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Celebrity Paradox: Film
  • 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.
  • Atlas Shrugged Part One (the film) shows us that heroine Dagny Taggart has a photo of 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. Which is odd, since 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 Film Within A Film Jack Slater IV (starring Schwarzenegger), there is still a Terminator movie — but it stars Sylvester Stallone.
    • Which is itself a bit of a Historical In-Joke, since Stallone was one of the actors considered for the Terminator role.
    • Also there is a moment in the movie in which the eponymous hero and the actor meets, and Schwarzenegger points out how much they resemble each other and asks him if he wants to become his body double.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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 couldn't do the same implies that this is a case of One Shot Revisionism.
    • The original Ocean's 11, starring the Rat Pack, also played with this. 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.
  • 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.
    • In the film, he can only say he's "Roger Moore," since they were unable to get permission to use the name James Bond. The producers were able to use a Suspiciously Similar Song version of the Bond theme for the character.
    • This isn't the only film in which Roger Moore and the filmmakers play with this, but it's a spoiler to mention which one. In Curse of the Pink Panther, Moore and the James Bond films exist, so Inspector Clouseau gets Magic Plastic Surgery to look like Moore and hide from those trying to find him.
  • In Back to the Future, Huey Lewis makes a cameo appearance as an audition judge — and Marty has a Huey Lewis and the News poster on his bedroom wall. The Cafe '80s scene in 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.
    • Marty's band also plays a Huey Lewis song, "The Power of Love," as their audition, a song which Huey Lewis wrote and recorded specifically for the film and which is featured prominently in the soundtrack.
    • Even more of a mindscrew: Doc Brown shows up to a Huey Lewis live gig in the "Power of Love" music video, right as Huey is showing off a Back To The Future crew jacket that the band got as a gift for working on the movie.note 
    • Also, Marty hears the Huey Lewis song "Back in Time" on his clock radio. Though he only hears the chorus, the rest of the song's lyrics make references to Doc, Marty, 88 mph, and time travel.
    • Furthermore, in an episode of Back To The Future: The Animated Series, Marty sarcastically claims to be Michael J. Fox (who played Marty in the movie trilogy) — prompting Verne to comment that there is a similarity in appearance.
      • Another episode of the animated series has a brief shot of a movie theater marquee in Hill Valley that lists Back to the Future as a current attraction. Somehow or other, the movie exists in its own universe.
  • 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 (played by Brendan Fraser) 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!"
  • Boris and Natasha had the famous bad guy couple pretending to defect in the early Post-Cold War world, where they become instant celebrities. One scene has them fleeing a party just as the host says "But Sally Kellerman wanted to meet you!" Natasha is, of course, played by Kellerman.
  • 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.
  • In the novelization of the first Spider-Man, Mary Jane has seen Interview with the Vampire and was creeped out by the little girl who played Claudia. Both were played by Kirsten Dunst.
    • Also in Spider-Man, Aunt May tells Peter "You're not Superman, you know!", and Peter half-jokingly yells out "Shazam!" and "Up, up, and away!" when he's trying to figure out how to fire his web. This seems to imply that DC Comics exists in the movie's universe—which makes you wonder who their chief rival is, since there's no Marvel Comics.
    • It seems Marvel Comics exists here, too: Jameson's assistant mentions Doctor Strange in the 2nd film, and Jameson claims it's already taken. Though it may be possible that he refers to the actual Doctor Strange, not just a comic book character.
  • Pretty much averted in Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, where Ben Affleck plays the character of Holden McNeil, the same character as in the earlier Chasing Amy. The movie's central conflict is that a movie is being made about the eponymous characters and they aren't being paid for it, so they start discussing who's going to star in the movie. Ben Affleck's character comments that, because it's Miramax, it's probably going to be Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Later on, Affleck shows up again, as himself, shooting Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season with Damon.
    • It gets better when Jay and Holden talk about how they hate Good Will Hunting, which Affleck starred in and co-wrote and Smith produced, and Holden citing that Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms.
    • Come to think of it, before Affleck and Damon do their part in Hunting 2 Damon mentions that Affleck talked him into Dogma. Jay and Silent Bob were in Dogma, as main characters.
      • For the hat trick, at the very end, two characters leaving a theater say that the movie they saw was "Better than Mallrats," (which one of them was in) but that Chasing Amy, the movie the other one was in, would never work as a movie. This scene involves Joey Lauren Adams as Alyssa Jones, who in Chasing Amy mentioned having sex with Gwen Turner. Gwen Turner is the name of a character in Mallrats also played by Adams.
