Celebrity Paradox / Film

  • Played with in Targets. Boris Karloff plays aging actor Byron Orloff, so it's Orloff who plays the Karloff roles in The Criminal Code and The Terror.
  • In Bombshell, Jean Harlow plays Lola Burns, a Hollywood movie star. At one point Lola has to do retakes for Red Dust, which was a real movie that Jean Harlow starred in.
  • Keystone Studios silent comedy The Knockout (1914) has in one scene a clearly visible poster for Keystone production Caught in a Cabaret, which starred several castmembers from The Knockout.
  • Stranger Than Fiction's entire plot is based around the aversion of this trope.
  • Part One of Atlas Shrugged shows us that heroine Dagny Taggart has a photo of the original book's author Ayn Rand on her computer.
  • In the silent film Show People, a satire of Hollywood movie-making, Marion Davies has a cameo as Marion Davies in addition to starring as aspiring actress Peggy Pepper. Davies as Pepper meets Davies as Davies and is not impressed.
  • In The Seven Year Itch, when Richard Sherman is being questioned about who The Girl (played by Marilyn Monroe) is, he says, "Wouldn't you like to know! Maybe it's Marilyn Monroe!"
  • In Armageddon, Pulp Fiction exists in that universe as told in a small joke. Bruce Willis and Steve Buscemi appear in both films.
  • In the Arnold Schwarzenegger flick Last Action Hero, the real world contains the same actors and movies that we know in reality. In the universe of Jack Slater IV (starring Schwarzenegger), Danny finds a poster for Terminator 2: Judgment Day with Sylvester Stallone in the titular role (earlier in the film, the T-1000 makes a brief cameo), ostensibly to explain why no one thinks Slater bears an uncanny resemblance to the cyborg from the future. Which is itself a bit of a Historical In-Joke, since Stallone was one of the actors considered for the Terminator role. And then the eponymous hero Jack meets Schwarzenegger himself, who is impressed enough to ask Jack to be his body double. Stallone hits Schwarzenegger back in Demolition Man, where his character learns that Arnold was apparently President when he was in hibernation.
    • Demolition Man did this itself in a scene where Simon Phoenix sarcastically calls Stallone's character Rambo, referencing a character Stallone also played.
  • There's a memorable Lampshade Hanging of this trope in the otherwise forgettable film Stakeout: To pass the time while on stakeout, Emilio Estevez and Richard Dreyfuss's characters are playing a guessing game where they cite memorable lines of dialogue and quiz the other as to what movie it's from. Emilio Estevez's character, in a hammish way, recounts the line: "This was not a boating accident!" Dreyfuss, after a moment's pause, replies "I don't know." The line is from Jaws, spoken by Matt Hooper — a character played by Richard Dreyfuss. Apparently, they put this in the movie because it actually happened on the set.
  • Possibly the earliest example after Arsenic and Old Lace: In the 1940 film His Girl Friday, a character played by Ralph Bellamy is described as looking a lot like "that fellow in the movies, Ralph Bellamy".
  • In the film Sex Kittens Go To College Mamie Van Doren plays a super-smart professor who is described as looking like Mamie Van Doren.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension averts this by treating the movie as a documentary of the real life of Buckaroo Banzai, who also has his life's stories printed in comic book form and uses his fan club as a spy network.
  • The original Ocean's 11, starring the Rat Pack, played with this trope. In the final shot, the characters played by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford walk past the marquee of the Sands hotel. The marquee advertises the Sands' featured entertainers: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford. Despite this, Dean Martin plays a completely different singer named Sam Harmon, who does a few shows in Vegas without anyone mentioning he looks familiar.
  • The remade Ocean's Eleven flirted with this in one of the earliest scenes, when Danny and Rusty walk out of the club where they've been teaching celebrities to play poker. It's very odd to see Topher Grace and Joshua Jackson get mobbed by squealing fans, while George Clooney and Brad Pitt stroll by unnoticed.
  • Ocean's Twelve had Tess Ocean, played by Julia Roberts, infiltrating a museum by impersonating Julia Roberts... badly. And complains that it's "too personal" to impersonate someone else who's out there somewhere. And then she has to interact with several other celebrities like Bruce Willis who know Julia Roberts. The fact that Danny Ocean, played by George Clooney, couldn't do the same implies that this is a case of One-Shot Revisionism.
