As Himself

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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There are all kinds of fun ways to cast and credit celebrities.

We've seen cases where a very famous actor plays an impossibly small part in a movie, either as themselves or as a character. We've seen cases when a fictional character is listed in the credits as Himself/Herself. We've seen an actor playing a character with the same name as themselves. We've seen a real celebrity appear as themselves on a show for a quick laugh or maybe they take over the entire episode. And we've seen a beloved actor parody themselves by playing the flanderized version of themselves or their most well-known character for laughs.

This trope is when a real-life celebrity or famous figure is playing a fictionalized version of themselves, as a main character or recurring character. This is mostly a television trope, but there are film examples. For shows that take place in an alternate Hollywood, such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage and The Larry Sanders Show, this is the norm. It would be hard to believe it's Hollywood if you'd never heard of any of the "stars", would it?

This real celebrity is playing themselves, but they are inserted into fictional circumstances, play alongside clearly fictitious characters and sometimes have fictional backstories in relation to those fictional characters. This differs from an Autobiographical Role, where the celebrity is playing themselves in the actual story of their life.

As Himself is usually credited as, well: Report Siht as Herself. Though occasionally you will see Report Siht as "Report Siht". An actor might request the latter if they want it to be clearer that this is a purely fictionalized version of themselves.

Occasionally, there will be an example of this with a deceased star/famous figure. This will often be done using archive footage, but the trope still applies because they are still playing themselves in fictional circumstances (Forrest Gump didn't actually meet John F. Kennedy or Lyndon B. Johnson, folks).

Remember, if it's just a short gag, or one episode, that's either a Special Guest or a straight Cameo.

What's the difference between this and The Danza? Ask yourself this... is Alice playing a character who just happens to be named Alice as well? Or is she actually playing Alice? The first one is The Danza. The latter is As Himself. Compare Celebrity Star, Character as Himself, Special Guest and Adam Westing.

Supertrope of Newscaster Cameo (newsreader As Himself) and Leno Device (talk-show host As Himself).

Examples of As Himself include:


Film[edit | hide | hide all]