    • Even better is the DVD documentary where the writers talk about how for a while, they were actually considering having different actors play that universe's Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. They even considered the Wayans Brothers for it. Sadly, they chose in the end to just keep the originals.
    • Star Wars gets brought up in just about all of these films, and indeed, when Mark Hamill turns up in Strike Back, he's only playing himself. Carrie Fisher, on the other hand, appears in the same film as a nun.
    • Also, when carachters talk about American Pie (with Jason Biggs playing himself), Shannon Elisabeth, Who plays Justice in in jay and silent bob movie is called by (first) name, when her character from American Pie comes up.
  • The 2006 film of Casino Royale 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, 1/2 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 — of course, in the movieverse, the James Bond novels don't exist and so presumably nobody has ever heard of a Vesper martini.
  • Blazing Saddles includes a scene where Taggart says "I'm working for Mel Brooks!" (writer/director), who also appears in the movie, in two different roles. Other scenes also break the fourth wall, such as:
    • Hedley Lamarr, Sheriff Bart and the Waco Kid attending a premiere of 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 can't get enough of this trope. It shows up again and again, such as when characters look at a copy of a script to find out what will happen to them next, or most famously in Spaceballs when the villains take a break from the action to watch a videotape of Spaceballs to see what would happen after the scene they were currently appearing in - even though the video hadn't even been released in Real Life yet because the theatrical release was still being made!
      • Not only that, but they use the movie find where the heroes are by rewinding the videotape!
      • They also fast-forward through the Ludicrous Speed segment, which is kind of a Mind Screw quickie, which Dark Helmet asks never to be shown again.
  • 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.
    • Scream 2 took it further with the (fictional) film Stab, which was based on the events of Scream, scenes from Stab having Heather Graham and Luke Wilson playing the characters played by Drew Barrymore and Skeet Ulrich. Courtney Cox's character also mentions David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston (who co-starred with her on Friends).
    • In Scream, Neve Campbell's character Sidney jokes that if they did make a movie of the Woodsboro murders, Tori Spelling would probably play her. In Scream 2 her story is being made into a movie called Stab, where "Sidney" is indeed being played by Tori Spelling.
    • In Scream, a VHS copy of the movie Clerks can be seen in the party scene at the end of the movie. Later in Scream 3, Clerks characters Jay and Silent Bob appear as in-universe characters who take a tour of the movie studio and run into Gale Weathers. To top it off, Scream director Wes Craven appears in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back as the director of a fictional version of Scream 4 that has nothing to do with the real Scream 4 that was made years later.
  • Like most rapper-actors, Method Man can most often be found portraying gang members and fictional rappers in his numerous television/film roles. 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.
    • Even more confusingly, RZA has a role as a detective in American Gangster. At one point, the Wu-Tang tattoo on his arm is clearly visible. Note that the film takes place in the 1970s.
    • Considering how fond the Wu are of 1970s kung-fu movies, this could almost be handwaved away, but no dice...Shaolin & Wu-Tang, the film the group is named after, was released in 1981.
      • Though the 1981 film's title comes from the opposing philosophies of wudang ("internal," after the eponymous Chinese mountain range) and shaolin ("external") kung-fu disciplines.
  • 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.
  • Voodoo Man starring Bela Lugosi, features at the end a reporter laying out the events that have transpired, suggesting that it could be made into a movie with Bela Lugosi.
  • Dance Flick made by the Wayans Brothers features a scene were the acting coach explains how the only roles for black actors in Hollywood go to the Wayans Brothers.
  • Hook handles this quite nicely. J.M. Barrie's play Peter Pan does exist, as do all of its adaptations like the Disney film. It was based on a true story that Wendy told him. Hence, everyone knows about Peter Pan but thinks he's a fictional character, including Peter himself after he grows up, so he's understandably reluctant to believe it when he finds out.
  • Subverted in Airplane!, in which Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, played the co-pilot. A child is brought up to the cockpit, recognizes Kareem, and begins making disparaging comments about his basketball skills; the co-pilot at first denies that he is Kareem, but eventually defends himself.
    • Because the film they were specifically spoofing, Zero Hour, featured football star Elroy 'Crazylegs' Hirsch as the pilot, ZAZ wrote a part for a sports star. They originally wanted Pete Rose, but since they shot the movie during baseball season, they had to make a casting change.
    • A bit of a sly nod to that particular scene occurred in MTV's first Rock and Jock Basketball game, in which the show opens with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (coach of one of the teams) being approached by a fan who mistakes him for Roger Murdoch, famous airline pilot. The scene plays out almost identically, except with roles reversed.