  • Similar to the Julia Roberts example above: as a running gag in The Cannonball Run, eccentric competitor Seymour Goldfarb Jr. obsessively impersonates Roger Moore, both to attract women and to justify his use of 007-style gadgets to get an edge in the race. Goldfarb, naturally, is played by Roger Moore... who sends up both his actual celebrity status and his past in-character behavior as James Bond. They could only hint at Bond, though, because they couldn't get permission to actually use Bond's name.
  • Several examples from the Back to the Future series:
    • Huey Lewis makes a cameo appearance as an audition judge, but Marty has a Huey Lewis and the News poster on his bedroom wall. The song Marty and his band play for the judges in this scene is a version of "The Power of Love", a song Huey Lewis wrote and recorded specifically for the film and which is featured prominently in the soundtrack. And Marty's clock radio plays the Huey Lewis song "Back in Time", although not the bits of the song that directly reference the film.
    • The Cafe '80s scene in Back to the Future Part II shows brief clips of Family Ties and Taxi — featuring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, respectively. However, whether the actors were featured in the shows of the universe is subject to debate.
    • Back To The Future: The Animated Series does it too; Marty sarcastically claims to be Michael J. Fox (to which Verne notes a resemblance), and a brief shot of a movie theater marquee in Hill Valley lists Back to the Future as a current attraction.
  • In Love Actually, Liam Neeson's character makes several jokes about having Claudia Schiffer appear and start a relationship with him. Towards the end of the movie he meets a woman named Carol, played by Claudia Schiffer.
  • In Looney Tunes: Back in Action, DJ Drake claims to have been Brendan Fraser's stunt double in The Mummy Trilogy. At the end of the movie, Drake runs into the real Fraser (also played by Fraser, obviously) and punches him in the face for acting like a dick.
    DJ: (to Daffy) Have you seen those Mummy movies? I was in them more than Brendan Fraser was!
  • Foolish Wives by Erich von Stroheim features a character reading a book called Foolish Wives by Erich von Stroheim.
  • The novel Bridget Jones' Diary is based in part on the plot of Pride and Prejudice — the love interest is named Mark Darcy, and the title character is obsessed with Colin Firth's portrayal of the original Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC adaptation of the Jane Austen novel. In the film, Pride & Prejudice isn't mentioned, but Mark Darcy is played by... Colin Firth. A scene from the book's sequel (but deleted from the movie) shows Bridget interviewing Colin Firth.
  • Spider-Man:
  • Zig-Zagged in Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back:
    • The film is about Jay and Silent Bob getting a movie made about them (and not getting paid for it). They discuss who should star in the movie. Ben Affleck's character Holden suggests that because it's Miramax, it's probably Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
    • Affleck then shows up later as himself, along with Damon, shooting Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season. Damon mentions that Affleck talked him into doing Dogma, a previous Kevin Smith film in which Jay and Silent Bob also appear as important characters. Interestingly, on the DVD commentary the writers mention that they considered having different actors play Affleck and Damon, including the Wayans brothers.
    • For the hat trick, at the very end, two characters compare Mallrats and Chasing Amy — the latter of which had Affleck playing the same character he does in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. This scene also features the mind-screwery of Joey Lauren Adams' character Alyssa Jones, who in Chasing Amy mentions having sex with Gwen Turner — a character Adams played in Mallrats.
    • Even outside The View Askewniverse, things get strange. Mark Hamill, who played in Star Wars, shows up as himself and references the film. Carrie Fisher, who also played in Star Wars, shows up to play a nun.
  • From James Bond:
    • The original Bond novels describe Bond as looking like a cross between Hoagy Carmichael and David Niven. The latter got to play him in Casino Royale (1967).
    • The film Casino Royale (2006) faithfully reproduces a scene from the original novel where James Bond orders a very specific kind of martini — three parts Gordon's gin, one part vodka, a half part Lillet. In the real world, this drink, called a "Vesper" after Bond's love interest in the novel, has become well-known enough to have an entry on That Other Wiki, and a bartender presumably wouldn't need to be instructed on how to make one. But in the movieverse, the James Bond novels don't exist, so presumably nobody has ever heard of a Vesper martini.
  • Blazing Saddles happily breaks the fourth wall with no regard for the celebrity paradoxes it creates. Among other things:
    • Taggart yells "I'm working for Mel Brooks!" — who was indeed the writer and director of the film, but also appears in the movie in two different roles.
    • Hedley Lamarr, Sheriff Bart, and the Waco Kid all break out of their film set and go to the theater to see Blazing Saddles.
