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Playing 'Oneself'

When an actor is cast as ‘onseself’–as in, in a role very similar or even directly resembling his public persona–does that diminish the artistry behind the performance?

  • Interesting idea, CalvinLaw. It might be worth expanding on this in the title after a ":". Also, are there some specific examples of theater or movies you were thinking of, or would you like to leave that up to the writer? I hope this helps. – Jordan 5 years ago
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  • Probably leave it up to the writer, it's a vast topic to explore so some freedom might be appreciated! – CalvinLaw 5 years ago
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  • Likely yes, it does diminish it. Because playing yourself, likely as a cameo, can usually lead to mugging, quoting famous lines of yourself, or just being rather dull. Although in some unique cases, I've seen biopics where actors portray people from a persons life, even though they themselves knew the person in question. So rather than play themselves, they play more integral characters, which allows them to contribute more to the project. – Jonathan Leiter 5 years ago
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  • I'd actually take the side that it enhances the role. Who better to play you than you? The actor would know all the motivations and thoughts of the person they are playing. I would however note, that acting in a role like this is dangerous... Playing who you are repeatedly shows you limitations as an actor and also would keep you locked into the same role and forever seen as the one role. And people tend to get bored with these sort of actors. – Tatijana 5 years ago
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  • A great one to look at (popular in the UK but perhaps not so much elsewhere) is <i>Extras</i> by Ricky Gervais. It had lots of famous people (Patrick Stewart, David Bowie) playing versions of themselves that went against the public perception. (Patrick Stewart in genral does quite a lot of him-but-not-quite-him roles.) – Francesca Turauskis 5 years ago
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  • in most cases a cameo of yourself only enhances the public persona because people enjoy recognizing parts of the real world in film or tv. – thereisnojosie 5 years ago
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  • This is a great concept. I've always wondered if the actor is truly playing their own self or just who they think they are. To be completely honest, I think this may delve into a deeper concept of who we define our own self as and whether it is who we are or just who we think we are. Anyway, back onto the subject, no, I do not believe that an actor or actress playing himself or herself ruins and/or diminishes the artistry of acting. I believe it may even enhance it and bring it to a new level. One in which the actor or actress may even become confused with who they really are.Think about it, an actor or actress plays a number of different characters in a given time. When they play the characters they are paid to play they become the character. Some may slowly roll into the character and some might dive in head on. Regardless, the actor or actress becomes the character and sometimes they lose their own self in order to play the character. With respect, take Heath Ledger for example. A great actor who played arguably the best joker of all time as well as many other roles that are and will be very well remembered. However, the argument could be made that he "lost" himself by taking on the role of the joker and became the Joker. Who really was Heath Ledger and who would he have been after playing the Joker? Would he have changed? Would he have known who his own self was or would he have to recall and push to retrieve who he was after taking on the dark role. The world will never know. – shaynezamora 5 years ago
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  • I've wondered about it... Well, like in the Goosebumps movie the real R.L Stein makes a cameo while his "character" is actually played by Jack Black. Why is that? It could be that they were looking to make him younger or because the acting skills were more important. – Candice Evenson 5 years ago
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