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Inside Jokes That Ended Up In The Movie

Even the most serious movie can make room for a laugh or two, but some of the best jokes are the ones you don't see the first time around. They might even be jokes you don't get at all. Through the collaborative process of cinema, little gags that are often included just for the filmmakers themselves can make their way into the finished product, whether they're background props, throwaway lines, or unexpected cameo appearances. These inside jokes not only create fun little Easter egg hunts for viewers hoping to get in on the laugh, but also represent a sense of fun shared between the people who got together to make the film happen.

In celebration of that fun, here are ten memorable movie inside jokes, from dueling directors to Paul McCartney songs that don't actually exist. Even if you don't find them funny, remember: they were never meant for you. They're for the people who made the movies in the first place.

Daniel Radcliffe's infamous Equus role in Harry Potter

Daniel Radcliffe is known for two things: Playing Harry Potter, and taking on roles in theater and film that are wildly different from Harry Potter. The first and most controversial of those latter roles came in 2007, when Radcliffe — then just 17 — took a starring role in a West End production of Peter Shaffer's Equus, a play about a stable boy with an often erotic obsession with horses. The production required Radcliffe to appear nude in one scene, and ignited controversy when racy promotional photos of Radcliffe began to appear, as people wondered if an actor best known for playing the most popular children's book character in the world at the time should also be doing nude scenes on stage.

In 2010, for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, the Potter set designers decided to poke fun at the Equus controversy with a little Easter egg. At one point early in the film, Harry, Ron, and Hermione duck into a London cafe to regroup, only to be ambushed by Death Eaters. The cafe features a bulletin board on one wall that includes, among other things, posters for upcoming theatrical productions. One of them is a poster for Equus, featuring a shirtless Radcliffe in all his glory. It's very difficult to spot in the actual film, but it's quite clearly present in behind-the-scenes footage. It's a funny detail on its own, but it's made more amusing by the idea that, in the Harry Potter universe, there's an actor named Daniel Radcliffe appearing nude onstage who looks almost exactly like the famous boy wizard.

His Girl Friday and Archie Leach

His Girl Friday is one of the most beloved films ever made by the great Cary Grant, in part because of its snappy, almost relentless comedic dialogue. Director Howard Hawks aimed for a greater sense of realism in the way his actors were speaking, structuring the script so they stepped on each other lines and even encouraging improvisation on the set. The result is a film so packed with asides, wisecracks and references that you probably won't catch them all upon first viewing. Among the most memorable of these is a brief joke near the end of the film, when the crooked mayor and sheriff are about to haul Walter (Grant) away for kidnapping. Even with handcuffs on, Walter is confident that he'll prevail, and makes a reference to the last man who dared cross him, a guy named "Archie Leach."

So, what's the gag? Grant was born Archibald Leach, and adopted Cary Grant as a stage name after signing an acting contract with Paramount Pictures. A version of the same gag was repeated in 1944 for Arsenic and Old Lace, which features a tombstone bearing the name "Archie Leach."

Sam Raimi vs. Wes Craven

Some inside jokes only land once, in a single moment in a single movie. Others, like the friendly rivalry between fellow horror icons Sam Raimi and Wes Craven, go on for decades across several films. This particular joke has its roots in Craven's 1977 film The Hills Have Eyes, which features what appears to be a ripped Jaws poster on the wall of the Carter family's trailer. When Raimi, then an unknown director, saw the film, he interpreted this as a message from Craven that his film was more frightening than Jaws.

In response, Raimi put a ripped The Hills Have Eyes poster in his breakout horror film The Evil Dead, in a playful attempt to declare his horror film superior. The exchange continued in 1984 with Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street, which features a scene in which the heroine falls asleep while watching The Evil Dead. Raimi then featured Freddy Krueger's bladed glove in Evil Dead II, so Craven featured Evil Dead again in Scream, and so on. Even after Craven's death in 2015, Raimi kept the gag going with the return of Freddy's glove in the season one finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead.

The Return of Scar in Hercules

Disney has a long tradition of inserting Easter eggs and side gags into its animated films, something Pixar Animation Studios has also gleefully taken part in over the years. There are many references and asides to choose from when it comes to Disney, but among the most amusing is a brief gag in the 1997 adventure comedy Hercules. As the title hero (Tate Donovan) is being groomed for greatness by the satyr known as Phil (Danny DeVito), he poses for a portrait while holding a sword and shield and wearing a lion skin on his head. Frustrated with posing instead of going out and being heroic, Hercules abandons the portrait and tosses the lion skin to the ground.

All it takes is a little bit of Disney knowledge to recognize the distinctive face, mane, and eyes of Scar, the villain from the 1994 hit The Lion King. Since that film features no humans or modern technology, it's easy to link the two films as part of one continuity. Scar dies at the end of The Lion King, then some hunter or trader finds him, skins him, and sells the pelt off somewhere in Greece, where it winds up on the head of Hercules. Isn't it nice when things come together like that?

A Song by "Wings" in Role Models

Some inside jokes are just so silly that you have to take them to their logical extreme. In the 2008 comedy Role Models, that took the form of an entirely fictional song supposedly by a real band. Throughout the film, Danny (Paul Rudd) meets several characters who insist that they know a song by Paul McCartney's band Wings called "Love Take Me Down (To the Streets)." Danny repeatedly argues that there's no such song, but the joke persists right up until the closing credits, when the actual song plays. Danny was right: it's not a Wings song, but it was written for the film by composer and mixer Charles Gansa, at the suggestion of composer Craig Wedren, who wrote the Role Models score.