    • The famous Running Gag regarding Hedley Lamarr's name is lampshaded by the governor when he points out that it's 1874, meaning that "You'll be able to sue her!"
  • Mel Brooks did it again in Spaceballs, when the villains try to track the heroes by picking up a VHS of Spaceballs and watching it to see where they wind up, Hand-Waving the technology that allows you to see forward in time like that (sort of).
  • The Scream franchise made it big in part because it was a horror movie that acknowledged that people will know about horror movies and thus display at least some Genre Savvy, compared to all the horror films that take place in universes where apparently no such things exist.
  • Like most rapper-actors, Method Man can most often be found portraying gang members and fictional rappers in his numerous television and film roles. You have to wonder if any of them listen to Wu Tang.
    • In How High, in which Method Man plays one of the two main characters, another character mentions that he listens to Wu Tang Clan on his headphones.
    • In The Wackness, he plays a drug supplier who gives the main character a copy of Biggie's Ready to Die, an album he himself was featured on.
  • In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, while walking through a rock club in a flashback within the film, Johnny Depp as Thompson narrates, "There I was...," suddenly stopping when he spots the real Dr. Hunter S. Thompson in the shot, exclaiming, "Mother of God, there I am! Holy fuck...".
  • In Crank: High Voltage a witness is asked to describe Jason Statham's character, Chev Chelios, and refers to him as "like the man from those Transpointed movies." Guess who plays the Transporter.
  • Natalie Wood appears As Herself in The Candidate, in a scene where she meets Senate nominee Bill McKay, played by Robert Redford, and says she likes everything he stands for. She does not wonder why Bill looks so much like her co-star in Inside Daisy Clover and This Property Is Condemned.
  • My Favorite Blonde has one scene in which Larry (Bob Hope) turns on the radio and hears Bob Hope's radio show.
    Larry: I can't stand that guy.
  • Subverted in Airplane!, in which Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, played the co-pilot Roger Murdoch. The kid visiting the cockpit recognizes Kareem and tells him how much he admires him; Murdoch denies that he's Kareem. Then the kid tells him what his dad thinks of him as a player, prompting Kareem to angrily defend himself. By the time "Murdoch" passes out and is dragged out of the cockpit, he's suddenly in full Laker uniform (including the iconic goggles he played in). The writers did this because the film they were spoofing, Zero Hour, had football star Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch playing the pilot.
    • MTV reversed this scene (right down to the dialogue) in their first Rock and Jock Basketball game, where a fan mistakes Kareem for the famous pilot Roger Murdoch.
  • Played with in Hellboy, which is based on the comics: the eponymous demon is actually a pretty popular myth, on par with stuff like Yeti and Bigfoot (though perhaps slightly more believed), and has comics based on him, prompting a supporting character, upon meeting him, to be surprised that his comics hero from childhood is real, and for Hellboy himself to comment that he dislikes the comics as they get his eyes wrong.
    • On the other side of the canon, the graphic novel Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus has articles detailing the title character's in-world media appearances, all of which were highly inaccurate and So Bad, It's Good at best. One of the articles mentions that "acclaimed Mexican director Guillermo del Toro" had expressed interest in remaking the largely inexplicable Mexican films (the ones that portrayed Lobster Johnson as a Masked Luchador).
    • Referenced in Abe & Kroenen, where Kroenen mentions that the Hellboy clone had gotten himself a job as a Hellboy impersonator. Abe asks if the clone has a partner impersonating him and Kroenen mentions that there is an Abe impersonator "but she's not very good at it."
  • Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet was the R2D2 or C3PO of its day and has been used almost like a live action animated actor, making this one of the few times this trope applies to a nonhuman character. The Blu-Ray/HD home video version of the movie includes a Thin Man episode and a movie The Invisible Boy where Robby appears, under his own name; needless to say, characters are astonished by the robot but never associate it with a movie.
  • Clint Eastwood seems to like this trope:
    • At the end of Any Which Way You Can, the cast is musing over their drinks in a bar, where the lounge singer is singing the song, "You're Just a Coca-Cola Cowboy," with the line "You've got a sexist smile and Robert Redford hair." The actual line in the song is "You've got an Eastwood smile and Robert Redford hair."
    • Clint Eastwood was also in a short Italian movie in which he played a Lazy Husband, while his frustrated wife attempted to get him to take her out to see A Fistful of Dollars. Perhaps a legitimate artistic point?