    • Furthermore, when the co-pilot is removed after falling ill, he is clearly wearing goggles and a Lakers uniform, as if he was ready to hit the court the second the scene wrapped.
    • Another case was when Ted was in the hospital. One of the patients thinks he's Ethel Merman. Guess who plays him.
  • Godzilla:
  • In Gremlins 2: The New Batch this was done several times — the Gremlins attack movie critic Leonard Maltin, who is giving a negative review of the first movie. In a later scene, the Gremlins appear to take over the cinema's movie projector room, using it to make shadow puppets and then show old black-and-white "naturist" movies. They are only stopped when an usher gets Hulk Hogan, who is in the audience at the time, to threaten to introduce the Gremlins to "The Hulkster." In the video release, the gremlins instead wander into a John Wayne movie, but then he shoots them all.
  • 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 And 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.
  • At the end of the Clint Eastwood movie 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."
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was played largely as a Fish Out of Temporal Water comedy in which the Enterprise crew goes back to The Present Day (1986). You have to wonder why they never meet anyone who has heard of Star Trek.
    • It makes you wonder even more, because this was after we were shown a wall of pictures of the previous vessels called "Enterprise" in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in which the NASA Space Shuttle Orbiter appears. The orbiter only got the name Enterprise because of Star Trek.
      • However, Enterprise was also the name of several very successful and famous US Naval Vessels, so it's not ridiculous to think that a space vessel would get the same name.
      • In the Star Trek universe, the Federation flagship was named after one of the most famous historical space vehicles, the prototype space shuttle. Which makes just as much sense as the way it happened in the real world!
    • The same could be asked of the Star Trek: Voyager two-parter "Future's End" where the crew of Voyager find themselves in the mid-90s (especially confusing at they appear at a time where the Eugenics War should be raging, but this apparently has had no effect on the people of California).
      • A few later Trek novels indicated that the Eugenics Wars was all the late twentieth-century conflicts. The real purpose of those wars was not quite obvious.
  • In the 2009 film Star Trek, a very young Alternate Universe James Kirk listens to "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys. In Real Life, other Beastie Boys songs, written long before the film, make reference to the Star Trek universe; for example, "Intergalactic": Your knees'll start shaking and your fingers pop / Like a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock. Presumably the "alternate Beastie Boys" lacked such inspiration.
  • 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 in 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. The solution was to write out Louie (and thus the real DeVito) from the Taxi-related scenes (though, in an early script draft, there was going to be an aside referencing the character and thus the paradox as an in-joke). 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.
    • Tony Clifton's character on Taxi was supposed to be Louie's brother.
    • DeVito's characters in the movie and Taxi were visually and dramatically distinct enough that he arguably could have still appeared as himself/Louie. The mustache alone is all the license you need.
  • All the remakes of Miracle on 34th Street (there are no less than four of them, five if you count the Broadway musical) are presumably set in a world where the 1947 classic doesn't exist.
  • The first scene of Tango and Cash has Tango reply to a uniformed officer's claim that Tango "thinks he's Rambo" with "Rambo is a pussy." Guess who plays 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), who is struggling to adapt Susan Orlean's book The Orchid Thief to film (a real book and author; Orlean is played by Streep). Kaufman even visits the set of the previous film he wrote, Being John Malkovich.
    • And then you realize that the screenplay being written by the film's Charlie Kaufman is the screenplay for the actual film you are watching.
  • Used to effect in Fight Club: There's a scene where Edward Norton and Helena Bonham-Carter are talking outside a movie theatre, after Norton has discovered that Brad Pitt's character is his split personality. The movie playing is Seven Years in Tibet, a subtle reminder that Pitt's character is invisibly present in this scene.
    • Not just that, but in a movie with Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf and Jared Leto, one of Tyler's speeches mentions none of those present will become "millionaires and movie gods and rock stars".
  • In the 2007 St Trinians, 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 titular 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". Which happens to be the title of the 1984 film in which they played roommates.
  • In the world of the Batman films....
    • It can be funny when you think about how Bruce Wayne himself is a world-renowned personality. How often does Bruce Wayne get told he looks like Adam West/Michael Keaton/Val Kilmer/George Clooney/Christian Bale and vice-versa with the actor?
    • Played with in Batman. The goofy cartoon of a bat in a suit that's handed to Knox as a joke early in the film is signed by Bob Kane.
    • Also flirted with in Batman Forever when Robin blurts out, "Holey rusted metal, Batman!"