  • A posthumous example with Good Night and Good Luck, where Senator Joe McCarthy is played by himself by way of archive footage. His performance was deemed quite "over the top" by test audiences who didn't read all the promo material provided.
  • A dramatic example: Derek Jacobi plays himself in Hereafter as both the voice of a Charles Dickens audiobook and as a speaker at a literary festival.
  • Neil Patrick Harris as "Neil Patrick Harris" in both Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle movies. He requested not to be credited "as Himself", to make it clear he's not a drug-sniffing, car-stealing womanizer in Real Life (he is in fact, the complete opposite — an upstanding gentleman and in a stable relationship with David Burtka; i.e. no drugs, no stealing cars, and one guy, not many women).
  • John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich. It's worth noting that the fictional John Malkovich has a different middle name (Horatio) from the actor playing him (Gavin).
  • Forrest Gump meets many famous figures throughout his travels, some played by actors, but others played by archive footage. Both times he meets the president, it's done using archive footage. Obviously fictional circumstances, since Forrest Gump didn't really exist.
  • Paul Giamatti plays Paul Giamatti in Cold Souls
  • Bill Murray's appearance in Zombieland was widely promoted as a Cameo, but it actually falls into this territory, since he's in the movie for quite a bit of time (playing himself) and is actually the only other non-flashback speaking character outside of the main four, before Columbus shoots him.
    • Ditto for his role in Space Jam, wherein he eventually fills out the ranks of the Tune Squad to avert a forfeiture of the game. (In fact, the trope applies for pretty much all the live-action stars of the movie, aside from Wayne Knight and a few others.)
  • The Beatles were playing themselves, but obviously inserted into fictional circumstances in A Hard Day's Night and Help!!
  • Hamlet 2 had 'Elizabeth Shue as Elizabeth Shue'.
  • Bruce Campbell as Bruce Campbell in My Name Is Bruce, though this example may skirt into Adam Westing territory.
  • Peter Falk plays Peter Falk in Wings of Desire
  • In Sunset Boulevard, film director Cecil B. DeMille plays himself.
  • Gloria Swanson, the star of Sunset Boulevard appeared as herself in Airport 1975.
  • The Blues Brothers plays with this, featuring the band members playing themselves. The majority of them were part of the original backing band, and are well known blues and R&B legends, including Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn (both of whom played for Otis Redding, amongst others), and Matt "Guitar" Murphy. Paul Shaffer turns up in Blues Brothers 2000, but he's not actually playing himself—he instead adopts a thick French accent, playing the role of Queen Mousette's aide, Marco. He later takes off the wig and performs with the band, though, for which he gets credited both as Marco and as himself on the end credits list.
  • Every actor in Coffee and Cigarettes plays themselves, although arguably some of the minor characters may be cases of The Danza.
  • Funny People features several famous or once-famous comedians and entertainers as friends of the fictional George Simmons, whose career appears largely inspired by that of Adam Sandler, who plays him.
  • Zoe Bell plays herself in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof.
  • Dickie Roberts Former Child Star has a number of cameos by famous child actors and Brendan Frasier is in the film.
  • The Player, by Robert Altman contains over 50 cameos of famous Hollywood stars, all playing themselves.
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme in JCVD.
  • Stan Lee appears as himself in Mallrats.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger as both the main character and (briefly) himself in Last Action Hero
  • Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino plays Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino in the first Ace Ventura film.
  • The Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon featured numerous people from Kaufman's life as themselves, including:
    • the cast of Taxi — except for Danny DeVito, who was already playing Kaufman's manager
    • David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, and the Late Show With David Letterman band, re-creating Kaufman's infamous appearance on Late Night With David Letterman with wrestler Jerry Lawler (also playing himself) -- though filmed on the Late Show set, with no real attempt made to make anyone look younger.
    • Lorne Michaels, as the producer of Saturday Night Live (though he wasn't actually producer when Kaufman appeared on the show)
  • The late Miami Dolphins football team owner Joe Robbie played himself in the movie Black Sunday in which terrorists are going to attack the Superbowl. He's interviewed about security at Joe Robbie Stadium by Robert Shaw, who is playing Israeli counter-terrorist David Kabakov
  • The Blind Side: NCAA Division I college football coaches Philip Fulmer, Lou Holtz, Tom Lemming, Houston Nutt, Ed Orgeron, Pepper Rodgers, Nick Saban, and Tommy Tuberville.
  • In Get Shorty, during the filming of the climax of Chili's movie, Harvey Keitel plays himself playing Ray Bones. Also, Penny Marshall as herself, directing said movie.
  • Maggie Cheung plays herself in Irma Vep.
  • In Oceans Twelve, Julia Roberts plays a character, Tess, who is persuaded to pose as Julia Roberts. Bruce Willis appeared as himself in the same film.
  • Wes Craven's New Nightmare features Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Wes Craven and Bob Shaye all playing themselves. Freddy Krueger (though still played by Englund) is credited As Himself.
  • Paolo Roberto as himself in The Girl Who Played With Fire, second film of the Millennium Trilogy. The Swedish language version anyway. Whether he will be cast as himself in the Hollywood version or not is yet to be seen.
  • Steve and Terri Irwin in The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course.
  • Tom Jones in Mars Attacks!.
  • Cher in Stuck On You.
  • An unusual mutation can be found in the feature-length version of The Wizard Of Speed And Time: the cast list at the end of the film starts with "Mike Jittlov -- The Wizard" followed immediately by "The Wizard -- Himself".
  • Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering both play exaggerated caricatures of themselves in the movie Domino.
