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Actor-Shared Background
When a character on a TV show shares a detail of their heritage, upbringing, and backstory with the actor playing them.

When this material and information is written to be a vital part of the character and story, it runs into Meta Casting.

When this goes from a minor detail to the focus of the story, it can be an example of Real Life Writes the Plot.

A subtrope of Actor Allusion. Compare The Danza, where the character and the actor share a name.


Examples:

  • A very common trope in Professional Wrestling, where a wrestler's background will be used to create a gimmick for that wrestler. One famous example is Ray Traylor's background as a prison guard at a Georgia prison, which was used to create his character the Big Bossman.
  • Community:
    • Abed is half-Polish, as is his actor, Danny Pudi.note 
    • As did Joel McHale, Jeff grew up in Seattle.
    • Some of the characters share the same religion as their actors.
      • After Annie's Informed Judaism in "Comparative Religion", some people were under the impression that they were just assigning religions arbitrarily to satisfy the study group's Five-Token Band status. However, in reality, Alison Brie got her start playing at the Southern California Jewish Community Center.note 
      • Likewise, Donald Glover was raised Jehovah's Witness.
      • Yvette Nicole Brown is a committed Christian, but is probably less abrasive about it than Shirley often is.
      • It is probably safe to assume, however, that Chevy Chase does not belong to a cult that seems to be a bizarre combination of Scientology, Buddhism, and Instrumentality.
  • LOST:
    • Doctor Pierre Chang shares the same French-first-name Chinese-last-name formula as his actor, François Chau.
    • Jack Shepard went to Columbia University, as did Matthew Fox.
  • Glee:
    • Similar to the LOST example, we have Tina Cohen-Chang (Chinese/Jewish), played by Jenna Ushkowitz.
    • You can briefly see Kurt Hummel's birthday when he fills out a college application. It's the same month and date as Chris Colfer's, though Kurt is three years younger.
    • In "Blame it on the Alcohol", Rachel expresses her desire to have Blaine's "vaguely Eurasian-looking children"—Blaine's actor, Darren Criss, has a Filipino mother and an Irish father.
    • In Season 4, cheerleader Kitty is played Becca Tobin, who cheered for her middle school.
  • Max Klinger from Mash was from Toledo Ohio, as was his actor, Jamie Farr, who also served in Korea (Klinger's dogtags were Farr's own). And yes, the Mud Hens are a real team, and Tony Packo's is a real restaurant (though it has fallen on hard times).
  • In Full House, John Stamos' character's name changed from Jesse Cochran (generic) to Jesse Katsopolis (Greek) after the first season. His family when they come to visit is also very Greek.
  • In Scotland, PA, Lt. McDuff (played by Christopher Walken) mentions offhand that he used to be a professional dancer.
  • Number Six in The Prisoner gives his exact date and time of birth — one of the only times in the series he volunteers any information. The date and time in question in fact belonged to Patrick McGoohan.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Catherine Sutherland, Amy Jo Johnson's replacement, played Katherine Hillard, also an Aussie (who doesn't know martial arts at first).
  • In Power Rangers S.P.D., Matt Austin played Bridge Carson, who was also Jewish.
  • On Chuck, Vik Sahay (born in Ontario)'s character Lester is revealed to have come from Saskatchewan.
  • How I Met Your Mother':
  • Many of Adam Sandler's characters in his films are Jewish, as is Sandler himself.
  • Vince Vaughn's characters in The Break-Up, Couples Retreat and The Dilemma live in Chicago, as does Vaughn.
  • On The Vampire Diaries, Katerina Petrova is Bulgarian and so is Nina Dobrev, the actress who plays her.
  • At least two of Richard Dean Anderson's characters: MacGyver and Stargate's Jack O'Neill are both from Minnesota, same as Anderson.
  • From Star Trek, Leonard "Bones" McCoy is from Toccoa, Georgia... just like actor DeForest Kelley.
    • Pavel Chekov is from Russia. His actor, Walter Koenig, based Chekov's dubious Russian accent on his father's, who was a Russian Jew.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Geordi La Forge is a Military Brat and has an ambiguously French name like his actor LeVar Burton (the name bit, however, is more of a fun coincidence, as the character was named after a fan of the original series and LeVar is a contraction of the actor's birth name).
