A small part played by a well-known actor in a film or a play.
Cameo is an appearance by a well-known person in a work of art. These brief performances are often given by celebrities, musicians, athletes and politicians. It is not uncommon for performers to appear as their real-life self, though embedded in the narrative. The cameo generally fills a role that would otherwise be played by an extra or walk-on, and so they are often used as a kind of visual punchline or surprise.
Alfred Hitchcock famously made cameo appearances in the majority of the films he directed, a tradition that Quentin Tarantino has continued in the modern age of cinema. While predominantly occurring in film, theatre or television, cameo appearances are not limited to the performing arts. Vladimir Nabokov often wrote himself into his novels using minor characters based on anagrams of his name such as Vivian Darkbloom, a character in Lolita.
Pop star Ed Sheeran recently made headlines for appearing in fantasy HBO series Game of Thrones. While some have criticized the cameo as unnecessary, the director of the episode for the fantasy epic has come to his defence, stating that Sheeran “fits into the fabric of the show”.
1 THEATRE, CINEMA a small part played by a well-known actor in a film or play
a cameo role/appearance/performance
2 a piece of jewellery with a raised design, usually in the shape of a woman’s head, on a background of a different colour