    • Dirty Harry intervenes to stop a bank robbery. A nearby theatre is playing Play Misty for Me.
  • From Star Trek:
    • In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, we're shown a wall of pictures of all the vessels ever called the Enterprise, including the Federation flagship — and the real life NASA Space Shuttle Orbiter. However, the real ship only got its name because of Star Trek (even though it wasn't the first vessel of any kind to be called Enterprise). In the Star Trek universe itself, it's the other way around — the flagship was named after the real-life orbiter.
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was largely a Fish Out of Temporal Water comedy in which the Enterprise crew goes back to 1986, an era by which Star Trek was so influential it would be hard to encounter anyone who wouldn't recognize them.
    • In the 2009 Star Trek reboot, a young Alternate Universe Kirk listens to "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys, a band who in Real Life would make frequent reference to Star Trek.
  • Final Destination. It's Very Loosely Based on a True Story. Nobody remarks about the extremely similar 747 crash four years earlier.
  • A particularly complex example is Man on the Moon, a Biopic of Andy Kaufman. Danny DeVito plays Kaufman's agent George Shapiro. DeVito was also a producer of the film, and explained in a making-of short that he had wanted to play Shapiro from the beginning — not realizing that this paradox would be created because he had played Louie DePalma on Taxi, which was Kaufman's biggest mainstream success and thus had to be brought up in the film. DeVito's characters in the movie and Taxi were visually and dramatically distinct enough that he might have been able to play them both, and they may have been going this way in early drafts. Eventually, though, they chose to write out Louie (and thus the real DeVito) from the Taxi-related scenes. At least one critic admitted he hadn't noticed Louie's absence until later, perhaps in part because most of the other Taxi cast members appeared as themselves.
  • The first scene of Tango & Cash has Tango reply to a uniformed officer's claim that Tango "thinks he's Rambo" with "Rambo is a pussy." Sylvester Stallone played both Rambo and Tango.
  • Adaptation., starring Meryl Streep and Nicolas Cage, is a cross of this and Post Modernism. Cage plays screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, the film's actual playwright. He's struggling to adapt Susan Orlean's book The Orchid Thief to film — the book and author are real, although Streep plays Orlean. Kaufman even visits the set of the previous film he wrote, Being John Malkovich. And the screenplay the film's Kaufman is written turns out to be the screenplay for the actual film you are watching.
  • Used to effect in Fight Club. When Marla and the Narrator are talking outside a movie theatre, the movie playing is Seven Years in Tibet, starring Brad Pitt, who also plays Tyler Durden in Fight Club. Given that this scene takes place after the Narrator discovers that Tyler is his split personality, the film serves as a subtle reminder that Tyler is invisibly present in this scene.
  • In the 2007 St. Trinian's:
    • Colin Firth plays the Minister for Education — which means that we get jokes about a dog named "Mr. Darcy" and a reference to Girl with a Pearl Earring.
    • Additionally, Colin Firth himself gets a mention. That mention being that his character in Girl with a Pearl Earring was right to want to shag the title model.
    • When Headmistress Fritton (Rupert Everett) encounters Geoffrey Thwaites (Firth) for the first time in years, they reminisce that they first met so long ago, it seems like it was "Another Country". This happens to be the title of the 1984 film in which they played roommates.
  • From Batman:
    • Knox is jokingly handed a goofy cartoon of a bat in a suit, which happens to be signed by Batman's original creator Bob Kane.
    • The Joker and his gang enter the Flugelheim Museum carrying a boombox that plays "Partyman", a song Prince wrote for the "pop" soundtrack and which includes sound clips from Batman itself. The Joker spots Vicki Vale and stops the recording seconds before it would have played one of Vicki's lines from later in the film. When the Joker turns the tape back on, it's suddenly playing a different song.
  • In Shrink, Robin Williams plays actor Jake Holden. Another character in the film is a fan of classic movies, and in one scene she's watching The Graduate, so we know Dustin Hoffman exists as himself in the film. The question is: did Jake Holden star alongside him in Hook in this universe? Was he also the star of Good Morning, Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, and many others? He must have been, because no one comments on how he looks just like Robin Williams.
  • In Zombieland, Bill Murray cameos As Himself. He doesn't seem to notice how much Tallahassee looks like the guy he starred with in Kingpin. There's also a poster for 2012, a film in which Woody Harrelson starred.
    • Particularly fun is the use of footage from the Sylvester Stallone episode of The Muppet Show, with Kermit dubbed over to say Rocky's name instead.
