It’s always pretty delightful when an actor shows up in a movie or television show playing him or herself. If it’s in a serious role, it leads you to have all sorts of meta concepts swirling around your head. If it’s just a funny cameo in which they play a caricature of themselves, it shows they’re a good sport and don’t take themselves too seriously.
There have been so many examples of actors showing up as themselves over the years that it would be impossible to cover them all here, but these are thirteen of our favorites. Some are wonderfully weird, others are laugh-out-loud hilarious. Don’t be surprised if you finish this post pondering the nature of celebrity and identity.
1. John Malkovich, Being John Malkovich
This is an interesting example in that not only does John Malkovich play himself, but a large portion of the movie also takes place in his brain. You don’t get much more trippy than that.
2. James Van Der Beek, Don’t Trust the B- in Apartment 23
This show might not have lasted very long (RIP), but James Van Der Beek’s performance as an arrogant but lovable version of himself will live on for years to come. He’s Dawson no more.
3. Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Matt LeBlanc’s performance here is somewhere between Joey Tribbiani and reality. Like Van Der Beek, this version is a bit of a pompous ass. I guess that’s what we as viewers like to assume about celebrities.
4. Everyone, This is the End
This is the End was one of the funniest movies of the summer for the very fact that it starred countless Hollywood stars – from James Franco to Emma Watson – playing exaggerated versions of themselves with no shame. Warning: The above clip features plenty of vulgar language, also plenty of hilarity.
5. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
What could be better than a famous pair of Hollywood BFFs starring in a movie together as themselves? Here they’re in the middle of filming a sequel to Good Will Hunting. They are, as expected in these types of cameos, total jerks.
6. Neil Patrick Harris, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
This cameo, along with the ones that came in subsequent Harold and Kumar movies, was arguably what brought on NPH’s comeback. A year later How I Met Your Mother started and he was Doogie Howser no more.