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Apr
21st
2010
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Actors who actually exist in their movies

Two things about this post. First: it may not have been clear, but I wrote it as an “entry” in the weekly New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest.1 I stated this in the tags and the click-through link for the image, but it turns out that Tumblr strips both of those things from the RSS feed, or at least includes them in a way that’s incompatible with Google Reader, through which I have a couple hundred subscribers. I hate seeing other people strip context and credit from things they repost, so in the future I’ll be more careful about this.

Second: I didn’t mean to start a serious discussion, but Internet decided otherwise. After Jim Ray reblogged me and the post appeared on Kottke, people started leaving comments describing movies where a starring actor actually does exist in the setting in one way or another. Here’s the list so far (unverified; I haven’t seen most of these):

  • Jason Weathered claims Red Dwarf: Back to Earth has an interesting take on this.
  • John Borwick: “Part of the plot of Ocean’s 12 is that Julia Roberts’s character is mistaken for Julia Roberts.”
  • Lee mentions Being John Malkovich, but I think that’s not quite the same thing since John Malkovich plays himself in the film.
  • David Friedman: “Arnold Schwarzenegger exists in The Last Action Hero. But in the movie within the movie, he doesn’t exist, and the Terminator was played by Sylvester Stallone.”
  • Henrik N describes a scene in The Seven Year Itch: “there’s a line something like ‘Who have you got in there, Marilyn Monroe?’”
  • Ken Schafer: “In Sex and the Single Girl a character says that Tony Curtis (one of the leads in Some Like It Hot) looks a lot like one of the guys from Some Like It Hot. But they figure he looks like Jack Lemmon and from then on people in the movie keep thinking he’s Lemmon. Another meta-moment in Some Like It Hot is when Spats Colombo (played by George Raft) asks a minor character where I got the idea of flipping a coin in the air all the time (that was Raft’s trademark).”
  • Craig paraphrases His Girl Friday: “Cary Grant’s character is talking about Ralph Bellamy’s character and says something like ‘He reminds me of that fellow in the movies. Ralph Bellamy.’”
  • Michele brings up Bridget Jones’s Diary: “In the fist book, Bridget meets Mark Darcy. He is played in the movie by Colin Firth, who played Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Then in the second book she interviews Colin Firth, the actor. I was wondering how they’d play that, but they basically rewrote the whole plot for the second movie.”
  • Mark Jaquith: “In Fight Club a Seven Years in Tibet (starring Brad Pitt) marquee is shown. But of course if you know [SPOILER] that doesn’t really break the rule.”
  • Jacob points out Bill Murray in Zombieland. (But he just plays himself, so same deal as Being John Malkovich, I think.)
  • holycalamity: “In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Ben Affleck plays his character from Chasing Amy, who acknowledges the existence of Ben Affleck the actor.”
  • Hugh McBride seems to remember a novel called Gump & Co., which was a sequel to the novel Forrest Gump, and in which “Forrest has a brief encounter with Tom Hanks.” I like this situation because it’s inverted: the Tom Hanks who appears in the book is the real Tom Hanks, except that he never starred in a film called Forrest Gump (I assume, because this doesn’t appear to be a science-fiction novel).

Anyone know of any others?


  1. Except I can’t actually enter it because the very important person who makes all the cartoon-related decisions on behalf of our culture has issued the very sensible and not at all arbitrary decree that captions aren’t funny if they exceed 250 characters. Thanks, whoever you are. You’re doing great work. 

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