the episode, titled The Last Days of Disco Stick, the show's queen bee Blair Waldorf showcases her trademark wealth and status by having actual Gaga appear during a performance for her college class. 

Playing herself, the singer performed her track, Bad Romance. 

Vera Wang - Ugly Betty

Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams) and Vera Wang in Ugly Betty

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In Ugly Betty, Wilhelmina Slater was a centre of gravity in the fashion world - so her wedding brought out the crème de la crème of the industry. Not only is her 2007 wedding episode a chance to include a cameo from Victoria Beckham as Maid of Honour, designer Vera Wang appears as herself. 

As well as making a cameo appearance, Vera Wang actually designed the wedding dress worn by Wilhelmina (Vanessa Williams). It was made from ivory charmeuse fabric and featured a dramatic train and appliqué details on the neckline.

Kim Cattrall - And Just Like That

Kim Cattrall

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Though the secret was seemingly spoiled, the surprise appearance of Kim Cattrall (briefly) reprising her Sex and the City character sent fans into meltdown. 

After playing the outspoken Samantha Jones in the original six seasons of the HBO series, plus the two movies, Kim Cattrall didn't want to return for the spin-off series, And Just Like That. 

There was plenty of discourse around feuds and fallings out with co-star Sarah Jessica Parker, so fans gave up on ever seeing Samantha Jones again. However, in the finale of the second series, the character calls up Carrie. 

Kim didn't actually film any scenes with her former co-stars, but the appearance remained a short and oh-so-sweet moment for fans of the franchise. 

Lindsay Lohan - Mean Girls (2024)

Lindsay Lohan

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In the most pleasing of surprise cameos for fans of the original 2004 Mean Girls, Lindsay Lohan returns at the end of the 2024 musical movie adaptation. 

Lindsay appears at the climax of the movie when the character she originally played - Cady - is competing with the mathletes. 

Lindsay plays the host of the competition and moderates the tie-breaking question between the two teams. The question is about limits - and fans will remember the answer from the memorable line, "the limit does not exist!"

Betty White - 30 Rock

Betty White

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The late Betty White was one of the undisputed queens of television. 

Having starred in the legendary sitcom, Golden Girls, she cemented her legacy as the lovable-but-not-bright Rose Nylund. Other work included The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Hot in Cleveland. 

In 2009, however, Betty proved her true comic prowess by sending up her sweet image. 

For the hilarious 30 Rock, the character of Tracy Jordan fears he might die next following the apparent celebrity rule of three - where famous people die in threes. This sees him try to do things like hit Jimmy Fallon with a hammer, plus he calls up Betty White to check on her health. 

Betty gives a hilarious turn, turning acerbic and promises to outlive Tracy, shouting, "I’m going to be at your funeral. I will bury you."

Lucy Liu - Sex and the City

Lucy Liu

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In Sex and the City, hardly anyone was a match for the fiery Samantha Jones... until Lucy Liu's shocking cameo. 

Playing herself, Lucy considers hiring Samantha to be her PR rep. However, a bad encounter involving a Birkin bag sees the sassy Samantha dropping a few expletives. 

Finding out, Lucy Liu delivers a verbal takedown of Samantha in a truly hilarious scene-stealing cameo.

Lucy's episode was season four's Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda. 

Oprah - 30 Rock

Oprah Winfrey

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30 Rock - a TV show about putting on a TV show - was the brainchild of Saturday Night Live icon Tina Fey. 

Considered one of the best-written comedies of all time, the show's reputation helped net some of the most jaw-dropping cameo appearances of all time, with everyone from Betty White to Sir Paul McCartney appearing. 

One such memorable cameo included *the* Oprah Winfrey in 2008. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) believes she's sat next to Oprah on a flight, and, playing up to her reputation as the ultimate guru, Oprah solves all her problems. 

Brooke Shields - Friends

Brooke Shields with Matt LeBlanc for an episode of Friends

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In the iconic sitcom's second series, fashion model and actress Brooke Shields appeared in the episode titled, The One After the Superbowl: Part 1. 

Brooke played Erika Ford, a woman so infatuated with Matt LeBlanc's character Joey Tribianni, or in this case, the character he played in a fictional soap.

