Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time!
Empire's Guardians Of The Galaxy Cover
Does Star Wars Have A Brain Trust?
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
Subscribe: 6 Issues For £15!
Subscribe today and save 37% off the cover price!
Feature
The 50 Best Stars Playing Themselves In Film
Watch Hollywood’s finest keeping it real onscreen

submit to reddit

This week sees the release of This Is The End, the apocalypse comedy that sees a host of Hollywood comedians – led by Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jonah Hill – play heightened versions of themselves, left cowering in a house when the end of the world arrives. But this is just the latest in a long line of films where Hollywood’s finest have played themselves onscreen – sometimes in all seriousness, more often to ridiculous effect. Here are some of the best examples, including a few that you may not have seen…

WORDS HELEN O'HARA, PHIL DE SEMLYEN, ALI PLUMB
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ...
  1 of 50 Next

Arnold Schwarzenegger

The film: Last Action Hero (1993)
Version of self played: Movie-star Arnie
Approximate screen time: 130 minutes

The high concept behind proscenium-buster Last Action Hero – Arnie plays Arnie while playing a version of Arnie in an Arnie movie – was so self-indulgent its title sounded dangerously like a prophecy. Hearing Arnie say “I’ll be back…”, before chuckling at his own cleverness and following up with, “Ha! Bet you didn’t know I was going to say that?” should have been the final word in action cinema, the ginormobiceped equivalent of the celluloid melting in Persona, except it was all plenty daft and fun enough to make it slightly more than a ruinously expensive curio. But it’s when the ‘real’ Arnie shows up at the film’s premiere and starts talking about Planet Hollywood – much to his wife’s embarrassment – that things get weird. And the bit where he says, “If the governor gets here, call me”? That’s just become more meta with age.

Marks out of ten: A pair (of achers).

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ...
 
1 of 50
Next

Have Your Say
Register or login now to let us know what you think.

Your Comments

1 Rocky films
The rocky films have a few...but two that should be in this list are joe Frazier from Rocky, and james brown in rocky 4 (living in America!) More

Posted by echoalpha92 on Monday July 22, 2013, 09:26

2 Silent Movie
Did I miss Mel Brooks' 'Silent Movie' in the compilation? Surely you can't ignore a film that features Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Liza Minelli, Anne Bancroft, Paul Newman and Marcel Marceau all playing themselves? Newman is my favourite, but the Marceau gag is the most memorable. More

Posted by cloacina on Wednesday July 17, 2013, 21:45

3 Leonard Maltin
You should have put film critic Leonard Maltin on this list. His appearance in Gremlins 2, reviewing Gremlins as the Gremlins themselves take issue it it, was inspired. Unless you were worried the Gremlins might come after you next..... More

Posted by Kev2012 on Monday July 15, 2013, 20:30

4 William S. Burroughs
No love for the BRILLIANT cameo of Burroughs at the end of 'Drugstore Cowboy? For SHAME!' More

Posted by glaive on Sunday July 14, 2013, 16:25

5
Johnny Depp in L.A. Without A Map?? Dull film but the combination of David Tennant and Johnny Depp onscreen is just too awesome to be ignored. More

Posted by jennylouise on Saturday July 13, 2013, 20:50

6 Julia Roberts
Seriously Julia Roberts in Oceans Twelve doesn't get a mention... That was brilliant and I don't think anyone saw that coming. More

Posted by Xolelwa on Sunday July 7, 2013, 23:48

7
Yeah tom jones should be number 1 hes a legend! More

Posted by boboshambles on Friday July 5, 2013, 19:37

8 The Muse
and here are a couple of a list directors going crazy in albert brook's film- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m3gRtGeMGY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ly7FkGb3b-c More

Posted by spark1 on Tuesday July 2, 2013, 10:26

9 RE: nice
L: hermes16 nice list, however as with all these 'top 50' type list features that Empire does, I wish they'd include a page that just summarizes the list, as scrolling through every individual page takes ages. ave you still got dial-up? More

Posted by Osric on Tuesday July 2, 2013, 10:16

10 Tom Petty in The Postman...
I loved seeing "future Tom Petty" in The Postman, particularly when Kevin Costner's character asks him "Weren't you famous once?"... Nice joke. More

Posted by Toursiveu on Tuesday July 2, 2013, 02:38

11 The Voice and The Godfather of Soul
Brilliant list, but you just have to have forgotten these 2 amazing playing themselves examples. Jones as Tom Jones: Saviour of the Universe in Mars Attacks.helps save the world from Ack-Acks and then is first in the queue in the repopulating of the planet. Plus he is at one with nature. Amaze-balls! But the Voice is NOT a fan of Slim Whitman. www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFs6FBxCfAUb]2. James Brown as unlucky but slightly creepy James Brown in The Tuxedo.Godfather of Soul is in his dressing room when stumbled upon by Jackie Chan and Jennifer Love Hewitt. He initially is very generous and polite, offering the mis-matched couple front row seats but immediately follows it up by "complementing" Miss Love Hewitt on her "Nice Rack". Jackie then accidentally side swipes him and knocks him out cold (sweat). www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxy0q9dp1GA More

Posted by frankie on Monday July 1, 2013, 15:48

12
No love for Kurt Vonnegut in Back to School? Which also sets up for a great call back joke More

Posted by AgentDesmond on Sunday June 30, 2013, 21:51

13 Repeat Offender
actually the shat has previous on this with roles in 'free enterprise' and 'showtime' More

Posted by spark1 on Sunday June 30, 2013, 11:34

14 RE: haha:D
This list immediately made me think of Julia Roberts in Twelvese character Tess has to impersonate the famous actress Julia Roberts to fool the 'real-life' Bruce Willis??? Urgh. I'm sure everyone involved thought this was awfully funny, clever and meta... but it's the self-satisfied straw that breaks this lame camel-of-a-film's back. More

Posted by tommypocket on Saturday June 29, 2013, 10:46

15 haha:D
Shatner in Fanboys is the best of them all!=P "Im William Shatner, I can score anything" haha so damn good More

Posted by Paulieman on Friday June 28, 2013, 16:36

16 The Beatles
They didn't play themselves in Yellow Submarine More

Posted by Jack Spank on Friday June 28, 2013, 16:12

17 Surely...
...Chuck Norris in Dodgeball? More

Posted by Humungousfungus on Friday June 28, 2013, 14:32

18
What about Zoe Bell in Death prof? More

Posted by retranimator on Friday June 28, 2013, 14:05

19
I agree More

Posted by shinebox123 on Friday June 28, 2013, 13:11

20 nice
nice list, however as with all these 'top 50' type list features that Empire does, I wish they'd include a page that just summarizes the list, as scrolling through every individual page takes ages. More

Posted by hermes16 on Friday June 28, 2013, 12:55

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's Guardians Of The Galaxy Review
Our official verdict on Marvel's latest addition to their cinematic universe

Frank Grillo's Ten Toughest Hollywood Tough Guys
The Purge: Anarchy star picks his favourite badasses

Role By Role With Joel McHale
The star of The Soup and Community on Spider-Man 2 and much more

'I Have The Club But I Didn't Get The Lion's Head'
Dwayne Johnson (and pals) talks Hercules props, action and ancient superheroes

Classic Feature: The Making Of The Silence Of The Lambs
Is this the most frightening movie ever made?

Classic Feature: Jack Nicholson - Gods Among Us
Charisma, consistency and cunning summed up in a single word: Jack.

Peter Fonda On Peter Fonda
The Hollywood legend relives his career highlights

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time Subscribers' Cover

Subscribe today and get the cover and 3 issues for only £10!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)