Brad Pitt may be one of Hollywood's biggest stars, but the one thing I've always liked is how he is willing to subvert the expectations of his screen persona. Just take his role in "Kalifornia," possibly the most '90s movie of the big 1990s serial killer trend. It came just two years after he'd wowed everyone with his breezy charisma, acting ability, sunny good looks, and impeccable pecs as a charming hustler in "Thelma & Louise." It was a breakthrough role for Pitt, but even at that early stage of his career, he refused to be typecast. So in "Kalifornia" he played a scuzzy redneck murderer on the road with a yuppie couple (Michelle Forbes and David Duchovny) and his naive trailer trash girlfriend. (Juliette Lewis, who else?)

As his career progressed beyond Peak-Pitt and his high-profile relationships with Jennifer Anniston and Angelina Jolie, he still refused to rest on his laurels. One of his most underrated performances came when he played determinedly against type in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," playing a disciplinarian Texan dad who looked more like D-FENS from "Falling Down" than the heartthrob image of his younger years.

Then you have the cameos. Pitt seemed to realize early on that a small memorable role could be more talked about than a big ordinary one. A case in point is his small scene-stealing turn as stoner housemate Floyd in "True Romance," which has surely generated more love and web space than his standard leading-man performance in "World War Z." Add to that leftfield cameos in "Friends," "King of the Hill," and horsing around with Johnny Knoxville and the gang in the "Jackass" TV series, and you've got a canny superstar who knows how to make his presence truly felt. All those examples pale in comparison, however, next to his shocking cameo in "Deadpool 2."

Deadpool 2 Delighted In Wrong-Footing The Audience

The original "Deadpool" was a tough act to follow. As someone who grew tired of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after about two movies, it felt like a breath of fresh air. I laughed my guts up at the cinema, and I wasn't the only one: Ryan Reynolds' fourth-wall-breaking meta send-up of superhero flicks was an incredible box office success, becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time (a title that has since been claimed by "Joker").

By its self-reflexive nature, "Deadpool" felt like it should have been a one-and-done poke in the eye for the larger and more self-serious Marvel juggernaut, but with numbers like that, there was no way there wouldn't be a sequel. "Deadpool 2" certainly gave it a good shot, lacking the original's pure vulgar sense of anarchy but still packing in plenty of snark for the viewer's buck.

The film's standout moment was a jaw-dropping set piece joke that was cleverly prepped well in advance by the trailers. We get the gist that this time around Deadpool is trying to save a gifted kid from the menacing Cable, played of course by Josh Brolin. In preparation, he puts together his own team of superheroes called X-Force for the dangerous mission, including Bedlam (Terry Crews), Domino (Zazie Beetz), and a mysterious invisible character called Vanisher.

The marketing campaign was cleverly put together to amp up the X-Force's role in the movie, wrong-footing audiences for a glorious prank. The team skydives in to intercept Cable but, spoiler alert, they don't even make it to the ground alive as they all die in a variety of gory ways as their grand entrance goes disastrously awry. Among the fatalities is Vanisher, who has the misfortune to drift onto high-voltage power cables. Then, for a brief moment, we get to see him. And it's only Brad Pitt.

Brad Pitt's Cameo Confused The Studio

After the success of the original "Deadpool" movie, it only took a phone call from Ryan Reynolds to get Brad Pitt on board for his wordless blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo. It also helped smooth things along that the director was David Leitch, who was Pitt's stunt double in movies like "Fight Club."

Understandably, 20th Century Fox Studios was jazzed by the idea that a star of Pitt's caliber would be playing one of the X-Force. Appearing on "The Tonight Show" in 2018, Reynolds explained:

"The second one, it was great because it's always fun to pitch to the studio because we have a whole sequence in the movie with this team. Deadpool builds a team, the X-Force, and the studio was like, 'Yes! Synergy! Avengers! Like that's what we're gonna get out of this! It's gonna be great!' and I was like, 'Yeah! They're all amazing. They're all like, super huge stars. It's gonna be awesome. Brad Pitt's gonna do it,' and they were like, 'Wait. Hold on. Back up. Brad Pitt's gonna do this?!'"

According to Reynolds, the studio's excitement turned to bewilderment when they realized that while Pitt was in the movie, he would be playing a character that audiences wouldn't hear or see. At least, until he meets his demise giving us a silly look of pain as he grips a high-voltage power line.

As it turned out, Pitt's superstardom was exactly what made the cheeky fleeting cameo work so well, uniting audiences across the globe in a gasp of "Holy crap, it's Brad Pitt!" And if there ever was a cameo that became a water cooler moment in an otherwise mediocre movie, this was it. Nice guy that he is, Reynolds repaid the favor by putting in a cameo in Pitt's ho-hum action thriller "Bullet Train," but that's another spoiler alert.

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