  • United 93 featured many of the actual people involved in the original events, including Ben Sliney, former U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's National Operation Manager and the man who ordered the US airspace to a National Ground Stop during 9/11. He played himself, reenacting those same events, and does a damn good job of it.
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane!
    • "And introducing Otto [the autopilot] as himself."
  • Several Major League Baseball players and umpires, as well as numerous sportscasters in The Naked Gun. Special mention to Reggie Jackson as a would-be brainwashed royal assassin.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic in The Naked Gun 1 and 3. He's also in 2, but plays a part.
  • George Clinton in PCU.
  • In the German movie Keinohrhasen, the main character is a paparazzi and sneaks into the engagement party of Yvonne Catterfeld (pop singer) and Wladimir Klitschko (professional boxer). While these two celebrities play themselves, their relationship is entirely made up.
  • Undercover Brother. James Brown is captured by The Man's organization. Eventually he reveals himself to be Undercover Brother in a Latex Perfection mask.
  • Contagion has Dr. Sanjay Gupta cameo in an interview with Dr. Cheever.
  • Al Pacino plays himself in the Adam Sandler movie Jack And Jill.
  • In Jerry Lewis' The Bellboy, Lewis plays himself and the bellboy Stanley. After Milton Berle (as himself) lectures Stanley, he runs into Jerry Lewis (as himself), and wonders if there can be "two of them." Berle goes off, then Lewis runs into a bellboy (played by Berle), and Lewis does an extended double-take.
  • In All the President's Men Frank Wills, the security guard who finds the masking tape on the door in the opening scene, is played by Frank Wills, the security guard who actually found the masking tape on the door at the Watergate. A lot of politicians and reporters appear as themselves in archival footage, including President and Mrs. Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Ron Ziegler, Walter Cronkite, etc.
  • The original Angels in the Outfield included (simulated) newsreel interviews with (actual) famous people concerning whether or not Mc Govern is actually conversing with angels. Among them is Ty Cobb, who simply says "All I can say is the game of baseball has certainly changed!"
  • In The Fighter, Micky Ward's trainer/Lowell police sargeant Mickey O'Keefe is played by... Micky Ward's trainer/Lowell police sargeant Mickey O'Keefe. O'Keefe had never acted before and was reluctant to take the role, though Mark Wahlberg was eventually successful in persuading him.
  • In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Buzz Aldrin briefly appears as himself.
    • So does Bill O Reilly. In a rather self-aware parody, he is quickly accused of "ambush journalism," and calls someone a pinhead.
  • Penn and Teller Get Killed
  • Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, being about NASCAR, features a lot of people who cameo as themselves, including:
    • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. asks Ricky for an autograph in one scene. He is seen in the garage at Talledega in a deleted scene.
    • Ricky beats Jamie McMurray by running in reverse.
    • Both the NASCAR on FOX broadcasting team (Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, and Darrell Waltrip) and the NASCAR on NBC team of 2005 (Bill Weber, Wally Dallenbach, Jr.; and Benny Parsons (died 2007)), are present; the FOX team is used for two races in the first half of the movie, while the NBC team is covering the Talladega race at the end of the movie.
      • There's even a funny moment where an NBC reporter in the stands claims to have spotted Kenny Rogers and Larry Byrd on two different occasions, but Weber, Parsons and Dallenbach have a hard time believing him, suspecting he might have had a stroke.
  • WASP in The Dungeonmaster.
  • Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Bret Easton Ellis' novel, Lunar Park is narrated in first person by Bret Easton Ellis, who is, like in the real world, the author of American Psycho and several other successful novels. The events in the novel, however, are completely fictional.
  • Stieg Larsson wrote in Swedish boxer/tv-host Paolo Roberto as a character in The Girl Who Played With Fire, book two of the Millennium Trilogy. Guess who played him in the movie?
  • Kurt Vonnegut shows up in a few of his own books, most notably Breakfast of Champions where he (as the author) directs the action for the last few chapters from the shadows.
  • At one point in The Dark Tower, Stephen King's characters have to save his life.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Monkees
  • Extras episodes heavily feature this trope (most of the time they are playing parodies of themselves). In fact, pretty much the only celebrities that do not play themselves are the regular cast.
  • Pop star George Michael played himself in the first season of Eli Stone, appearing both in musical visions and in the real world. At the end of the season, it's heavily implied that he is God.
  • The Big Bang Theory has featured Wil Wheaton playing a Jerkass version of himself a few times, serving as Sheldon's nemesis.
  • A few Entourage examples:
    • Mandy Moore played herself as Vince's costar in Aquaman. They supposedly dated when they starred together in another (very real) movie years earlier.
    • Seth Green has shown up as himself several times, mostly to annoy Eric that he (maybe) dated Sloan before E did.
    • Jamie-Lynn Sigler is currently appearing as herself, dating Turtle. Even more bizarre, considering the two are now dating in Real Life.
    • Ed Burns plays himself as the producer of Drama's show.
    • Several directors have appeared as themselves as well, including James Cameron and Gus Van Sant.
  • Loads in Doctor Who, among them Derek Acorah, Paul O'Grady and Alistair Appleton.
  • Louis CK plays himself, a divorced stand-up comedian, in Louie, with various comedians also appearing as themselves.
  • Some Curb Your Enthusiasm examples:
    • Larry David himself—at first glance this appears to be a case of Adam Westing, until you learn that the Larry David we see on the show is not very exaggerated at all from the real Larry David.
    • Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer and Mel Brooks appeared when they were putting on a revival of The Producers.
    • Richard Lewis and Ted Danson as Larry's friends, along with Mary Steenburgen and Rosie O'Donnell.
    • The entire cast of Seinfeld in the seventh season.
  • Just Shoot Me has had Mark Hamill, Carmen Electra, Pamela Anderson and Ray Liotta appearing as themselves.
  • iCarly: Jerry Trainor and Miranda Cosgrove in iBloop.
