Video: Tim Burton's Lesser-Known Acting Career

Tim Burton is best known for directing movies like Beetlejuice, Big Fish and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which opens this weekend.

But he also has a few acting credits on his resume that you might not know about - and some he probably doesn't want to bring up.  Here are his best moments in front of the camera.

1. Thug in Alley

Tim Burton's big break as a director came in 1985 when he helmed Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. And it was also his big break as an actor - well, more like an extra with lines. In one scene, a distraught Pee-Wee is accosted by a gang of thugs in a rainy alley. The one who yells at Herman is none other than Burton.

2. Dating Video Director

Cameron Crowe's 1992 Gen X rom-com Singles featured a cast of twenty-somethings struggling to find love and companionship in grunge-era Seattle. One of the most hapless singletons in the film was Debbie Hunt (Sheila Kelley), whose desperation to snag a beau resulted in filming a dating video. If you're not familiar with those, they're basically low-tech Tinder. People filmed video pitches to potential mates that were circulated on VHS tape. Here's a supercut of real dating videos if you want to see how awkward and sometimes unsettling they could be.

Director Crowe spoofed the cultural phenomenon by having Debbie film an avant-garde dating vid directed by a shyster named Adam, who was played by by Tim Burton. Here's his brief cameo.

And here's the mock dating video. 

3. Corpse

Some roles for extras are more glamorous than others. But Tim Burton was a good sport when he crawled into a coffin and laid around on set to play a corpse in Danny DeVito's 1992 drama Hoffa. Luckily he had a chance to show some life on screen in this behind-the-scenes feature. 


Banner image: Gage Skidmore / 


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