    • Why did Commander William Riker suddenly start playing the trombone a few seasons in? Because actor Jonathan Frakes mentioned to Gene Roddenberry that he was a jazz trombonist.
  • On Criminal Minds, Dr. Spencer Reid hails from Las Vegas and performs magic tricks as a hobby, just like the actor portraying him, Matthew Gray Gubler.
  • Iron Man actor Robert Downey, Jr. has some slight similarities to Tony Stark's life: a history of partying and drug-use... while also being one of the finest in his craft when he gets his act together.
    • Similarly, remove the "partying" part of that and he's a bit similar to Sherlock Holmes as well.
  • Part of a Lampshade Hanging in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. The (English) Cary Elwes points out that "Unlike some Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent!", a Take That to the American Kevin Costner's performance as the title character in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
  • Done backwards in the case of James Bond. Bond's Scottish ancestry was added into his history by Ian Fleming because of Sean Connery's portrayal of him.
  • Parminder Nagra's real-life leg scar (and how she got it) was added to the script of Bend It Like Beckham.
  • When Cordelia fell into a pit and was impaled by a rebar in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she was just following in the footsteps (or was that footfalls?) of the actress who portrayed her-Charisma Carpenter had something very similar happen to her when she was young.
  • Most of the characters in Neon Genesis Evangelion have the same birthday as their original Japanese voice actor.
  • Most of Fran Fine's backstory on The Nanny is identical to star Fran Drescher's own life. Lived in Queens, graduated from Hillcrest High (with Ray Romano/Ray Barone), parents named Sylvia and Morty, sister named Nadine, the list goes on and on.
  • Happily Divorced focuses on the main character, like her actress, Fran Drescher, getting divorced after her husband reveals his homosexuality. The two remain close friends and Fran's ex-husband is one of the producers for the show.
  • CSI: NY:
    • Gary Sinise and Mac Taylor are both originally from Chicago, Illinois. Sinise's partial Irish heritage was also incorporated particularly with Mac's middle name, though it isn't the same as the actor's.
    • Melina Kanakaredes and her Greek character Stella both speak the language fluently (Melina is the child of Greek immigrants).
    • Carmine Giovinazzo's past of aspiring to a professional baseball career and then being sidelined by an arm injury was incorporated into Danny Messer's backstory. Rather naturally, the actor's Italian ethnicity was also incorporated.
    • Vanessa Ferlito is originally from New York, like her character Aiden Burn.
  • Lt Horatio Caine hails from Forest Hills, Queens NY. So does actor David Caruso.
  • In Relic Hunter, Sydney Fox was born in Hawaii, just like her actress Tia Carrere.
  • In McHale's Navy, Ernest Borgnine wore a hat badge that always seemed smaller than any of his costars'. This is because everyone else was using badges that came from the central costuming department and that were then-current (1960s) US Navy issue that were inaccurately large for the World War II period. Borgnine's badge was his own personal property, kept by him from his active-duty days in the Navy, which began before Pearl Harbor—and he had already been discharged and reenlisted because of the attack, much like McHale.
  • Friends is all over this trope, with all the actors incorporating huge aspects of themselves into their characters. Monica was originally designed as rather cold and cynical but Courteney Cox turned her into the Team Mom to the in-universe gang that she was to the real life cast. Matthew Perry influenced a lot of Chandler's neuroses: Having divorced parents, being terrible with women (Chandler was gay before he was cast) and using humour as defence mechanism, which Perry comments was the first thing he and the producers discussed. Leblanc made Joey more a big brother figure to the gang, like his real life relationship with the three girls, and Schwimmer and Ross were both Jewish.
    • In one interview the cast are asked 'Who is The Most...' questions about each other. It's really hard to tell if they're talking about the actors or characters. Perry/Chandler is the funniest, Cox/Monica gives the best advice, Aniston/Rachel cry the most, Leblanc/Joey would defend you in a fight, Kudrow/Phoebe is the quirkiest, Schwimmer/Ross is the most serious....
  • Cece from Shake It Up, like Bella Thorne, is dyslexic.
