We have so many great actors to admire and enjoy, and many of them have an extensive body of work. The most interesting actors are often those who like to mix things up and try new roles, and they are normally the ones we like to watch the most. In fact, when it comes to it, sometimes actors playing themselves works out incredibly well. Of course, it’s almost always an exaggerated version of themselves, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to have a pop at their persona or reputation.
Actors who aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves always go down well, and that’s why we love watching movies and shows with some of our favorite actors playing themselves. This is a list of some of the best actors who portrayed themselves on screen in an array of different ways. Sure, some of them may not be the best actors in the world, but they give some of our favorite portrayals.
Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm
It makes sense that the funniest comedy on television should be fronted by the genius who brought us Seinfeld. Larry David is a comedy institution these days, and rightly so as well. In Curb, he plays an exaggerated version of himself – a cantankerous, curmudgeon who just cannot seem to get out of his own way. The best parts of the show are seeing where Larry sows the seeds of his own downfall that will come back to haunt him at a later date. A great alternative title for the show could have been ‘How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.’
Matt LeBlanc – Episodes
The premise of Episodes is simple – a pair of British writers (also a couple) head to Hollywood for a US remake of their successful TV show, starring Matt LeBlanc, but what if he was a jerk? This is basically the central vibe of the show, and it works brilliantly. LeBlanc plays the jerk role with delight and destroys his Friends persona within a couple of episodes. The chemistry between the leads is excellent, and there are many laugh out loud moments – LeBlanc, as you would imagine, steals every scene he’s in.
Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon – The Trip
If you’ve never seen The Trip, we recommend you check it out as soon as you can. The show, directed by Michael Winterbottom, follows Coogan and Brydon, playing exaggerated versions of themselves, as they embark on restaurant tours. They spend the time bickering, comparing careers, and doing impressions of other celebrities. It’s fun, engaging, quotable, and hilarious, and shows us a different side to two of Britain’s leading comedians.
Neil Patrick Harris – Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
NPH is best-known for playing Doogie Howser M.D. as a kid, and, more recently, as womanizer Barney Stinson of hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother. In Harold and Kumar he’s closer to Stinson, but Stinson if he had no redeeming features. In the movie, he steals a car, parties with questionable women, and is generally obnoxious. He’s also the best thing in the movies, and the only negative is that his appearance isn’t longer.
These are just a few of our favorite examples of actors who have portrayed themselves on screen. There are plenty more of course, such as any of the celebrities who have appeared in Extras. A special mention must go to James Van Der Beek for shredding his Dawson image in Don’t Trust the B- in Apartment 23. But, the ones we’ve listed we feel are the absolute pinnacle of actors playing themselves on screen.