July 16, 2024


Life is art

Best Movies Featuring Actors Playing Themselves

Nicolas Cage in 'The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.'

Nicolas Cage in ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.’ Photo: Katalin Vermes/Lionsgate.

Oscar winner Nicolas Cage is currently receiving rave reviews for his performance in ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,’ where he plays well, Nicolas Cage!

But this is certainly not the first time an A-list actor has portrayed themself in a film, and we thought it would be a good time to look back at the the greatest movies featuring actors playing themselves.

For this list, we are only including actors who’ve portrayed themselves in a movie and not athletes, musicians, or other celebrities.

Let’s begin!

(L to R) James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Seth Rogen in 'This Is the End.'

Sony Pictures.

While attending a party at James Franco’s house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and many other celebrities including Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Michael Cera, Rihanna, Emma Watson, Mindy Kaling, Paul Rudd, Channing Tatum, and Kevin Hart are faced with the apocalypse.

A movie about the apocalypse set in Hollywood was a clever idea, but having the actors play exaggerated versions of themselves is what makes this movie really fun to watch, and Jonah Hill being possessed by a demon is a definite highlight.

This Is the End

“Nothing ruins a party like the end of the world.”


R1 hr 47 minJun 12th, 2013

Danny Ocean (George Clooney) reunites with his old flame (Julia Roberts) and the rest of his merry band of thieves in carrying out three huge heists in Rome, Paris and Amsterdam – but a Europol agent (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is hot on their heels.

One of the “cons” in the movie that Ocean and his friends are running is based on the idea that Tess Ocean (Roberts) looks remarkably like the actress “Julia Roberts.” Posing as Roberts, Tess helps Linus (Matt Damon) get close to their mark but are interrupted by the actor Bruce Willis (played by Willis), who is friends with the real Roberts.

Ocean’s Twelve

“Twelve is the new eleven.”


PG-132 hr 5 minDec 10th, 2004

Paul Giamatti (played by Paul Giamatti) is agonizing over his interpretation of ‘Uncle Vanya’ and, paralyzed by anxiety, stumbles upon a solution via a New Yorker article about a high-tech company promising to alleviate suffering by extracting souls. He enlists their services—only to discover that his soul is the shape and size of a chickpea.

Giamatti plays himself as a depressed yet “serious” thespian, which plays off of the actor’s real-life persona, while Emily Watson portrays Paul’s fictional wife, Claire Giamatti.

Cold Souls

“A soul searching comedy.”


Not Yet Rated1 hr 41 minAug 7th, 2009

Reunited after 15 years, famous chef Sasha (Ali Wong) and hometown musician Marcus (Randall Park) feel the old sparks of attraction but struggle to adapt to each other’s worlds.

After years apart, Sasha and Marcus reconnect, only to go on a double date with their significant others. The date goes terribly wrong for Marcus when he realizes that Sasha is dating movie star Keanu Reeves (played by Reeves). The actor plays himself with all the coolness and charisma we expect from Reeves, before eventually getting into a brawl with Marcus.

Always Be My Maybe

Always Be My Maybe

“There’s Always Been Something Between Them.”


PG-131 hr 41 minMay 31st, 2019

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Nerdy accountant Harold (John Cho) and his irrepressible friend, Kumar (Kal Penn), get stoned watching television and find themselves utterly bewitched by a commercial for White Castle. Convinced there must be one nearby, the two set out on a late-night odyssey that takes them deep into New Jersey. Somehow, the boys manage to run afoul of rednecks, cops and even a car-stealing Neil Patrick Harris (played by Harris) before getting anywhere near their beloved sliders.

Harris spoofs his own history as a child actor, playing himself as a drug-addicted, has-been child star. It’s also worth noting that ‘Harold & Kumar’ predates ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ and marked the beginning of Harris’ own career resurgence.

Bruce Campbell in 'My Name is Bruce.'

Image Entertainment.

B-movie Legend Bruce Campbell (played by Campbell) is mistaken for his character Ash from ‘The Evil Dead’ trilogy and forced to fight a real monster in a small town in Oregon.

Campbell basically plays himself like his ‘Evil Dead’ character Ash. He’s confident and self-assured when there is no danger, but once trouble begins, he becomes a complete coward. The movie was directed by Campbell, and is a fun spoof on the actor’s own cult status.

My Name Is Bruce

My Name Is Bruce

“Fearless! Unstoppable! Ready For His Close-Up!”


R1 hr 26 minOct 1st, 2007

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Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has made a habit of running from what scares him. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) doesn’t have fears. If he did, he’d kick their ever-living ass. In a world overrun by zombies, these two are perfectly evolved survivors. But now, they’re about to stare down the most terrifying prospect of all: each other.

When Columbus and his friends enter a Beverly Hills mansion, they meet actor Bill Murray (played by Murray), who survived the zombie apocalypse by wearing makeup and pretending to be a zombie himself. The actor even busts-out his old ‘Ghostbusters’ costume before Columbus accidentally kills him.


“Nut up or shut up.”


R1 hr 28 minOct 8th, 2009

‘I’m Still Here’ is a portrayal of a tumultuous year in the life of actor Joaquin Phoenix (played by Phoenix). Directed by Casey Affleck, the film follows the future Oscar-winner as he announces his retirement from a successful film career in the fall of 2008 and sets off to reinvent himself as a hip-hop musician. The film is a portrait of an artist at a crossroads and explores notions of courage and creative reinvention, as well as the ramifications of a life spent in the public eye.

Sold as a documentary, it was later revealed that the entire movie was a fictional spoof. Unknown which it was at the time of release, Phoenix gives a performance playing an exaggerated version of himself that is so believable the entire world really thought that the actor had gone crazy! It all culminated with his infamous appearance on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman,’ which is included in the film.

I'm Still Here

Directed by Robert Altman, a Hollywood studio executive (Tim Robbins) is being sent death threats by a writer whose script he rejected – but which one?

‘The Player’ could easily have been called ‘Cameo: The Movie.’ While some actors play fictional characters (like Robbins and Whoopi Goldberg), because of the Hollywood setting, dozens of famous actors play themselves in cameo roles like Joel Grey, Anjelica Huston, and John Cusack.

Then, in a film within the film, Bruce Willis and Julia Roberts play themselves, playing fictional characters.

The Player

The Player

“Everything you’ve heard is true!”


R2 hr 4 minApr 3rd, 1992

'Being John Malkovich'

USA Films.

One day at work, unsuccessful puppeteer Craig (John Cusack) finds a portal into the head of actor John Malkovich (played by Malkovich). The portal soon becomes a passion for anybody who enters its mad and controlling world of overtaking another human body.

‘Being John Malkovich’ is ‘The Godfather’ of movies featuring actors playing themselves. Malkovich brilliantly plays-off of his odd and mysterious off-screen persona and gives a dark comedic performance as good as any of his previous dramatic work. it’s also hilarious when it is revealed that his best friend is Charlie Sheen (played by Sheen himself).

Being John Malkovich