  • Al Jolson who played the Russian-born Jewish jazz singer and Black Face performer, Jakie, in the first The Jazz Singer film. Unique in that the original short story ("The Day of Atonement") and play were loosely based on Jolson's life. Al Jolson played the part because the original Broadway performer was unavailable for filming.
  • Gargoyles: Eliza Maza was originally going to be Hispanic, but her race and ethnicity were changed to half-African, half-Native American after Salli Richardson was cast in the role.
  • An episode of Static Shock featured a villain named Replay, who was a former child star that had trouble getting work after his sitcom was cancelled. They got real-life former child star Neil Patrick Harris (who hadn't yet had his big comeback role with How I Met Your Mother) to voice the character.
  • A musical example. Tom Waits' song "Eyeball Kid", from the perspective of a freak show carnival barker showing off the kid, mentions the kid's birthday being "the seventh of December, 1949". This is, of course, Tom Waits' own birthday.
  • Like his character Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons is a native Texan.
    • Additionally, Mayim Bialik holds a Ph.D in neuroscience, and her character, Amy Farrah Fowler, is a neurobiologist.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Dennis Weaver voices Buck McCoy, a former Western star who had a detective show in the '70s. Dennis Weaver himself, of course, was a former Western star who had a detective show in the '70s.
  • Harry Anderson shared many similarities with his character "Harry the Hat" from Cheers, all of which were written into the character before Anderson auditioned: named Harry, never seen without his Cool Hat, does magic, small time con artist (which Anderson wasn't, but had an onstage persona who was).
  • Scott McCall on Teen Wolf is part Mexican, according to Word of God—just like the actor who plays him, Tyler Posey.
  • The backstory given to Dolph Lundgren's character in The Expendables 2 holds pretty much all true to the actor: he studied chemical engineering, moved to the States with a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT, and started working as a bouncer which led him towards a completely different career.
  • Why does Tsubasa Kazenari from Senki Zesshou Symphogear sing enka (Japanese folks music) when she goes to karaoke with Hibiki and Miku in episode 9? Must be because Nana Mizuki spent most of her childhoodnote  being trained to sing enka and participating in enka singing contests and jobs before she finally debuted as a seiyuu/singer in 3rd year high school. Normally, young people don't sing enka when they casually hang out with friends...
  • Many anime characters with Kansai dialect are usually voiced by people from the Kansai region.
  • Beauty and the Beast (2012) has Catherine's mother shown to be East Asian in the pilot, just like Kristen Kreuk's. Nicole Gale Anderson, who plays her sister Heather, also has an East Asian mother.
  • In one episode of Law & Order, Lenny Brisco mentioned that his father was Jewish and his mother was Catholic, while he was Raised Catholic himself, the same as Jerry Orbach's real family background.
  • I Love Lucy's Lucy Ricardo grew up in Celoron, NY, like Lucille Ball did.
  • Anna Paquin's character Amy in Fly Away Home is a New Zealander born in Canada who moved away when she was a young child, just like Paquin herself. Paquin, however, did not move back to Canada when she was a teenager, unlike Amy.
  • In American Psycho, Elizabeth went to Sarah Lawrence College, as did the actress who played her, Guinevere Turner.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Day of the Doctor", a far future incarnation of the Doctor (played by former Doctor Tom Baker) is revealed to be working as a museum curator. This was an actual job of Tom Baker for a while during his stint in the army.
  • Sarah Shahi has portrayed two different characters who, like herself, are revealed to be half Iranian: Sameen Shaw in Person of Interest, and Detective Dani Reese in Life.
  • JAG: Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie is partially of Iranian heritage and speaks Farsi, as is and does actress Catherine Bell too.
  • A lot of Seth Rogen 's characters are Jewish, and a couple of them such as Ben and Kyle are from Vancouver.
  • Law & Order: UK: DS Matt Devlin mentions his Irish heritage while trying to gain the trust of a young prostitute he's questioning. Indeed, although Jamie Bamber was born in London, he has Irish ancestry and citizenship, as his mother is Irish.

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