    • There was going to be a brief sight gag in the opening sequence of Batman Returns where we think we're seeing the front of Batman's costume, but it's actually a sled with a Batman logo on it being sold to shoppers in Gotham City for the Christmas season - indicating that Batman has become a cultural icon even in his own universe. (The sled does make it into the final film, but it doesn't have a "Bat" emblem on it.) And in the 1989 film, there originally was going to be a quick scene near the end of kids dressing in homemade Batman costumes.
  • 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.
  • Bill Murray cameos as himself in Zombieland. He doesn't seem to notice how much Tallahassee looks like the guy he starred with in Kingpin.
    • Also, a poster for 2012, in which Harrelson starred, can be seen as the characters drive through LA.
  • Some of the later Rocky movies make reference to objects that were made in homage of the original movie (Rocky pinball, the statue, etc). The idea is that in the sequels, these things are actually in homage to Rocky himself.
    • The statue doesn't count. Stallone commissioned them and then had it put on the steps explicitly for filming. It was moved later. The pinball machine, on the other hand, does qualify.
  • Similar to the Rocky example above, there is a scene in D3: The Mighty Ducks where team captain Charlie refers to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, a real-life professional hockey team named in honor of the original Mighty Ducks movie. According to Charlie, the pro team was named after Charlie's own Ducks. This would be hard to swallow, except that they did win the under-18 world championship in D2 (unbelievable in itself, but more or less justifying this).
  • 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.
  • That also happens in Rosemarys 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.
  • In a scene in Demolition Man, which takes place in the year 2032, Wesley Snipes' character, Simon Phoenix, says, "Excuse me, Rambo. I need to borrow this." Rambo was played by Snipes' co-star, Sylvester Stallone.
    • In the same movie, we learn that a man named 'Schwarzenegger' was president while Stallone's character was in hibernation. This is apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger the actor, as Stallone's character is genuinely surprised and has the exact circumstances under which this was possible explained to him.note  A Take That directed at the Stallone reference in Last Action Hero mentioned above (Stallone and Schwarzenegger had a friendly rivalry during this period). Presumably Schwarzenegger remains an action movie star in movies in the Stallone universe, and vice versa. The jury is still out on movies in which the two men appear together.
      • This also qualifies as Hilarious in Hindsight as it was long before the Governator, and most people would have thought the very idea of him going into politics quite absurd.
  • 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 movie Austin Powers in Goldmember, the story is adapted into a film by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise as Austin, Kevin Spacey as Dr Evil, Danny DeVito as Mini-Me, and John Travolta as Goldmember.
  • 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. Rarely is his character mentioned by name in said films. In Rise of the Silver Surfer, he exclaims, "I'm STAN LEE!" while trying to get into the Richards/Storm wedding.
    • Which contradicts his appearance as Willie Lumpkin, the Fantastic Four's mailman in the Baxter Building.
      • Unless that scene was meant to imply that Willie Lumpkin was unsuccessfully trying to pass as Stan Lee.
      • Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were both turned away from the comics' version of the wedding, so the scene probably is an homage to that as well.
  • This is done in the first two live-action, Michael Bay-directed Transformers films. In the first one, Armageddon is mentioned, which was also directed by Bay. Toys such as "Furby" and "My Little Pony" appear, which are manufactured by Hasbro, makers of the Transformers toys. In the second film, Sam draws on the walls of a dorm while in a trance. The first poster he scrawls on is that for Bad Boys II, also directed by Bay.
    • In the third one, Wheelie is watching an episode of the orginal Star Trek, "Oh yeah I've seen this one, it's the one where Spock goes nuts." Sentinel Prime appear later in the film, voiced by , you guessed it, Leonard Nimoy. On the other hand, since Sentinel is the villain of the film, this can be excused as clever foreshadowing.
    • 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's a Long Story), a billboard for Superman Returns, on which Marsden appears, can be seen behind him.
    • As well as a billboards for Wicked and Rent, which stars 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) mentioned The Shawshank Redemption in one scene. Note the fact that Bon Gunton is featured in both of these movies as different characters.
  • Fanboys is probably the most gleeful celebration of this trope, featuring appearances by various Star Wars actors, Carrie Fisher as a doctor, Billy Dee Williams as Judge Reinhold, and Ray Park as a security guard. By having Star Wars actors appear as different characters in their cameos, it rips a hole in the space-time continuum and is all the more fun for it.
  • Stay Tuned starring John Ritter playing a tv-loving house-husband. He is mentally tortured by being shoved into the Three's Company tv set. The two ladies wonder where he has been.
