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The 15 Most Interesting Instances of Actors Playing Themselves in Movies

31 October 2015 | Features, Other Lists | by Ivan Peric

actors playing themselves in movies

Some say being yourself is everything you can do but that is not always easy, especially if you are an actor. Actors, among other occupations, have to transform and dive into the psyche of another person in order to become the person they are portraying. To achieve that, they go to deep lengths of preparing for the role. Method acting is very popular among great actors such as Daniel Day-Lewis, Min-sik Choi and the list goes on.

After the film is done, some actors take time to become themselves again both physically and mentally, but what happens when actors play themselves? Do they do research of themselves, do they study their own way of acting, read their own interviews? Who knows. But surely it would be interesting to see our favorite actor show up in a film as himself. Here is our list of some interesting appearances of such kind.

 

1. JCVD – Jean-Claude Van Damme (2008, Mabrouk El Mechri)

jean-claude-van-damme-jcvd

Well known as “Muscles from Brussels”, Calude Van Damme hits the screen again, but this time maybe in a little different role. In the film he plays a star that doesn’t shine so bright. He is facing a divorce, he lost a kid in a divorce custody row, and Steven Seagal beats him.

In a way that hurts probably more than a high kick, he lost a film part to Seagal. And now he is without money and gets caught up in a stick up at the post office. He is negotiating a hostage payoff by pretending being the mastermind behind the stick up. A gun pointing at his head seems like a good motive to do so. In JCVD, you will see our action hero from another angle.

 

2. Knocked Up – Steve Carell (2007, Judd Apatow)

Knocked Up - Steve Carrell

Among other actors who did cameos (Jessica Alba, Jessica Simpson, Andy Dick…) in Knocked Up, we will pay attention to Steve Carell. Here he is not a 40 years old virgin, he is 52, married and has two children. And he is playing that guy or himself in the 2007 romantic comedy.

We see Steve in a scene talking to an interviewer, something he did probably too many times. Only this time the interviewer is a pregnant woman and he isn’t in the mood to talk.

 

3. The Dictator – Megan Fox (2012, Larry Charles)

kinopoisk.ru

Being a dictator in a modern western world is not a very popular job. But if that includes sharing a bed with Megan Fox, that probably makes death treats and lifetime prison possibility not so bad. Sacha Baron Cohen has a guest star Megan Fox in his funny but of course inappropriate film The Dictator.

We see Megan in a visit to the Dictator in his palace for which he sure is not late with mortgage. Megan shows a good sense of humor and that is probably what makes her even more attractive. Of course even to the stone-hearted dictator.

 

4. Dodgeball – Chuck Norris (2004, Rawson Marshall Thurber)

Dodgeball - Chuck Norris

There is one name that is iconic in the world of action movies. Although the name “Chuck” will be more suitable for a comedy actor, this Chuck is surely not to joke around with. He is now 75 but still has the strength and reputation that could beat younger guys who mostly earned their experience in secure gyms and saunas, unlike Norris who served for United States Air Force and has so many black belts that they should probably invent a new color for more advanced belts called “The Chuck Norris”.

The film Dodgeball (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story by its full name) is a sports comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. The story of the film is about the rivalry between a small gym and big gym with a lot of money. The small gym will be consumed by the big one and turned into a parking lot if the owner (character played by Vince Vaughn) doesn’t get the money. So he plans to get the money by attending a dodgeball tournament.

In this tournament we have appearance of our everlasting action hero. Legend says when Chuck Norris plays dodgeball, the balls dodge him. We guess that is true even though in this film he is not seen on court.

 

5. The Last Action Hero – Arnold Schwarzenegger (1993, John McTiernan)

The Last Action Hero - Arnold Schwarzenegger

It seems like action heroes are often invited to film sets to play themselves. People seem to connect with their film roles and personal characters the best. It`s always interesting to see our hero appearing as himself in a scene with slightly less action.

All time action hero Mr. Arnold is showing up in the film The Last Action Hero. He is playing iconic screen hero Jack Slater whose film is hitting the theaters. One kid who is a big fan gets the magic ticket to theater. And soon after he enters the theater, he steps behind the silver screen, gets sucked into the film and joins Jack in fighting the crimes. We see Schwarzenegger doing his thing playing the action hero we all love with references to his past roles.

At one point in the film, Jack and Danny (the kid) leave the film and the action continues in the “real” world. We see that Jack is realizing the reality is different from films. But still if in real life we witness a train that is going off tracks and we know that Schwarzenegger is in it, we would probably just lean back and enjoy the ride.

 

6. Coffee and Cigarettes – Cate Blanchett (2003, Jim Jarmusch)

Coffee and Cigarettes - Cate Blanchett

Drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes is the ritual for many people around the world. In this film, well-known independent director Jim Jarmusch portrays that situation where characters are talking about caffeine related topics. This black and white film is divided in eleven segments, each with its on title. In one segment called “Cousins”, we see Cate Blanchett in a lounge of hotel and her cousin (who is a fictional character) arrives.

Cate plays both herself and her cousin. They are sitting and talking, of course, over coffee and cigarettes. They are from different worlds and Cate is playing herself and her convincing cousin, and for a moment you could even believe that she is her.

 

7. I’m Still Here – Joaquin Phoenix (2010, Casey Affleck)

I'm Still Here (2010)

This mocumentary looks so real that many people truly believed it. It is a story about Joaquin Phoenix’s drug fall and career changing to hip hop artist. The director Affleck said he never intended to trick anybody in this movie.

The film was presented as real, but later director confirmed that it was staged. And we can also see Phoenix in an interview by David Letterman where he says he`s quitting acting and getting more into hip hop music.

Afterwards he said you just have to use your name and people will think it was real, like in reality shows. In this role, Phoenix gives us a big reason to consider him a great actor once more.

 

 

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  • Klaus Dannick

    Honestly, I think Charlie Sheen playing himself in Being John Malkovich kinda bests John Malkovich himself in the same film, especially in retrospect (and I’m not belittling John Malkovich’s ballsy performance at all).

  • Christopher Hill

    Jennifer Tilly in Seed of Chucky: hilarious!

  • Cygnifier

    I’ll give you John Malkovich as #1. But above all these others is Billy Wilder’s 1950 Sunset Blvd. Cecil B. DeMille and Hedda Hopper both play themselves as do the “waxworks” who play cards with Norma Desmond: Buster Keaton, Anna Q. Nilsson, H.B. Warner, and Ray Evans — all silent era stars playing themselves.

  • Christoph

    The list is definitely missing Robin Wright in “The Congress”.

  • Kasimpilla

    Morgan Freeman, 10 items or less.

  • Héctor Oyarzún

    The fake movie inside Robert Altman’s “The Player” features Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis and Susan Sarandon in one of the funniest moments to come out from a non-comedy movie. Could be a nice add to the list.

  • FlyteBro

    I could never understand why so many rave about Megan Fox’s supposed beauty. To me, she is archetypically average looking, and I honestly cannot see even a hint of attractivness in her. And the fact that she is hailed as a sex symbol, is mind-bogling to me.