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LiterList #2: Writers Who Have Made Appearances in Films

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Obviously, film adaptations of novels have been with us basically since the beginning of film-time. While it's not unusual for a great writer to have his or her work appear on screen, it is somewhat unusual for a great writer to appear on screen themselves whether it be in their film/novel or another.

In this, our second LiterList, we take a look at Writers Who Have Made Appearances In Films. Video clips with comments below. And don't worry, we will continue to expand LiterList #1.

Writer: Marshall McLuhan as himself
Film: "Annie Hall" (1977)
This might be the most famous example of a writer appearing in a movie. In this case, in order to support Woody Allen's assertion that the gentleman behind him in line doesn't know anything about Marshall McLuhan.

Writer: Kurt Vonnegut as himself
Film: "Back To School" (1986)
Just like McLuhan, Kurt Vonnegut plays himself as he comes to the rescue of Rodney Dangerfield in "Back to School". However, his efforts to write a paper about Kurt Vonnegut netted Dangerfield a failing grade plus an accusation of plagiarism from Professor Sally Kellerman who, adding insult to injury, proclaims that whomever did write it "doesn't know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut." Watch out for bad curse words at the end of the clip as Rodney expresses his displeasure with Vonnegut over the phone. 

Writer: Charles Bukowski as an extra
Film: "Barfly" (1987)
One of the more subtle appearances of a writer, Bukowski plays an extra but you could say he was playing himself – a drunk at a bar – in this scene from "Barfly" starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway. He's sitting closest to Dunaway in the opening of this scene and at around 1:15 the camera lingers on him after it follows Rourke down the bar. 

Writer: Hunter S. Thompson as himself
Film: "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998)
In this film the fictional Hunter S. Thompson, in a pitch-perfect performance by Johnny Depp, meets the real Hunter S. Thompson in a flashback to the San Francisco scene he was a part of in the '60s. In this clip, Hunter S. makes an appearance on the set and interacts with director Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python fame) and Depp before shooting his scene. Also, some bad, naughty words in this one too. 

Writer: William S. Burroughs as Father Murphy
Film: "Drugstore Cowboy" (1989)
The great, strange writer William S. Burroughs shows that he can not only write creepy/ awesome books but he can also play a creepy/awesome junky priest beside Matt Dillon in "Drugstore Cowboy". Burroughs has a creaky, hip way of speaking that makes his self-read audio books almost hypnotic. His bits about narcotics (3:36) are pure Burroughsian prose(ian). Be careful: bad drug words, too (surprise, considering the title). 

Other writers who have made film appearances:
Norman Mailer – as Stanford White in "Ragtime", which is not as famous as the video of his wrestling match with a young Rip Torn (about :54 in). Again, bad words and whatnot. 

Arthur C. Clarke – as a man on a park bench in "2010: Odyssey"

S.E. Hinton – as a nurse in "The Outsiders"

Stephenie Meyer – as an extra eating at a diner in "Twilight"


About the Author
A Juilliard-trained writer, Kevin Kizer has fought against numerous world-champion writers during his career, besting the reigning middle weight writing champion in an exhibition bout in Helsinki in 1976. He also played a crucial role on the U.S. gold-medal winning writing team during the 1984 Pan-Am games, where he came off the bench in dramatic fashion to write the winning prepositional phrase just as time expired.