March 24, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

The best and worst cameo

The acting bug has reached epidemic proportions. A growing number of behind-the-scenes players are popping up in cameos in recent movies to grab their 15 seconds of fame. Explains director Ben Younger, who gave himself a small part inBoiler Room: ”I wanted to document a point in my life when I had some semblance of cool.” Here, EW considers whether they should quit their day jobs.

Cameo The real-life Erin Brockovich, as a burger-joint waitress named Julia in Erin Brockovich. Sample Line ”And for you?” Our Verdict Brockovich (dressed against type in a cleavage-free outfit) delivers all three of her lines to Julia Roberts with delicious nuance. Flo, watch your back! B+

Cameo The aforementioned Younger, as a cocky, testosterone-fueled trader in Boiler Room. Sample Line ”I am 46 years old, with 22 years of market experience!” Our Verdict We were definitely sold. Younger can rant and holler like a youthful Al Pacino. A-

Cameo Cider House Rules author John Irving as a train stationmaster. Sample Line None. Our Verdict He doesn’t say a word, but neither did Sweet and Lowdown‘s Samantha Morton — and she got an Oscar nod! Hands clasped behind his back, Irving exudes official-looking panache. B

Cameo Director M. Night Shyamalan as a concerned doctor in The Sixth Sense. Sample Line ”Tests would indicate he did not have a seizure.” Our Verdict With his monotone delivery, Shyamalan may have taken the communing-with-the-dead theme too far. We see acting lessons! C+

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