Top 10 Actors Who Always Play Themselves
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Mark Sammut
Well, art really does imitate life! For this list, we're looking at actors and actresses who often portray characters comparable to their public personas. Our list includes Seth Rogen, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Hart, Jennifer Aniston, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Cera, and more! Do YOU think these actors are just playing themselves? Let us know in the comments!
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Special thanks to our user King Paul the Critic for suggesting this idea!
Script written by Mark Sammut
Top 10 Actors Who Always Play Themselves
Well, art does imitate reality. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Actors Who Always Play Themselves.
For this list, we’re looking at actors or actresses who seldom vanish into their roles and often portray characters comparable to their public personas. To be fair, this is not automatically a bad thing - and we’re not necessarily saying we think so, but that we understand why many others do!
#10: Michael Cera
An accomplished child actor with a resume spanning multiple TV series, Michael Cera slipped effortlessly into George Michael Bluth's awkward teen shoes. He was perfect for the role - so much so that he spent the best part of the next decade portraying variants of the "Arrested Development" character. The success of films like "Superbad" and "Juno" further cemented Cera as Hollywood's go-to guy for this particular role. That being said, he’s shown himself capable of breaking the mold on occasion too. Nowadays, Cera no longer passes for a teenager, so the actor has started to slowly change up his filmography from the mid-2010s on.
#9: Jennifer Aniston
Disregarding the sitcom's endless reruns, "Friends" was on the air for a decade. Every week, millions of people watched Jennifer Aniston play the self-absorbed but funny Rachel Green; the series achieved such mind-blowing levels of popularity that the actress and character became practically inseparable. Since then, Aniston has remained in the spotlight, but the famous star rarely ventures away from romantic comedies centering around a metropolitan woman with guy trouble. 2014's "Cake" proved Aniston can handle drama, but comedy obviously comes far more naturally to the actor. She did briefly shake things up in the war flick “The Yellow Birds,” but subsequent projects like “Dumplin’” brought her back to comedy. If she’s going to stick to that genre, how about some edgier comedies in the same vein as "Horrible Bosses" then?
#8: Drew Barrymore
Making her film debut at the age of five, this American actress quickly became a bona fide child star thanks to roles in ‘80s films “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and “Firestarter”. In the first half of the ‘90s, Drew Barrymore gained a reputation for being somewhat of a rebel, and the
actress’ output reflected her public image. Towards the end of the decade, Barrymore shifted
to portraying quirky and strong next-door girls and, since then, has generally stuck to this
archetype - even when playing a zombie! Hey, if you are good at something, why not make the most of it?
#7: Owen Wilson
Much like his fellow Frat Pack buddy Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson carved out a niche for himself in the comedy genre starting in the mid-’90s. His go-to everyman are more often than not quirky, aloof yet genuine, mixed with that signature dry humor. While he may not have always been considered a traditional leading man thanks to his unconventional looks, Wilson has managed to nab main roles thanks to his chemistry with co-stars and ability to be relatable; but there’s just so many times and ways that we can hear him exclaim “Wow” and wonder if the character really needs that or if it’s the actor who can’t seem to separate himself from saying the word. While it’s true that he excels in silly comedies like “Zoolander,” and “Wedding Crashers,” Wilson has shown us that he’s got a dramatic side - and he can be good at it too. Let’s see more of that side of him, Hollywood!
#6: Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg apparently has a thing for the law; whether it’s characters on the side of law enforcement or those who commit crimes, his filmography is littered with cop, soldier and criminal roles. In real life, Wahlberg has had some run-ins with the law, so perhaps his off-screen experiences with authority figures have given him some material to work with. Heck, he even received his first Oscar nod for acting Staff Sergeant Dignam in “The Departed!” But let’s not forget that he first made a splash as an adult star in “Boogie Nights” and earned praise for playing a boxer in “The Fighter.” Despite his spending the 2000s with big budget action flicks and comedies, Wahlberg has shown he’s got tons of range in the past - and we wanna see more of it!
#5: Bruce Willis
Okay, put down the pitchforks, John McClane is nothing short of a legend and nothing is going to change that. However, nowadays, Bruce Willis only ever seems to show up as the mobster or retired cop who is kind of a jerk. Putting aside the Direct-to-DVD films where the icon sleepwalks through a performance, Willis essentially portrays the same character in "Red," "The Expendables," and "Cop Out." 2008's "What Just Happened" even goes as far to cast Willis as a parody version of himself, but the performance is not all that far removed from the actor's typical role. Meanwhile, 2019’s “Glass” has him reprising his role from 2000’s “Unbreakable” and that film’s reviews demonstrate that Willis has got to switch things up.
#4: Kevin Hart
Regardless of whether you appreciate the comedian's shtick or not, there is no disputing the superstar's impressive box office returns. Starting out as a stand-up artist before making the leap to the big screen, audiences flock to theaters to watch Kevin Hart be Kevin Hart, and the fast-talking celebrity never fails to deliver. Often cast opposite tough and taller straight-men, many of Hart's movies are merely extensions of the comedian's stand-up routine and larger than life personality. Honestly, do these characters even have names? We just know them as Kevin Hart.
#3: Seth Rogen
Despite being an accomplished writer, director, and producer; Seth Rogen will forever be known as that stoner dude. Popularized in "Knocked Up" and immortalized with "Pineapple Express," Rogen’s lovable slacker archetype has become his go-to persona in years. He seems so close to these types of roles that even when not cast as a stoner, most of Rogen's films tend to be weird enough to still fit the bill; "Sausage Party" and "This Is the End" were even co-written by the comedian. Rogen normally just dials the performance down for more serious roles, which are few and far between.
#2: Jason Statham
What else are you supposed to do if you’ve got an athlete/model who can do his own stunts and on-camera fighting?! The guy’s multi-talented and it’d be a waste NOT to use them in action movies where his looks and physical abilities can keep audiences thrilled and entertained! However, does he have to be cast as the tough anti-hero over and over again?! We’d like to see him play more characters with depth, like actual human beings! He’s made limited attempts at branching out, and even tried a Texan accent in “Parker” - except that could have, admittedly, used some improvement. However, it’d be nice not to expect, you know, Jason Statham when we see he’s going to be in a film for a change!
Before we unveil our top pick, here are some honorable, or is it dishonorable, mentions:
#1: Sylvester Stallone
Certain performers are too recognizable to completely disappear into a new role. Equally adored for both "Rocky" and "Rambo," two films that showcase the actor's versatility, Sylvester Stallone gradually grew synonymous with tough-guy personas. With the exception of "Cop Land," Sly is nearly always cast as a wise-cracking but kind-hearted cop whose actions speak larger than words. Over the years, Stallone has occasionally attempted to take on less familiar roles, but "Rhinestone" and "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot" would discourage anyone from experimenting too much - cases in point: the 8th and 5th installments of Rocky and Rambo respectively.