8 Best Movie Moments Where a Character Looked Directly at the Camera

Throughout the overwhelming majority of movies in over 100 years of cinema, film characters have stayed true to a simple and practical industry standard: pretending the audience isn’t there. This technique is so commonplace that an audience usually does not think twice about it. And why should they? This style is ingrained in the hundreds (or even thousands) of films many of us have engrossed ourselves in over the course of our lives. This way of creating art is done in all movie genres and even crosses over into television, theater, and other entertainment realms.

That being said, some films have challenged this status quo. In a break from traditional norms, some characters have broken down the fourth wall and included the audience as part of the movie. Perhaps a character acts as a narrator of the story being told onscreen or has some type of special power to communicate that other lesser characters within that film are unable to inhabit. Either way, this rare phenomenon of having characters look directly at the camera on purpose as part of the storytelling process in non-documentary films is a valuable tool in the right owner’s hands. In order to document these special occurrences, here are the eight best movie moments where a character looked directly at the camera.


8 Wayne’s World

“We are not worthy!” The Saturday Night Live comedy skit turned Hollywood film Wayne’s World is a hilarious look at the lives of the characters Wayne Campbell (played by Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (portrayed by Dana Carvey). The two rock and roll fans (and public access television hosts) end up on a mission to reunite Wayne with his girlfriend Cassandra (Tia Carrere) and get her band a record contract. Besides being a critical and commercial hit, it’s still ranked as the highest-grossing film based on an SNL sketch (out of 11 films) and even spawned a sequel, Wayne’s World 2. The movie is filled with roles by well-known actors and has numerous cameos: Chris Farley, Meat Loaf, Ed O’Neill, Robert Patrick (portraying his role of the T-1000 from the then-recently released hit blockbuster film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day), and rock legend Alice Cooper all appear. Rob Lowe and Laura Flynn-Boyle co-star.

Wayne’s World may be best known for the numerous catchphrases it added to pop culture (like “that’s what she said,” and “shwing !,” for example) and the head-banging car performance of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Wayne and his friends, which catapulted the song back up to # 2 on the music charts less than a year after the death of Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury. During the film, both Wayne and Garth talk directly to the camera, explaining their feelings and desires multiple times.

Related: Best Chris Farley Movies, Ranked

7 Spaceballs

Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs did something perhaps no other mainstream film had ever attempted before. The characters openly discuss being in the movie like it had already finished and been released while still in the middle of the actual movie. In order to come to a solution to their evil plan to collect oxygen from planet Druidia, the Darth Vader-esque character played by Rick Moranis (Dark Helmet) listens to an idea from Colonel Sanders (portrayed by George Wyner and meant to be a joke about the famous fast-food chicken entrepreneur of the same name). As the film was released in the 1980s, Sanders recommends pulling out a copy of a Spaceballs VHS tape and the team rewinds the film to the spot where both the movie and what they’re currently doing at that moment are happening in real-time. At this point, the characters make comments directly to the camera. The film also stars John Candy, Bill Pullman, Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, and Joan Rivers.

6 Goodfellas

In perhaps Ray Liotta’s most iconic role, Goodfellas is based on a true story (and the rise and fall) of a gangster named Henry Hill and one of the most daring heists in American history. Goodfellas was nominated for six Academy Awards and is widely regarded as one of the best films of all time. It’s even been preserved in the National Film Registry for the United States Library of Congress due to its legendary status. This film also stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, and Samuel L. Jackson. One memorable scene appears at the very end of the movie when Liotta explains his fate directly to the camera after ratting out his fellow “made men” in the courtroom.

5 High Fidelity

John Cusack stars as Rob Gordon in High Fidelity, a romantic comedy following Gordon’s music-obsessed life. Gordon decides in order to work on himself, he must understand what made his past romantic relationships fail by seeking out his old partners for clarity. Cusack speaks directly to the camera from the first scene of the film when he’s breaking up with his girlfriend Laura, while also directly interacting with each character he comes across during the movie. High Fidelity also stars Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Lisa Bonet, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Tim Robbins. A television show based on this movie (which was originally based on a book) is available for streaming on Hulu and stars actress Zoë Kravitz, the real-life daughter of Lisa Bonet, as well as rock star Lenny Kravitz.

4 American Psycho

Christian Bale plays narcissistic banking executive Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Bateman regularly breaks into monologues all while planning grisly murders of his victims, which he is yet to be caught for. To most, Bateman is seen as a successful businessman, but behind closed doors inside his home, it’s a different story altogether. Bateman is competitive to a fault with his associates (obsessing on who has the best business cards in the office for example) and does not shy away from talking directly to the camera when he wants to narrate what’s on his mind. While the movie can be very dark at times, there’s a comedic side to Bateman’s mannerisms and words throughout, leading to arguably one of Bale’s best roles in a very successful career so far.

Related: These Are the Best Christian Bale Movies, Ranked

3 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Considered one of the standard-bearers of American film in the 1980s, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the story about Ferris Bueller (played by Matthew Broderick), a high school senior who is known for his skill of cutting classes and getting away with it. In one final grand plan, Bueller decides to cut class one more time, borrow a Ferrari, and take an adventure around Chicago, which culminates in being part of a parade downtown. His high school principal is determined to catch him in the act, however, so Bueller and his friends must outsmart the principal on their trek to enjoy their day. Bueller regularly reveals his plans directly to the camera in multiple parts of the movie.

2 Fight Club

Fight Club is considered by many to be one of the best cult films of all time. The movie stars Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Meat Loaf (in his second appearance on this list). The story revolves around a depressed man (Norton) who befriends a soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Pitt). The two quickly bond and start an underground fight club with strict rules everyone who joins must abide by. The group grows in size and Norton begins to find himself at odds with Pitt’s Durden. Norton’s character is never officially given a name and is known as The Narrator for the purposes of the film. Fight Club breaks the fourth wall to have The Narrator explain who Tyler Durden is.

1 Deadpool

While it’s debatable which film does the best job of having their characters look directly at the camera to advance the story, perhaps no other film in cinematic history uses this technique for comedic effect better than Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds is perhaps the perfect choice for the sarcastic yet tough Wade Wilson, an anti-hero who’s looking for revenge against the man who turned him into a disfigured mutant. In Deadpool, it often feels like no subject is off-limits or too taboo to be addressed if it means it can make the audience laugh. For example, at one point Deadpool (Reynolds) asks if Professor X will be portrayed by “James McAvoy or Patrick Stewart.” This X-Men spinoff film proved extremely successful and looks to show no signs of slowing down, with Deadpool 3per Digital Spyalready confirmed to be on the horizon.

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