Why do work for no credit?
July 22, 2007 8:05 PM   Subscribe

Why would a famous actor want to be uncredited in a movie?

I'm watching Oceans Eleven, and I see that Don Cheadle is uncredited for his role as Basher, even though Basher is at least as important as the other non-major co-conspirators.

Why would he be uncredited? One Google answer was that he requested it ... why would an actor request that? It's not like people don't recognize him ... and don't the Actors Equity rules require you to be in the credits in order to get paid properly?

Clearly I know nothing about the entertainment industry. Somebody school me.
posted by mccxxiii to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't answer your question, but I maybe it has something to do with the reason that both Ron Howard and Bob Saget have taken uncredited gigs narrating for TV shows (Arrested Development and How I Met Your Mother, respectively).

I've always thought it was just some kind of inside joke. I'm interested to see what others have to say, though.
posted by folara at 8:20 PM on July 22, 2007

I seem to recall it having to do something with this:
(that the studio was really selling it on the "bigger" names, and perhaps not putting him even on the poster)

"No Credit In Ocean's Ads For Cheadle
14 December 2001 (StudioBriefing)
Although Don Cheadle received no screen for the billboard and newspaper ads for Ocean's Eleven -- he was reportedly angered over the fact that his name was not included alongside the film's biggest stars' -- he has participated in all of the major publicity events involving the film with those stars, including a Barbara Walters' TV special, the Wall Street Journal observed today (Friday)."

From http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0240772/news:
posted by blueberry at 8:35 PM on July 22, 2007

Google search for the poster brings up two versions, both Cheedle-less: A, and B.
(although maybe these were designed after he had his name removed)

posted by blueberry at 8:42 PM on July 22, 2007

Often it comes down to issues between the actor and producers regarding money and billing. It an ego thing.
Other times it's an "official" way to get around other contractual conflicts.

It's interesting to note that he went uncredited for his role in Rush Hour II, which was made near the same time.
Of course, who wouldn't want their name removed from that one?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:44 PM on July 22, 2007

cameos sometimes happen because of IOU's between friends. yes, even major stars have friends. if you give them credit, then you need a contract, then you need to meet SAG criteria (what a headache) and then you need to get your agent involved. it's a hassle. sometimes things just happen on the fly and they (director/producer/actor) don't want to go through all this, sometimes it's an elaborate setup by the talent agent or film producers to garner some extra attention by word of mouth. it gives people something to talk about.
posted by krautland at 8:52 PM on July 22, 2007

On a related note, IMDB says this about the strange billing for Kevin Spacey in Se7en.

"SPOILER: The producers intended that Kevin Spacey should receive top billing at the start of the movie but he insisted that his name not appear in the opening credits, so as to surprise the audience with the identity of the killer. To compensate, he is listed first in the closing credits."

It's a little different, I know, but some actors may deny billing for story purposes.
posted by santojulieta at 11:00 PM on July 22, 2007

As I remember, Robin Williams didn't want to be credited for his role in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (directed by Terry Gilliam) because he hated it so much. He's listed as Ray D. Tutto in the credits, I think. But this could just be for krautland's cameo explanation, above.

The film's awful, in any case.
posted by dowcrag at 1:03 AM on July 23, 2007

Walter Matthau took a bit part as a drunk in Earthquake. He didn't much like the movie when he finally saw it, and was angered that the directors were planning on giving him top billing for publicity purposes (without, of course, paying him more). The story goes that he had his agent and lawyer insist that if he was going to receive billing that they use his 'real name' - Walter Matuschayansky (or some such thing). They billed him as such, but he didn't get top billing since the name wasn't recognizable.

It turned out later that he had made the name up; his birth name was Walter Matthow. But even today there are people who are convinced that the long name was his real name.
posted by watsondog at 1:19 AM on July 23, 2007 [3 favorites]

Not relevant to Don Cheadle's lack of billing for Ocean's Eleven, but to explain things like Robin Williams' psuedonym in Baron Munchausen, read this page on Alan Smithee.
posted by blacklite at 1:25 AM on July 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Edward Norton asked to not be credited in Kingdom of Heaven as his character's (King Baldwin) face is never seen.

So, yeah, the reasons vary. Sometimes it's a legal thing, sometimes it's a studio decision, sometimes it's a personal choice. And not always a negative reflection on the film itself.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:52 AM on July 23, 2007

From the IMDB on Tootsie: "Bill Murray agreed to omit his name from the opening credits to prevent audiences expecting a 'Bill Murray' movie along the lines of Meatballs (1979) or Caddyshack (1980)."
posted by adamrice at 7:01 AM on July 23, 2007

This interview seems to imply that he asks to be uncredited for what he considers less "serious" roles. However, that explains neither Mission to Mars nor Swordfish.

Oddly, he does seem to be credited for the same role in Ocean's Twelve and Thirteen.
posted by Caviar at 2:55 PM on July 24, 2007

There was a Paul Newman film that had a non-billed
Bruce Wilis. I think it was 'Nobody's Fool'. Me thinks it was because they didn't want the audience to think it was a Bruce Wilis vehicle. I could be wrong.
posted by doctorschlock at 8:21 AM on July 25, 2007

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