  • Posthumous example - Adolf Hitler in Red Dwarf (using archive footage with Craig Charles superimposed next to him). Exists solely for a few Historical In-Joke gags regarding his missing testicle and his briefcase. The Adolf Hitler As Himself credit got a huge laugh from the studio audience.
  • The Larry Sanders Show had several, including Jon Stewart as his rival and David Duchovny, who had a gay crush on Larry.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy and Neil DeGrasse-Tyson both guest starred in an episode of Stargate Atlantis. Neil was little more than a cameo, but Bill Nye played a somewhat extensive part.
    • General Michael E. Ryan and General John P. Jumper, each the actual Chief of Staff of the Air Force at the time his episode aired, appeared as themselves on SG-1 in 2001 and 2004, respectively.
  • Seinfeld had several throughout the years. Most memorably, Keith Hernandez (the former New York Met), shows up as himself several times, before and after he dates Elaine. And technically, Jerry plays himself throughout the series, as evidenced by his appearance on the Today Show with Bryant Gumbel in The Puffy Shirt episode.
  • Garry Shandling in It's Garry Shandling's Show.
    • In addition, the show had numerous guest stars, including Tom Petty, Rob Reiner, Martin Mull, and guest host Red Buttons.
  • Seinfeld appeared in an episode of Newsradio.
  • Jennifer Grey in It's Like, You Know...
  • Creed Bratton on The Office falls between this and Adam Westing.
  • Lou Ferrigno in The King of Queens.
  • Bristol Palin showed up for one scene in The Secret Life of the American Teenager when Amy was at a music program for teen moms.
  • Angela's father in Bones is Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.
  • Icelandic celebrity ?n rnason was for quite a while the main star of a series titled "Waking up with Grandpa" or something like that. So as not to spoil the illusion for kids watching, Grandpa was always credited as himself.
  • Josh Groban and Olivia Newton John have both made cameos on Glee, both having a blast making fun of themselves and pretending they're huge jerks.
  • Baywatch - Lifeguard Michael "Newmie" Newman is played by Michael Newman, a real LA County lifeguard.
  • Stephen Hawking appeared as a hologram of himself in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He played poker with Data, Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Another example of this is Joe Piscopo, who also appeared as a hologram.
  • Garry Shandling, Tea Leoni, and Wayne Federman all played themselves in The X-Files episode "Hollywood A.D."
    • Alex Trebek and Jesse Ventura cameoed as themselves(and Men in Black) in the episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space".
    • Jerry Springer played himself in the episode "The Post-Modern Prometheus"
  • Walter Cronkite appears as himself, Ted's idol, in an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
  • Graham Souness played himself in Boys From The Blackstuff.
  • Laugh-In's Joanne Worley appears on an episode of Caroline in The City when her Stage Door Deli sandwich gets renamed for Caroline.
  • Some of the cast of Laugh-In appeared in an episode of Mad About You.
  • Sammy Davis Jr. once got a cab ride from Archie Bunker, and had to stop by the latter's house to retrieve his briefcase. Hilarity Ensues (for real and Up to Eleven).
  • John McEnroe appeared on CSI New York, playing both himself and a look-alike who makes a hobby of impersonating him. Played with in an interrogation scene, where the look-alike is explaining that he didn't even watch tennis, while the real McEnroe looks on and bitches about his double (including an utterance of his now trademark "You cannot be serious!"), from behind the room's soundproof one-way mirror.
  • M*A*S*H (television) had two instances—one played straight, and one for fun.
    • Clete Roberts plays himself in the episode "The Interview". Filmed in black-and-white Clete Roberts interviews the characters making the episode look like a documentary. Unlike most episodes where everything was scripted and little was ad-libbed, in this episode the actors were given a lot of freedom to answer the questions in-character.
    • In contrast there was the saga of "Captain Tuttle", an Invented Individual created by Hawkeye who became the talk of the camp; in the end-of-episode credits the non-existent Tuttle was billed as playing himself.
  • Sir Terry Wogan appeared as himself presenting his current (at the time of filming) quiz show - and as a voice of the afterlife, passing on instructions to Saul - in the Series 2, Episode 2 of Being Human (UK).
  • Most of the human cast in Greg the Bunny spin-off Warren The Ape.
  • Louis Armstrong appears as himself in Hello, Dolly!.
  • The Seasons 5-7 cast of 3-2-1 Contact.
  • The One-Episode Wonder TV pilot Heat Vision and Jack featured (and would have continued to feature) Ron Silver "As Himself". Despite playing a NASA assassin on this show, Silver was still an actor and at one point, a character points out that "he was the bad guy from Time Cop".
  • The Sopranos encountered many celebrities in their adventures, largely as a result of Chris's attempts to break into the movie business. Among them included Ben Kingsley, Lauren Bacall, Jon Favreau, Janeane Garofalo, and Sandra Bernhard.
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme played himself in an episode of Las Vegas...in which he got killed.
  • The West Wing:
    • Penn & Teller appeared in an episode, in which they pretended to burn an American Flag at the First Daughter's birthday party.
    • Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor, and other performers have played at various White House functions, and campaign events.
  • The title characters of An Evening With Gary Lineker and its Spiritual Successor My Summer With Des. Despite the titles, Lineker and Lynam have minor roles, the shows being about football fans at the 1990 World Cup and Euro '96.
  • Corner Gas had a habit of frequently giving cameos to various Canadian celebrities, ranging from actors to athletes, to musicians, to politicians.
  • Very common on the Colgate Comedy Hour.
  • James Van Der Beek on Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23
  • Mindy Cohn, in a roundabout way, on The Facts of Life. The producers visited a girls' school as preproduction research; there they came upon Cohn, who was a lynchpin around which spun a lot of the school's social activity. Impressed, they created the character of Natalie based on her. Later, they encouraged Cohn—who had never previously considered acting—to audition for the show, and then essentially cast her as herself.

Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Stew, book writer and co-music writer of the semi-autobiographical show Passing Strange, starred in the original productions as The Narrator, who introduces himself in the first song as "Stew", which just adds to the strangeness because he's narrating a story based on the real Stew's life story, which is also strongly implied to be the character Stew's literal life story. It's a little confusing if you think about it too hard, so don't.
    • Things would have gotten really crazy if his understudy had ever gone on.
  • In the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace, Boris Karloff played a criminal who, due to a botched job of plastic surgery, looked just like ... Boris Karloff.


Videogames[edit | hide]


Web Originals[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • This was done in The Critic several times, including the notable second season episode "Siskel and Ebert and Jay and Alice." Film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert voice themselves throughout the whole episode.
  • The Simpsons has had more guest stars playing themselves than probably any show on television.
    • Carried over in Groening's other show, Futurama, where characters have played themselves in roles that vary from parodying, paying neat homages, or Actor Allusion s to themselves.
  • Family Guy subverts this and plays this straight, where most of the "As Themselves" are voiced by the core members of the voice cast. Occasionally, sometimes subtly, sometimes glaringly obviously, will an actual celebrity come to the show to voice themself.
  • Author Harlan Ellison played himself (or rather a caricature of himself, like most Simpsons guest stars) in the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode 'The Shrieking Madness'.
    • Also The New Scooby Doo Movies, which had Jonathan Winters, Don Knotts, Sandy Duncan, Dick Van Dyke, Phyllis Diller and other celebrities voicing their cartoon likenesses. The Cartoon Network spoof Night Of The Living Doo had Gary Coleman, David Cross, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy voicing themselves in cartoon form.
  • Robot Chicken has a metric assload of cameo "as themselves". Some have recurring roles (Ryan Seacrest, Hulk Hogan, Snoop Dogg); others have "starring" one-shot appearances (Sir Mix-A-Lot, Joey Fatone, the Coreys Haim/Feldman).
  • An episode of Dennis the Menace UK featured Dennis entering a Blue Peter competiton, with the then presenters playing themselves. In a nice bit of BBC synergy, this resulted in a Blue Peter segment in which they showed viewers how voice-acting works.
  • Martin and Chris Kratt in Wild Kratts.
  • G.I. Joe: The Movie brought us Sergeant Slaughter, played by Sergeant Slaughter.
  • Both Buzz Aldrin and Dick Clark in Recess