  • In D3: The Mighty Ducks, team captain Charlie references the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, a pro hockey team named after them. Why a pro team would name itself after a youth team — even one that did win the under-18 world championship in the previous film — is not addressed. In Real Life, there was an NHL team called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, which was owned by Disney and named after the Mighty Ducks movie. (When Disney sold the team, it was rechristened Anaheim Ducks, mitigating the connection.)
  • In All About Lily Chou-Chou, one of the boys points out that his friend's mother looks just like Izumi Inamori. This makes sense considering who plays the part.
  • In Rosemary's Baby, Rosemary tells Terry, the girl she meets in the basement laundry, "I thought you were Victoria Vetri, the actress." Of course, Terry is played by Victoria Vetri, using another name. In the book, Rosemary briefly mistakes Terry for Anna Maria Alberghetti. Alberghetti was about thirty at the time and looked younger; she could have played Terry, but perhaps they couldn't get her.
  • Evan Almighty uses the Leno Device, with The Daily Show's Jon Stewart commenting on the situation. Oddly enough, he fails to notice that the title character, up until recently, strongly resembled former correspondent and close personal friend of his Steve Carell. There's also a movie theatre marquee advertising The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
  • At one point in the Fritz Lang film Spies, the protagonist runs by a wall covered with posters for Lang's previous film, Metropolis. So presumably, in this version of Berlin, Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou exist but aren't working on Spies. Fair enough. However, nobody seems to notice that the wheelchair-bound criminal mastermind or the clown he often disguises himself as bears an uncanny resemblance to Rudolf Klein-Rogge, who played the mad scientist Rotwang in Metropolis. Oh well, foreign agents probably don't go to the movies much anyway.
  • In The A-Team, Hannibal is played by Liam Neeson. At one point, the A-Team needs to get through airport security, so they all dress in disguise (much like in the original show). Face is a beatnik, Murdock is a rabbi, B.A. is an African in tribal dress (Hilarity Ensues), and Hannibal is... Liam Neeson. Isn't he trying to sneak past airport security?
  • In Blade Trinity, the Nightstalkers use The Tomb of Dracula to show the Daywalker who the Big Bad is. The character Blade first appeared in The Tomb of Dracula #10.
  • Stan Lee is known for cameos in movies based on his creations, sometimes credited As Himself. Although he's rarely mentioned by name in these films, he does exclaim, "I'm Stan Lee!" when trying to crash Reed and Sue's wedding in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
  • Michael Bay liked doing this in his Transformers films:
    • In the first film, Armageddon is mentioned, which Bay also directed. Toys such as "Furby" and "My Little Pony" also appear; these are made by Hasbro, who also makes Transformers toys.
    • In the second one, Sam scribbles on a poster for Bad Boys II, another film Bay directed.
    • In the third one, Wheelie is watching an episode of the orginal Star Trek ("it's the one where Spock goes nuts"). Sentinel Prime appear later in the film, voiced by Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy.
    • In Transformers: Age of Extinction, one of the voice clips Bumblebee uses is "I am calm" from The Big Lebowski, said by the character Walter Sobchak. Sobchak was played by John Goodman, who voices Autobot Hound in the film.
  • In Eagle Eye, posters for Disturbia can be seen in the Circuit City store. Disturbia was the previous project directed by DJ Caruso and starring Shia LaBeouf, which then begs the question why nobody noticed that Jerry looks a lot like Shia.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, this is done with a landmark rather than a celebrity. The film uses the Petra ruins in Jordan as the entrance to the temple at the end. However, there is nothing apart from solid rock behind the facade in Petra, and the context in which it appears in the film would imply that the actual ruins do not exist in the movie's reality.
  • In Enchanted, while Prince Edward, played by James Marsden, is atop a bus in Times Square and impaling it (It Makes Sense in Context), a billboard for Superman Returns, in which Marsden appears, can be seen behind him. There are also billboards for Wicked and RENT, both of which star Idina Menzel, who also has a supporting role in Enchanted.
  • In How to Marry a Millionaire, main character Schatze Page, played by Lauren Bacall, tries to reassure her older beau, played by William Powell, that young women happily marry older men all the time: "Look at Roosevelt, look at Churchill, look at old fella what's his name in The African Queen." Which raises the question — what younger woman is the "old fella in The African Queen" married to if it isn't Lauren Bacall?
  • In Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) mentions The Shawshank Redemption in one scene. Bob Gunton is featured in both of these movies as different characters.