Per Fox News, Brooke revealed she really enjoyed going all in for the role. 

"In the scene, I’m supposed to lick Joey’s fingers, because they’re the hands of a genius, and I want to devour them, and I’m a nut."

"I throw my head back in this cackle. We had done it in rehearsal, and they said, ‘It’s too crazy. Don’t do it.’ And I begged for it. 'It’s so funny. It just makes her crazier. And she’s pretty, so she needs to really be crazy.' And they were, like, ‘No, no.’ We did the first take, and it was fine. And then the second take, they scream, 'Shields! Put it back in!'"

Courteney Cox - Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark video

Courteney Cox for Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark music video

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She was in Friends, one of the biggest TV shows of all time, and starred in iconic franchises like the Scream movies. But one of Courteney Cox's first experiences with showbiz was a cameo in Bruce Springsteen's music video for Dancing in the Dark.

Per NME, Courteney told Howard Stern of auditioning for it, "I thought I was in the wrong place. I was like, ‘I don’t know what they’re doing but I can’t even bend my leg. This is it.'"

"I went into Brian De Palma’s office. He put on the music and said, ‘Well, you dance.’ And I thought, ‘Right now? Here? In front of you? Just the two of us?’

“I think that’s why I got it because I was like, Okay!’ I think that’s what they wanted, a fan that just couldn’t believe it,” she added.

Joan Collins - Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Joan Collins

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Absolutely Fabulous is one of the most beloved British sitcoms of all time, so when writer and star Jennifer Saunders finally confirmed a movie was coming in 2016, fans expected star power. 

And they got it. As well as the return of Patsy and Eddie (Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders, respectively) the movie boasted over 60 A-list cameos including Kate Moss, Jon Hamm and Jerry Hall.

One of the most amusing cameos was Dame Joan Collins. The legend appeared multiple times in a scene set in the South of France. When the police look for Patsy and Eddie in a hotel, every single guest unmasked by the cops have the same face -  Joan Collins'.

Most of the fashion industry - Pret a Porter

Kate Moss walking the runway during the 1994 movie, Pret a Porter

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In terms of cameos-per-minute, you'd be hard-pressed to find a movie which measures up to Robert Altman's 1994 movie, Pret a Porter (Ready to Wear). 

Kate Moss is just one of the fashion titans included in the movie.

The film boasts cameo appearances from the likes of designers Jean-Paul Gaultier (and Björk as his model), Thierry Mugler, Sonia Rykiel, Christian LaCroix, Gianfranco Ferré, and Issey Miyake. 

Models including Christy Turlington, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Carla Bruni, and Naomi Campbell also appear.

Sarah Ferguson - Friends

Matt LeBlanc, Sarah Ferguson and Matthew Perry

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Friends was already a global phenomenon when the Manhattan-based sitcom jetted over to London in 1998 for special episodes following Ross' wedding to British fiancée Emily. 

While soaking up the best of London, Joey (Matt LeBlanc) runs into none other than Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. 

In I'll Be There for You: The One About Friends, Kelsey Miller writes that the Duchess had been "coaxed into the appearance by her daughters" Beatrice and Eugenie, who were huge fans of the show. 

The writer also suggests Fergie's appearance - which saw her call Joey's touristy hat "kind of dashing" - helped her recover some popularity with the public after "Fergie-bashing had become a national pastime."

Queen Elizabeth II - the Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony

Queen Elizabeth posing behind a BAFTA award

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Directed by Danny Boyle, the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics was televised around the world on July 27, 2012.

Defying all expectations, the Opening Ceremony was considered an undisputed triumph - and no effort was spared in making it so. Even the late Queen played her part. 

In a surprise to everyone, the actual monarch made a special cameo alongside Daniel Craig playing legendary spy, James Bond.

Making the scene even more fun was the fact that the Queen kept her role secret from her family.

Per The Independent, production stage manager Sam Hunter told broadcaster Kirsty Wark, "The Queen never told her family she was doing it. That was one of the stipulations when she agreed to be part of it.”

Hunter also added when you view the ceremony, you can see the surprise of her family members as they witnessed the cameo for the first time with the rest of the world. 

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.