As any thespian will tell you, acting is Very Serious Work. Asking a performer to recite a famous line of dialogue may get you a glare at best—or a bodyguard pushing you into traffic at worst.
But not all actors are reluctant to reprise famous performances for smaller audiences. Here are six who inhabited signature roles without film cameras rolling.
1. Ron Perlman Raises Hell for Make-A-Wish
Courtesy of Collider
For 2004’s Hellboy and its sequel, Ron Perlman was paid a reasonable sum to endure hours of uncomfortable make-up. For Zachary, a 6 year old battling leukemia, he did it for free.
Zachary’s request for the Make-A-Wish Foundation was to get a visit from the comic book-inspired demon. After being notified by the make-up effects team from the movies, Perlman agreed to undergo the four-hour process and surprise the kid. Spectral Motion, which applied the latex appliances, even got their brushes on Zachary so he could better resemble his hero. Perlman spent the day hanging out and talking shop—horn maintenance, probably—and staked his claim as the nicest hellspawn ever.
2. Gilligan Finally Gets Rescued
Courtesy of SunTimes
Proving that nothing is beyond the scope of the aforementioned Make-A-Wish Foundation, actor Bob Denver agreed to appear in costume as Gilligan in 1992—25 years after Gilligan’s Island had run its course—so he could finally be “rescued” by a group as part of a fundraiser for the venerable charity organization.
Denver stranded himself on an island near the Kanawha River in West Virginia and was picked up by a small cruise ship. Is it canonical? Probably not, but who’s going to argue with fan fiction for a good cause?
3. Johnny Depp Conjures Jack Sparrow
Courtesy of Randomnies
Writing to fictional characters is always a bit of a crapshoot, but 9 year old Beatrice Delap of Greenwich, London, figured she had little to lose mailing a letter to Captain Jack Sparrow to ask for help in a “school mutiny” in 2010. Delap’s class had just visited the nearby set of a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, and a teacher encouraged her to write a letter. She did—addressing it to Sparrow.
During a hastily-arranged school assembly, Johnny Depp appeared in full Captain Jack regalia and led the kids in a pirate song and dance. Addressing Bea’s request, he informed the girl that no mutiny was likely with police waiting outside. While the episode smacks of studio publicity, Pirates producer Jerry Bruckheimer recently told press that Depp actually travels with the Sparrow costume so he can visit children’s hospitals. Good guy, rotten pirate.
4. Helen Mirren Acts Like Royalty
Courtesy of The Huffington Post
Life hasn’t been particularly kind to Oliver Burton, who was born with Down Syndrome and repeatedly diagnosed with cancer. But the 10-year-old’s wish was to meet Queen Elizabeth II. When the Queen’s representatives were unable to arrange a sit-down, actress Helen Mirren stepped in.
Mirren was playing the Queen for a stage show in London’s West End. After a performance, she had tea with Oliver (a butler served them both) and convinced the boy he was meeting the real thing. Before leaving, Mirren “knighted” Oliver and later told press it was an honor to meet “such a brave young man.”
5. Superman George Reeves Tours the Country
Courtesy of MTV
While much has been made of 1950s Superman George Reeves resenting the typecasting brought on by his popular live-action series, the facts run slightly contrary: he was gearing up for another season at the time of his death and seemed amenable to tour the country, making personal appearances as the Man of Steel.
The live events were a little more elaborate than simple meet-and-greets. Paired with stuntman Gene LeBell as evil “Mr. Kryptonite,” Reeves would engage in wrestling matches in costume, eventually overcoming LeBell and making himself available for pictures. Presumably, the children were too star-struck to ask why Superman had to resort to a grappling match to overcome his foe.
6. Robert Englund Weighs In as Freddy Krueger
Courtesy of New Line Cinema
For their long-anticipated Freddy vs. Jason film, which brought the two horror icons onscreen after a decade of development in 2003, New Line Cinema came up with an audacious publicity ploy: have the two “weigh in” at a Las Vegas hotel to mimic the pageantry of a big-time boxing match.
Robert Englund—who played char-broiled Freddy Krueger in nearly a dozen television and film projects—donned the latex make-up and eyeballed “Jason”; the two had to be pulled apart by officials, then took questions from “press.” For an added dose of realism, longtime boxing announcer Michael Buffer was even on hand to make the introductions. For the record, Freddy was a betting underdog: the film (spoiler alert) had it as a draw.