  • Fanboys is a gleeful celebration of this trope. Although it centers around a group of Star Wars fanboys trying to get a sneak peek at The Phantom Menace, there are a number of cameos from Star Wars actors, including Carrie Fisher as a doctor, Billy Dee Williams as a judge, and Ray Park as a security guard.
  • Stay Tuned stars John Ritter as a TV lover who's Trapped in TV Land. In one instance, he inadvertently finds himself on the set of Three's Company, a show in which Ritter played a main character. The others mistake him for the character he played.
  • At one point in Johnny Mnemonic, there's an extended shot of the back of Henry Rollins' head, and the small Black Flag tattoo on his neck is prominently visible.
  • Played with in the Polish movie Haker, where one of the characters, played by Bogusław Linda, complains about looking just like his actor and being mistaken for him.
  • Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time shows what happens when you avert this trope. The eponymous Beastmaster, Dar, winds up in 1990's America, and as the car he's in is driving down a street, he sees a movie theater showing that they're playing Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time. Dar looks as confused as the audience is.
  • A rather funny nod is made at the beginning of About a Boy, when its young protagonist Marcus wishes in voiceover that he was “as rich as Haley Joel Osment from The Sixth Sense” so that he could afford a private tutor and avoid having to go to school where he’s being bullied. Marcus’ mother Fiona in About A Boy is played by Toni Collette, who also played Haley Joel’s mother three years earlier in The Sixth Sense.
  • In the British behind-the-scenes documentary Behind the Magic, which aired before the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, Daniel Radcliffe — who plays Harry — mentioned that the scene set in a café was shot in a real café, with walls that were covered in posters for West End plays and musicals. He decided to add a couple more – all of which featured pictures of himself as the lead in Equus from a few years earlier.
  • In Cedar Rapids, Ronald Wilkes is a fan of "the HBO program, The Wire". Wilkes' actor, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., played State Senator Clay Davis on that show.
  • Much of the oeuvre of John Hughes takes place in a shared universe called the "Shermerverse", all of which feature the same high school. This causes issues sometimes:
    • Both The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles take place at that school, and both prominently star Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall — who both play completely different characters in each film. One wonders how two girls who look exactly the same could run in completely different social circles and never be mistaken for each other, or how Farmer Ted could never meet fellow geek Brian Johnson.
    • In Planes, Trains and Automobiles Neal's wife is seen watching She's Having A Baby, another John Hughes film. This raises the question of whether or not Hughes himself exists in the Shermerverse, and if he wrote and directed any respected and memorable teen films there.
  • In the 2002 adaptation of The Time Machine, a holographic museum tour guide in the protagonist's future knows not just about the novel and its author H. G. Wells, but even sings a line from the (in real life non-existent) Broadway musical. Adding to the paradoxical madness is that the film was directed by Wells' real-life great-grandson.
  • The 2000 film of Hamlet presents "The Mousetrap" as Hamlet's experimental student film. For the crucial imagery, he uses clips from an old black-and-white silent movie which in reality is obviously another production of Hamlet.
  • In the Bollywood movie Vaah Life Ho Toh Aisi, Sanjay Dutt plays the God of Death, Yamraj. The other characters mistake him for Sanjay Dutt (or other characters he played). Sanjay Dutt himself appears later in the film for a cameo in which he's mistaken for Yamraj.
  • Invoked with Jello Biafra's cameo in Tapeheads. He plays an FBI Agent arresting the main characters on obscenity charges, a Casting Gag referencing a famous obscenity trial involving the artwork to the Dead Kennedys' Frankenchrist. Then he gets the line "Remember what we did to Jello Biafra?".
  • In A Goofy Movie, Max and Goofy play Twenty Questions (well, more like Goofy was playing and Max was ignoring him), and it's revealed that Goofy was thinking of Walt Disney. So if Mr. Disney existed in this universe, then did he make any Goofy cartoons?
  • Being John Malkovich plays with this trope. While characters recognize Malkovich (who is playing himself), they can't seem to correctly identify which movies he was in.
  • S1m0ne mentions Meryl Streep and Madonna and incorporates elements of both actresses into Simone - which makes one wonder how Al Pacino acted with both of them in Angels in America and Dick Tracy respectively.
  • In Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, Dick's sidekick Pat says (referring to Gruesome), "He's weird. If I didn't know better, I'd say we were dealing with Boris Karloff." Guess who plays Gruesome.