  • 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. To be fair, he wasn't the only Black Flag singer, just the most well-known one, so it's kind of plausible that maybe Black Flag exists in the world of the film but Henry Rollins doesn't.
  • Averted in a Polish movie named 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. It's bizarre.
  • 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 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.
  • The character of Ronald Wilkes in Cedar Rapids notes his fanship of "the HBO program, The Wire." Wilkes' actor, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., played State Senator Clay Davis on that show.
  • An interesting version arises when you note that The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles take place in the same universe—indeed, the same school—and both prominently star Molly Ringwald as two completely different characters. One wonders how two girls who look exactly the same could run in completely different social circles and never be mistaken for each other.
  • This gets zig-zagged in The Smurfs. Patrick has never heard of the Smurfs when he meets them, but a little research shows that Peyo did exist, although in this universe he claims Smurfs were mythical creatures rather than his own inventions. They even find a book of Peyo comics, which turns out to be important to the plot.
  • 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's real-life great-grandson.
  • Jurassic Park is what made Velociraptor a well-known stock dinosaur. It doesn't seem like people in the Jurassic Park universe should be as familiar with it as we are.
    • Averted. The Jurassic Park universe has managed to clone Velociraptor and several other dinosaurs. In the process they've probably become much more familiar with these dinosaurs than we are. It still isn't enough to avert what happens, though.
    • Played straight in the second movie, where a character doesn't recognize the name Velociraptor (true, he wasn't the most...educated character in the movie). Seemingly averted in the third, where during a talk, everyone in the audience seems well acquainted with raptors, possibly due to the very public events of the previous movies.
  • 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. When he appears before the family involved, they all call him "Sanjay Dutt". Yamraj then complains that people keep calling him various names (listing the names of characters played by Sanjay Dutt), and tells them to tell Sanjay Dutt that he looks like Yamraj. Later, Sanjay Dutt does a cameo where he is at first mistaken for Yamraj.
  • Deliberately invoked with Jello Biafra's cameo in Tapeheads. He plays an FBI agent arresting the main characters on obscenity charges, an ironic Casting Gag given a famous obscenity trial involving the artwork to the Dead Kennedys' Frankenchrist. ...And 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, but nevermind), 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 a bit. While characters recognize Malkovich (who is playing himself) they can't seem to correctly identify what movies he was in.
  • S1m0ne mentions and includes video clips and pictures of numerous real-life actresses, models and singers, but apparently Al Pacino, Rebecca Romijn, and Winona Ryder never hit it big in this universe. Winona Ryder actually plays an actress, Nicola Anders, who is as big as Ryder ever was in real life.
    • Taransky 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.
    • Also, "Amalgamated Film Studios'' is clearly Paramount studios, as can be gathered from the backlot, the fountain and main gates and the large outdoor tank - this implies that Paramount Pictures does not exist, or at least does not occupy the studio lot it does in real life.
  • 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 UFC (and former UFC) fighters appear as fictional characters.
  • In the 2012 film The Dilemma, the characters reference Kurt Russell's speech in Miracle. The Dilemma was directed by Ron Howard, who also directed Kurt Russell in Backdraft.
  • At the very end of Doc Hollywood when the Bridget Fonda and Woody Harrelson characters have moved to Hollywood, she spots someone and asks, "Is that a star?" and he replies, "No, that's Ted Danson." Of course, at the time, Woody was starring alongside Danson in the sitcom Cheers but apparently not in this universe.
  • In The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, as Karen is being arrested (thanks to Boris and Natasha), Rocky objects to the officer saying she's an FBI agent, to which the officer replies "Yeah, and I'm John Goodman". Guess who he's played by.
  • Something of a Mind Screw with the films Independence Day and The X-Files: Fight the Future. In Independence Day a cable TV employee can be heard taking a customer's complaint that their shows have gone haywire and saying "Yes, I love X-Files too." In Fight the Future, Mulder urinates right next to a promo poster for, you guessed it, Independence Day.
  • 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).
  • A rather interesting case in the K-Horror film White: The Melody of the Curse. The film features K-Pop group After School, playing a supporting role as a K-Pop group called "Pure." The kicker is that the film opens with them performing "Bang," a song that is actually sung by After School in Real Life. The song in the film is more or less the same, with clever editing used to remove any parts that namedrop After School in the lyrics.
  • Seed of Chucky is all about this, as Chucky and Tiffany get revived in 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 and ultimately succeeds.
  • 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 Sellick. We later meet Cornelius near the end, and he's voiced by Tom Sellick.
  • 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.

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