Did Waldo from Where’s Waldo Appear in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Waldo (from Where’s Waldo? fame) appeared in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto.

Over the years, the term “easter egg” has become a common one in the world of popular culture, as the idea of hiding something interesting within your work for your fans to discover (like an Easter egg hunt) is an entertaining one for writers, artists and directors. We have featured a few notable ones over the years, like South Park’s hidden aliens, Paul McCartney’s hidden lentil soup recipe and Joe Walsh’s hidden campaign for President. However, one of the all-time strangest easter eggs has got to be Mel Gibson’s use of the children’s book character Waldo inside his 2006 film, Apocalypto.

Read on to see the rather controversial way that the character made his way into the film!

Apocalypto was Mel Gibson’s 2006 follow-up to his 2004 blockbuster hit, The Passion of the Christ. It told the story of the end of the great Mayan civilizations in South America in the 16th century, due at least in part to the influx of European conquistadors during that time period. Like The Passion of the Christ, Gibson strove for what he considered to be authentic dialogue and languages, with characters almost entirely speaking only Yucatec Maya language (with English subtitles).

Gibson is a well known prankster on the set of his films and this continued on Apocalypto. One thing he decided to try out in this film was to splice in gag bits into the film and the film’s trailer. In the trailer for the film, in one frame spliced into the trailer, Gibson is shown along with the actors playing the ancient Mayans, smiling with a cigarette in his mouth.

In the film itself, though, there was a more controversial use of this spliced in frame technique. At one point in the film, the hero of the film, Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) encounters a mass grave. In one spliced in frame of this sequence we see none other than Waldo.

Waldo (originally called Wally when he was created in England) is a popular children’s book character. The concept behind Waldo is that the book’s creator, Martin Handford, draws these large detailed scenes from around the world filled with many people. Your goal, then, as a reader is to find where Waldo is in these large scenes.

Gibson clearly found it amusing to have an actor dress up as Waldo and have him be “found” dead, with an arrow through his head, in the mass grave scene.

You can see it here in this YouTube clip…

Naturally, there were those who found the idea to be in poor taste, so the scene was cut from the DVD release of the film, although I believe it has been restored in the Blu-Ray version of the movie.

Interestingly enough, this isn’t the only time Waldo was involved in some controversy. I did a legend a few years back about how one of the Waldo books came under fire for having a woman tanning topless in a beach scene.

Anyhow, as for this legend, it is…

STATUS: True

Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of films.

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