Actor-Shared Background

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

When a character on a TV show shares a detail of their heritage, upbringing, and backstory with the actor playing them.

When this material and information is written to be a vital part of the character and story, it runs into Meta Casting.

When this goes from a minor detail to the focus of the story, it can be an example of Real Life Writes the Plot.

A subtrope of Actor Allusion. Compare The Danza, where the character and the actor share a name.

Examples of Actor-Shared Background include:
  • Abed on Community is half-Polish, as is his actor, Danny Pudi.
    • After Annie's Informed Judaism in "Comparative Religion", some people were under the impression that they were just assigning religions arbitrarily to satisfy the study group's Five-Token Band status. However, in reality, Allison Brie got her start playing at the Southern California Jewish Community Center.
      • Likewise, Donald Glover was raised Jehovah's Witness.
      • We can assume, however, that Chevy Chase is not in a cult that seems to be a bizarre combination of Scientology, Buddhism, and Instrumentality.
      • Yvette Nicole Brown is a committed Christian, however, if probably less abrasive about it than Shirley often is.
  • Doctor Pierre Chang on Lost shares the same French-first-name Chinese-last-name formula as his actor, Francois Chau.
    • Jack Shepard went to Columbia University, as did Matthew Fox.
  • On Glee, similar to the Lost example, we have Tina Cohen-Chang (Chinese/Jewish), played by Jenna Ushkowitz.
  • Also on Glee, you can briefly see Kurt Hummel's birthday when he fills out a college application. It's the same month and date as Chris Colfer's, though Kurt is three years younger.
  • Max Klinger from Mash was from Toledo, Ohio, as was his actor, Jamie Farr.
  • In Full House, John Stamos's character's name changed from Jesse Cochran (generic) to Jesse Katsopolis (Greek) after the 1st season. His family when they come to visit is also very Greek.
  • In Scotland, PA, Lt. McDuff (played by Christopher Walken) mentions offhand that he used to be a professional dancer.
  • Number Six in The Prisoner gives his exact date and time of birth—one of the only times in the series he volunteers any information. The date and time in question in fact belonged to Patrick McGoohan.
  • In Power Rangers, Catherine Sutherland, Amy Jo Johnson's replacement, played Katherine Hillard, also an Aussie (who doesn't know martial arts at first).
    • In SPD, Matt Austin played Bridge Carson, who was also Jewish.
  • On Chuck, Vik Sahay (born in Ontario)'s character Lester is revealed to have come from Saskatchewan.
  • On the same token, How I Met Your Mother's Robin Scherbatsky is played by Cobie Smulders, both of whom are Canadian.
  • Many of Adam Sandler's characters in his films are Jewish, just like Sandler himself.
  • Vince Vaughn's characters in The Break Up, Couples Retreat and The Dilemma live in Chicago, just like Vaughn himself.
  • On The Vampire Diaries, Katerina Petrova is Bulgarian and so is Nina Dobrev, the actress who plays her.
  • At least two of Richard Dean Anderson's characters. MacGyver and Stargate's Jack O'Neill are both from Minnesota, same as Anderson.
  • From Star Trek the Original Series, Leonard "Bones" McCoy is from Toccoa, Georgia... just like actor DeForest Kelley.
  • In Star Trek the Next Generation, Geordi La Forge is a Military Brat and has an ambiguously French name like his actor LeVar Burton (the name bit, however, is more of a fun coincidence, as the character was named after a fan of the original series and LeVar is a contraction of the actor's birth name).
  • On Criminal Minds, Dr. Spencer Reid hails from Las Vegas and performs magic tricks as a hobby, just like the actor portraying him, Matthew Gray Gubler.
  • Iron Man actor Robert Downey, Jr. has some slight similarities to Tony Stark's life: a history of partying and drug-use... while also being one of the finest in his craft when he gets his act together.
    • Similarly, remove the "partying" part of that and he's a bit similar to Sherlock Holmes as well.
  • Part of a Lampshade Hanging in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. The (English) Cary Elwes points out that "Unlike some Robin Hoods, I speak with an English accent!", a Take That to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
  • Done backwards in the case of James Bond. Bond's Scottish ancestry was added into his history by Ian Fleming because of Sean Connery's portrayal of him.
  • Parminder Nagra's real life leg scar (and how she got it) was added to the script of Bend It Like Beckham.
  • When Cordelia fell into a pit and was impaled by a rebar in an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", she was just following in the footsteps (or was that footfalls?) of the actress who portrayed her-Charisma Carpenter had something very similar happen to her when she was young.
  • Most of the characters in Neon Genesis Evangelion have the same birthday as their original Japanese voice actor.
  • Most of Fran Fine's backstory on The Nanny is identical to star Fran Drescher's own life. Lived in Queens, graduated from Hillcrest High (with Ray Romano/Ray Barone,) parents named Sylvia and Morty, sister named Nadine, the list goes on and on.
  • Gary Sinise and Mac Taylor are both originally from Chicago,Illinois. Sinise's partial Irish heritage was also incorporated particularly with Mac's middle name, though it isn't the same as the actor's.
    • Melina Kanakaredes and her Greek character Stella both speak the language fluently (Melina is the child of Greek immigrants)
    • Carmine Giovinazzo's past of aspiring to a professional baseball career and then being sidelined by an arm injury was incorporated into Danny Messer's backstory. Rather naturally, the actor's Italian ethnicity was also incorporated.
    • Vanessa Ferlito is originally from New York, like her character Aiden Burn.