With This is the End coming out in theaters, many might think actors playing themselves is somewhat revolutionary or “genius”. While I can’t think of an entire film based on that premise alone, there certainly have been a lot of actors playing themselves in movies over the years. And I’m not talking about like Woody Allen playing a version of himself in every one of his starring roles or instructing his actors to play a surrogate of his persona: I mean actors playing themselves, like literally.
1. Cecil B. DeMille in Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Not an actor, but a director; still what a memorable cameo in what’s quite possibly the greatest Hollywood film of all time. A great scene in a classic film about film and the film industry. Definitely one of my all time favorites, highly recommended for Billy Wilder’s fantastic script and direction.
2. Marcello Mastroianni et al. in Fellini’s Intervista (1987)
One of Federico Fellini’s most self-indulgent movies no doubt, but it’s still a lot of fun to see him re-team with Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg and others. To see these aging icons however made a weird impression, but overall Intervista works as a self-referential comedy imbued by the master’s trademark humor.
3. John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich (1999)
Great movie. John Malkovich playing himself is hilarious and creepy at the same time. Or maybe it’s the other character’s obsession with him that give off these weird vibes of creepiness. Regardless, director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman knock it out of the park with this one.
4. Alfred Molina et al. in Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
Most if not all of the eleven shorts in this Jim Jarmusch film feature celebrities playing versions of themselves. My favorite has to be Cousins? with Alfred Molina discovering that he’s related to Steve Coogan, who couldn’t care less. Very funny.
5. Neil Patrick Harris in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
His cameo in the films is a repeated joke in all the Harold & Kumar films. Neil Patrick Harris, as a comedic actor, is highly overrated, but his ‘shtick’ is fairly appropriate in the context of these already ‘schlocky’ films.