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MTV Movie Awards: How Conan O'Brien Landed 50 Cameos for Gigantic Opening (Video)

Director Troy Miller tells THR he assembled a guerrilla-style team to get talent in and out in six minutes or less: "We'd come in, get it from six different angles and people would be out."

MTV Movie Awards Stage Conan Intro - H 2014
AP Images/Invision
MTV Movie Awards

Conan O'Brien's gigantic opening at Sunday's MTV Movie Awards was one for the record books, with the host landing cameos from 50 stars, from Russell Crowe and Demi Moore to Anthony Hopkins and Martin Scorsese.

Incredibly, it all came together during the past three weeks, when O'Brien first approached MTV with the idea. For getting footage of the busy stars, speed was the name of the game, says Troy Miller, who directed and produced the segment via his Dakota Pictures.

"We had this lean, mean SEAL Team Six machine. We'd come in, get it from six different angles and people would be out in six minutes," Miller tells The Hollywood Reporter. "The cast of Noah, we did just one take."

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The enormous task of booking all the stars generated thousands of emails between the MTV team and talent reps, with the effort spearheaded by MTV's Wendy Plaut, co-executive producer of the show. And reaching the magic number -- 50 -- came down to the wire, with Lupita Nyong'o signing on Saturday as the final piece of the puzzle.

"I think it speaks to how much the community loves Conan. To book 50 cameos in three weeks is kind of an epic challenge," MTV president Stephen Friedman says.

O'Brien worked hard, coming in early mornings before going to work on TBS' Conan. He also traveled the country to get the cameos. He and Miller's team at Dakota Pictures nabbed Adam Sandler in Dallas and Martin Scorsese in New York.

The opening begins with O'Brien pitching his idea to a group of crusty MTV execs who don't believe he can get 50 stars to sign up. Cue Andy Samberg -- the first cameo -- showing up for no reason. But Miller says he and O'Brien didn't want the segment to be just about the cameos.

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"It's just like jazz. It's these alternative jokes where you don't know where it's going to go," says Miller.

Miller, who has established a reputation for being a trailblazer in the awards-show opening-sequence business, previously directed the openings to multiple MTV Movie Awards, Emmys and Academy Awards broadcasts. He also co-directed the most recent season of Arrested Development along with creator Mitchell Hurwitz. His new Hulu series Deadbeat debuted April 9.

In case you didn't catch them all, here's the full list of the opening's stars.

JESSICA ALBA

ELLEN PAGE 

ICE CUBE

SETH ROGEN

SHAUN WHITE

DANNY MCBRIDE

ED HELMS 

BLAKE GRIFFIN

ELIJAH WOOD

ANTHONY HOPKINS

EMMA WATSON

JENNIFER CONNELLY

LOGAN LERMAN

RUSSELL CROWE

JIM PARSONS

JOHNNY GALECKI

KALEY CUOCO

KUNAL NAYYAR

MAYIM BIALIK

MELISSA RAUCH

SIMON HELBERG

GRUMPY CAT

CARRIE BROWNSTEIN

FRED ARMISEN

ASHTON KUTCHER

ROSARIO DAWSON

JASON BATEMAN

ANNA FARIS

FAUX JACK NICHOLSON

CHRIS PRATT 

ADAM SANDLER

WILLIE NELSON

JACK WHITE

CHARLES BARKLEY

PAUL RUDD

TAYLOR SWIFT

JAMES FRANCO

MARTIN SCORSESE

SKRILLEX

TOM ARNOLD

DEMI MOORE

ANDY SAMBERG

ADAM SCOTT

TRACY MORGAN

AZIZ ANSARI

KATY PERRY

WILL FORTE 

SARAH SILVERMAN 

MINDY KALING

LUPITA NYONG'O

CONAN O'BRIEN