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11 Movies Where Actors Pretended to Be Themselves

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Nicolas Cage playing Nicolas Cage in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a form of self-care. In the action-comedy, in theaters April 22, Cage plays an even more over-the-top version of himself, who, in dire need of money, agrees to attend a superfan’s birthday party. The problem is, that admirer (played by Pedro Pascal) is wanted by the CIA for an alleged kidnapping. Cage is soon tasked with taking down the bad guy like he’s done so many times before in his films, forcing him to blur the lines between his truth and his fiction.

Cage isn’t the first actor to play a heightened version of himself on screen. Over the years, performers like John Malkovich, Anna Faris, and Neil Patrick Harris have brought hilariously nightmarish versions of themselves to the big screen. Often, it’s their way of poking fun at their celebrity personas. (See: Keanu Reeves’ quickie cameo in Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe.) For Cage, his latest film allowed him to show the world he had a sense of humor about himself. “It’s a pretty off-the-wall sense of humor,” he told Rolling Stone. “I think some of the moments [in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent] are fairly close to me.”

In honor of Cage’s latest turn as Nic Cage, here are 11 other actors who pretended to be themselves in films.

Keanu Reeves in Always Be My Maybe

When it’s revealed that John Wick himself is Sasha’s (Ali Wong) new boyfriend, you can understand why her best friend Marcus (Randall Park) would be a bit shocked. But what’s most shocking is how attractive Keanu is, even when he’s bloviating about a plate of pretentious food that “plays with the concept of time.”

Margot Robbie in The Big Short

From the comfort of a luxurious bubble bath, Robbie pops open a bottle of champagne and gives the audience the CliffsNotes version of subprime mortgages. “Whenever you hear subprime,” she says. “Think sh–t.” Thank you for your service, Margot.

John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich

A puppeteer (played by John Cusack) finds a portal into the brain of actor John Malkovich, played by none other than John Malkovich. In one scene, Malkovich discovers the wormhole and finds himself having conversations with at least 50 other versions of himself using only the word “Malkovich.” Safe to say, this Charlie Kaufman-penned movie is a trip.

Megan Fox in The Dictator

The 2012 political satire turns the Jennifer’s Body star into just another notch in the belt of dictator General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen). She isn’t interested in cuddling, but she would like to get the same perks Katy Perry did for hooking up with the dictator: a diamond Rolex.

Al Pacino in Jack and Jill

Come for one of Hollywood’s greatest actors trying to seduce Adam Sandler in full drag, stay for Pacino lampooning some of his most classic lines from Dog Day Afternoon, The Godfather Part II, and Scarface in a rap for a fake Dunkin’ Donuts commercial.

LeBron James in Trainwreck

LeBron may or may not be the NBA’s G.O.A.T., but he’s certainly the MVP of the 2015 Amy Schumer comedy. In it, he plays an unnecessarily frugal version of himself, who is constantly trying to give his best friend Dr. Aaron Connors (played by Bill Hader) relationship advice. That is, when he isn’t urging the sports surgeon to visit him in Cleveland, which is just as fun as Miami, he swears.

Billy Zane in Zoolander

The Titanic baddie isn’t the only celeb who is in attendance to witness male models Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) fight it out on the runway. (Winona Ryder is smitten with Derek, while David Bowie gets the final say on who wins the walk-off.) But it’s Zane’s cameo that gives us the pitch perfect line: “Listen to your friend Billy Zane,” which really should have been the What Would Jesus Do? (W.W.J.D.) of the early aughts.

Neil Patrick Harris in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

With this 2004 buddy stoner comedy starring John Cho and Kal Penn, NPH said goodbye to Doogie Howser in spectacular fashion: by absolutely trippin’ balls. His performance as a lap dance-loving, car-jacking doppelgänger was so good he returned as his onscreen unhinged self in the sequels: 2008’s Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay and 2011’s A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas.

Anna Faris in Keanu

For the first few moments of Faris’s cameo in the Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele-led 2016 cat-napping comedy, it appears that she’s playing a crazy celeb. Then, Peele’s character Rell quietly says, “I loved you in House Bunny,” and it’s revealed that nope, she’s playing a crazy version of herself. It only gets weirder from there; we’re talking katana sword-wielding weird.

Michael Cera in This Is The End

Nearly everyone in Hollywood appears as bizarre versions of themselves in the 2013 apocalypse comedy—Seth Rogen, Rihanna, Emma Watson, Channing Tatum, just to name a few—but it’s Michael Cera that steals the movie. The Arrested Development star ditches his nice guy image to play a drug-addled, threesome-having version of himself that’s so heinous you’ll never see the actor the same way again.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

In the Kevin Smith film, the duo are working on a sequel to their Oscar-winning film Good Will Hunting titled Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season. Let’s just say, them apples are rotten to the core.


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