Ever since John Wick himself popped into the trailer for Ali Wong and Randall Park’s new comedy Always Be My Maybe, coming out May 31, as the ultimate other guy—oozing sexuality, sporting tinted sunglasses and a thin scarf with no regard—it got us thinking about the power of the well-executed rom-com cameo. From early credits to bit parts that stood the test of time, these are the walk-on roles that will make you say, “Oh right, Jim Parsons was in that Zach Braff movie!”
1. Jim Parsons in Garden State
It’s difficult to think of a time before the world knew Jim Parsons as Dr. Sheldon Cooper, but years before The Big Bang Theory, Parsons had a small but memorable role in Zach Braff’s Garden State. Parsons played Tim, an old high school classmate of Andrew (Braff) and Mark (Peter Sarsgaard) who was dating Tim’s mother (Jean Smart). Oh yeah, Sheldon Cooper had game even when wearing a full knight’s costume.
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor in Love Actually
The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln had less facial hair and more of a British accent when he declared his love for Keira Knightley, but it would still take someone pretty special for the actress to turn down Lincoln. That someone special was future Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, who counts Love Actually as one of the only rom-coms on his impressive IMDb page.
3. Octavia Spencer in Never Been Kissed
You know the premise: Drew Barrymore returns to high school as an undercover reporter. To get the high school do-over she desperately wanted and shed the reputation that dogged her and earned her the nickname Josie Grossie she was counselled by her friends and co-workers, played by Molly Shannon and a then-unknown future Oscar winner Octavia Spencer in this 1999 rom-com classic.
4. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in Knocked Up
Judd Apatow always packs an incredible list of comedians and actors throughout his (usually super-long) films. In Knocked Up, one of those hidden gems was Kristen Wiig, whose short time on screen as one of Katherine Heigl’s network bosses is as hilarious as it is quick. Apatow thought so too and asked her to pitch him something, which ultimately became the box office sensation Bridesmaids. Bill Hader also popped up as a video editor in the film, which is fitting since he used to work as a video editor for E! and recognized some former co-workers while shooting Knocked Up. Awkward.
5. Jason Segel in Can’t Hardly Wait
Before Jason Segel was writing and starring in his own successful studio comedies and one of the leads on a long-running network sitcom, he was playing the uncredited ‘Watermelon Guy’ in the loveable 1998 teen flick Can’t Hardly Wait. We wonder if his character description is a reference to Dirty Dancing?
6. Chloë Grace Moretz in (500) Days of Summer
Someone had to talk sense into Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s romance-obsessed Tom in (500) Days of Summer. That task went to Tom’s little sister Rachel, the no-nonsense, wise-beyond-her-years Chloë Grace Moretz. Take it from Rachel—being into the same weird stuff doesn’t make someone your soul mate. Preach.
7. Taylor Swift in Valentine’s Day
Back when Taylor (Swift) was dating Taylor (Lautner) IRL, she was also dating him in the celebrity-stuffed Valentine’s Day. The Grammy winner made one of her few acting appearances in the 2010 film, with the couple’s real-life breakup later inspiring the song “Back To December,” which was much better than Valentine’s Day. #Sorrynotsorry.
8. Jim Gaffigan in Going the Distance
The 2010 rom-com starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long as two 20-somethings trying to make a long-distance relationship work is one of the most underrated films in the genre. It also features supporting, and hilarious, turns by Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Christina Applegate and comedian Jim Gaffigan, who hilariously plays the straight-man hubby to Applegate’s A-type wife, before he became a stand-up stalwart.
9. Dave Chappelle in You’ve Got Mail
Dave Chappelle’s role as Bradley Cooper’s best friend in A Star Is Born may have been a bit of a head-scratcher for the comedic actor, but it’s not the first time Chappelle has taken on a (slightly) more dramatic role. He also played Tom Hanks’ close pal in You’ve Got Mail.
10. Josh Groban in Crazy, Stupid, Love
We’ll admit there are few people who can stand up to Ryan Gosling and his abs in Crazy, Stupid, Love, but Josh Groban gives it his best shot. Ultimately, Emma Stone runs right into Gosling’s arms, and Dirty Dancing-style lift, after leaving her clueless boyfriend, played by Groban. He must not have sung for her.
11. Sara Gilbert in High Fidelity
The 2000 rom-com for music lovers, is filled with memorable performances from John Cusack, Jack Black, Lisa Bonet, Catherine Zeta-Jones and more, but one of our favourite moments comes from Sara Gilbert. The Talk and The Conners star makes a small cameo as Anaugh Moss, the woman with the hilarious name who finds love with the introverted Todd Louiso over their mutual affinity for Green Day deep cuts.
12. Rainn Wilson in Juno
In her breakthrough role as pregnant teen Juno, Ellen Page opens the film by consuming her body weight in Sunny D in order to take multiple pregnancy tests. She’s sold the tests by a witty and rhyming convenience store clerk played by The Office’s Wilson. Juno also stars future Oscar winners J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney as Juno’s tough but loving dad and step-mom.
13. Everyone in Almost Famous
Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical music movie had an incredible cast led by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit and Billy Crudup, but it also had a handful of small but impressive roles by up-and-coming actors. Jimmy Fallon booked one of his few acting roles outside of SNL as the manager of the fictional band Sweetwater, while Jay Baruchel, Michael Angarano, podcast king Marc Maron and future Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet all played small but memorable roles.