  • In the 2011 film Warrior, The UFC exists in this world. Several UFC fighters appear as themselves, while other current and former UFC fighters appear as fictional characters.
  • In The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, as Karen is being arrested (thanks to Boris and Natasha), Rocky protests that she's an FBI agent, to which the officer replies "Yeah, and I'm John Goodman". Guess who plays him.
  • The S.W.A.T. movie has a rather bizarre example of this. The original TV series clearly exists in the movieverse; the team sings the theme tune when they pass the SWAT test, and Boxer is seen watching a DVD or rerun of the show. And yet somehow nobody noticed that their team has the exact same names as the TV show team, or that Deke's father bears a remarkable resemblance to the original Deke from the TV show.
  • In True Romance, Clarence mentions The Deer Hunter, a film starring Christopher Walken. However, Walken also appears in True Romance as Vicenzo Conccotti.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much had most of its score composed by Bernard Herrmann. He also appears during the climax As Himself, conducting an orchestra in performing the "Storm Clouds Cantata" (an instrumental actually composed by someone else).
  • The K-Horror film White: The Melody of the Curse features K-Pop group After School playing a supporting role as a K-Pop group called "Pure". They open the film by performing After School's real-life song "Bang", but with any mention of After School in the lyrics edited out.
  • Seed of Chucky is all about this, as Chucky and Tiffany are revived as prop dolls used for a film adaptation of them, and Tiffany (voiced by Jennifer Tilly) attempts to transfer her soul into the real-life Jennifer Tilly's body.
  • In White House Down, tour guide Donnie makes reference to the White House being destroyed in Independence Day — which was directed by White House Down's director Roland Emmerich.
  • In Dracula 2000, Lucy stands in front of a row of Vitamin C CDs at her workplace, the Virgin Megastore. Lucy was played by Colleen Fitzpatrick, aka pop singer Vitamin C.
  • In Meet the Robinsons, Wilbur tries to cover up the real identity of his father Cornelius Robinson by telling Lewis that he looks like Tom Selleck. We later meet Cornelius near the end, and he's voiced by Tom Selleck. When the film was dubbed in other languages, Wilbur says that his father looks like whatever actor voices him in that version.
  • The 2013 dark comedy The Family has the main character (a former gangster played by Robert De Niro) watch the movie Goodfellas in which De Niro also had a starring role.
  • In Love Actually, the Harry Potter-films exist, but Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson and Bill Nighy all appear in the film. Who replaces them as Severus Snape, Sybil Trelawney and Rufus Scrimgeour is never touched on.
  • In the famous opening scene of Reservoir Dogs, where the robbers have a Seinfeldian Conversation about the true meaning behind Madonna's "Like a Virgin", nobody seems to notice that Madonna's former brother-in-law is sitting at the table sipping coffee; "Nice Guy Eddie" is played by Chris Penn, the younger brother of Madonna's ex-husband Sean Penn.
  • In The Goonies, some of the kids are watching a video on TV of Cyndi Lauper singing "The Goonies R Good Enough", meaning the song exists in the movie's universe. Although they are not seen (as what's shown on TV is not actually one of the music videos), the kids and producer Steven Spielberg are shown as characters in the music videos for this song.
  • Subverted in Birdman. Early on, mention is made of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but not the Hulk, who was briefly played by Edward Norton (who plays Mike Shiner in this film). But it gets complicated as Michael Keaton appears as the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. In addition, the fictional Birdman franchise seems to take the place of the 90s version of Batman, the first two of which starred Michael Keaton (Riggan Thomson), and served as the first wildly popular and successful superhero films.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier has a notebook where Cap is writing pop culture works to catch up on. One is Star Wars, which as Honest Trailers pointed out, could confuse him once he's seen the prequels given Mace Windu has some resemblance to Nick Fury. The prequel trilogy also features Natalie Portman (Jane Foster from the Thor movies) as Padme Amidala. The UK version also includes the BBC series Sherlock, whose star Benedict Cumberbatch would join the MCU as Doctor Strange, and whose costar Martin Freeman would appear in Captain America: Civil War.
  • In The Avengers (2012), Tony's reputation as a nicknamer leads him to tell Hawkeye, "Better clench up, Legolas" at one point. But Martin Freeman (Bilbo in The Hobbit films) appears in Captain America: Civil War as Everett Ross, Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug) plays Doctor Strange, and David Wenham (Faramir) appears in Iron Fist (2017) as Harold Meachum.