"I was helping him with arrangements, and Craig said, 'That would be really funny, to have this song written,' and I was like, 'I'll do it,'" Gansa told Vanity Fair.

Add in vocals by Joey Curatolo, who sings McCartney parts in the Beatles tribute band Rain, and you've got a very convincing Wings clone. It was so convincing, in fact, that it ended up in another film directed by Role Models helmer David Wain and co-starring Rudd: Wanderlust.

The Pulp Fiction connection in Die Hard with a Vengeance

Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film about two hitmen, a gangster's wife, and a boxer who throws a fight, is one of the most referenced films of the 1990s, but one reference in particular was especially amusing because it involved one of Pulp's stars. A year after Pulp Fiction's release, Bruce Willis — who played the boxer, Butch — returned to the Die Hard franchise with Die Hard with a Vengeance.

In that film, NYPD Lt. John McClane (Willis) is pulled out of suspension to go on a deadly scavenger hunt across New York City at the behest of a terrorist called "Simon" (Jeremy Irons). McClane, frustrated and hungover as he's forced to play Simon's game, at one point remarks that he was just getting used to sitting at home "smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo" when he was pulled out by Simon. That line is a direct quote from "Flowers on the Wall," a 1966 song song by The Statler Brothers. Willis also sings the song in Pulp Fiction while Butch is driving away from his old apartment, believing he escaped the clutches of the mob until he literally runs into gangster Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) on the street. In Vengeance, Willis' character once again believes he's free to live an easier life, until fate pulls him back to a near-death situation

Fight Club loves Starbucks

The main characters in the 1999 film Fight Club begin their journey by learning to take out their frustrations with the world on each other, engaging in primal basement fights in which they essentially punch away all of their angst about life in a consumerist society built on possessions and status. They eventually evolve past that into something dubbed "Project Mayhem," in which they plan to destroy the society around them through acts of anarchy. As a result, the film is peppered with various forms of corporate and consumerist symbolism, including subliminal shots of Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), and IKEA catalog design rendered in live-action, and the seemingly constant presence of Starbucks cups.

The Starbucks cups were a key part of the film's design, a subtle background joke inspired by the fact that the coffee chain seemed to be setting up shop on just about every corner in Los Angeles at the time. According to director David Fincher, Starbucks not only approved the use of their logo in the film, but seemed eager to be in on the joke. The cups are so prevalent in Fight Club, sometimes appearing several times over the course of a single shot, that there's an entire Tumblr devoted to collecting images of them.

Tango & Cash mocks Rambo

By the time he teamed up with Kurt Russell for the 1989 buddy cop classic Tango & Cash, Sylvester Stallone was synonymous with two characters: Boxer Rocky Balboa and soldier John Rambo. So, as LAPD Detective Raymond Tango, he felt it was time to poke a little fun at one of the roles the public just couldn't separate him from.

In one of Tango & Cash's earliest scenes, Tango runs down a tanker truck he believes is smuggling drugs. He opts to take the truck down without backup, and when local sheriff's deputies respond to the scene they can't help but mock Tango's gung-ho attitude. When one of them jokingly says Tango "thinks he's Rambo," Tango responds "Rambo is a p***y" and uncovers a drug smuggling compartment with one shot from his revolver. Stallone had already done three films as John Rambo, and would return for another in 2008. At the time, though, he seemed to be signaling a move away from the franchise with a jab in the direction of one of his signature characters.

Matt Damon's Jason Bourne scene in Ocean's 13

Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's trilogy is full of nods and references to the lives and careers of the films' stars, including an extended sequence in Ocean's 12 in which Julia Roberts plays a character who impersonates Julia Roberts. In Ocean's 13, it was Matt Damon's turn to add a little flair from one of his other memorable roles to the franchise.

One scene in the film finds Damon's character, master thief Linus Caldwell, walking through London while talking frantically on a cell phone about how he's burned through several of his fake IDs and he suspects he's being followed. Soderbergh shot the scene with a shaky handheld camera in a departure from the smoother, more controlled shots in the rest of the film. The reason: Damon was in London filming The Bourne Ultimatum at the time, so the scene was shot to deliberately add a bit of Jason Bourne spy flair to the Ocean's franchise. So, in that moment, the joke is that the scene itself is sort of allowing Damon to play two characters at once, because he was in real life.

A Lethal Weapon reunion in Maverick

Danny Glover and Mel Gibson have made four films together as detectives Murtaugh and Riggs, respectively, in the Lethal Weapon series. Before they reunited for the final time in 1998 for Lethal Weapon 4, though, they took a little detour into Western territory with Maverick. In that 1994 action comedy, gunfighter and gambler Bret Maverick (Gibson) finds himself in the middle of a bank robbery when he thinks he recognizes one of the robbers. It turns out to be Glover, and the two men both stare at each other, do a double take, and then shrug off the mutual recognition. On his way out of the bank, Glover even takes a moment to use his signature Lethal Weapon line. If you've never seen Lethal Weapon, it just plays like an odd moment in the middle of the film. If you have seen it, you get the sense that these Western characters were Murtaugh and Riggs in another life.