  • One of the most surreal aspects of Chappie is the way the members of South African rap group Die Antwoord, Ninja and Yo-landi Visser, play a pair of South African gangsters named Ninja and Yo-landi, who listen to the music of Die Antwoord. At the end of the film, Ninja is seen wearing a Die Antwoord shirt which names Yo-landi Visser as a member which is oddly poignant, considering this is after her character has died.
  • In the Elvis Presley movie G.I. Blues, Elvis' character is singing with a band in a bar when a guy goes to the jukebox, saying "I want to hear an original," and plays Elvis' version of "Blue Suede Shoes".
  • In Jean-Luc Godard's A Woman Is a Woman this trope is Invoked and Played for Laughs twice. Jean-Paul Belmondo's character excuses his late arrival by claiming he was watching Breathless. Later, he asks a character played by Jeanne Moreau how's it going with Jules and Jim, which deliciously has a comparable plot. Moreau then looks directly into the camera, grinning.
  • In the Hitman film, during 47's escape from the hotel, he bursts into a room where two guys are playing one of the Hitman games.
  • The Australian musical Starstruck, which had sets designed by Brian Thomson, shows teenage protagonist Jackie standing in her bedroom next to a pop art mural that prominently features the The Rocky Horror Picture Show RKO/swimming pool set, designed several years earlier and an ocean away by Brian Thomson. Another RHPS connection; Starstruck screenwriter Stephen MacLean has said that he wrote the film intending for his pal, RHPS's Little Nell, to play the lead — however, by the time the film was greenlit, she was a few years too old to pass for 18.
  • In Dinner at Eight one of the people going to the dinner grouses that he'd rather go see the new Greta Garbo movie. One wonders if that's Grand Hotel — and if so, how some of the characters from Dinner at Eight (Oliver Jordan, Larry Renault, Dan Packard) feel about having movie actors (Lionel Barrymore, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery) who look just like them.
  • X-Men Film Series:
  • Central Theme: The main threads throughout the story are families coming together, and that love is stronger and more powerful than fear, hate or anger.
  • In Near Dark, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the protagonist is seen passing in front of a movie theater screening James Cameron's Aliens. There was a point where Bigelow and Cameron were married in real life, making you wonder who married James Cameron in Near Dark's universe.
  • Smarty: In one of several discussions about how it's okay for men to smack women around, Tony mentions that he saw a movie where a man shoved a grapefruit in a woman's face, and it was no big deal. That's a reference to The Public Enemy, which co-starred Joan Blondell (Mae Clarke took the grapefruit to the face).
  • In The Player, a dark satire of the film industry, a notable number of recognizable actors appear in the film as themselves. Notably at the end (delivering the punch line to the movie's main Brick Joke) are Bruce Willis and Julia Roberts. No mention is made of the film's principal actors, notably Tim Robbins (who would later co-star with Julia Roberts in Prêt-à-Porter), Whoopi Goldberg (who had co-starred with Bruce Willis in an episode of Moonlighting) and Lyle Lovett (who for awhile was married to Julia Roberts in real life). Also making a cameo in this movie is Susan Sarandon, with whom Tim Robbins was romantically involved at the time.
  • In the flashback sequences of Man of Steel, Clark is shown as a kid, running around with a cape and standing in the classical Superman "hand on hips" pose. How did he know to do that, if he is supposed to grow up to become Superman?
  • In Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the Tank has a Fight Club t-shirt. John Smith is played by Brad Pitt, who was Tyler Durden in Fight Club.
  • One viral video for Independence Day: Resurgence plays with this trope. In it, Jeff Goldblum and David Levinson are put face-to-face, to prove once and for all that they’re not the same person.
  • Ready Player One is directed by Steven Spielberg; to avoid seeming too egotistical, he cut out several references to his own movies from the book, though others are left in.
  • Lazer Team, being made by Rooster Teeth, has background characters dressed up in Red vs. Blue and RWBY cosplay, RWBY stickers on Mindy's laptop, and the fact that two of the main characters are played by Team Nice Dynamite.
  • The plot of 7 Zwerge - Der Wald ist nicht genug centers around the seven dwarves searching for Rumplestilskin's name in order to save Snow White's baby. On their journey, they travel to the real world and end up in a fairy tale theme park, where they are mistaken for actors and encounter someone playing Rumplestilskin, doing his famous dance (which naturally gets interrupted before he says his name).

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/CelebrityParadox/Film