Some actors get... reputations that just won't go away. Maybe they're famous for being divas on the set. Maybe they're famous for only playing certain roles — or even worse, only playing one role. Nobody will let them forget it. They can struggle mightily to earn a new reputation as decent people who can play a variety of roles.
Or they can resign themselves to their fate, and make a career out of it by Adam Westing.
Adam Westing is a form of Self-Parody where actors play either themselves, or a Captain Ersatz of themselves, or a Captain Ersatz of their most famous role... and they play it as a total Jerkass, a total idiot, or both. More rarely, they play the character as the exact opposite of what they're most famous for, but still a Jerkass and an idiot.
While this can be an Affectionate Parody, it can also be a way for the actor to vent their spleen against a part that got old fast and/or ruined their career, until it amounts to a Take That against themselves. Particularly bitter actors will make The Parody a Deconstruction of their old part, explaining how it was a horrible role and nobody should watch it. Like all Deconstruction, this can come full circle, with the actor doing a ReconstructionSelf-Parody. Sure, the role was stupid, but they enjoyed it.
Compare closely to the use of Meta Casting, where this can be turned around and made impressionable by playing off this personality.
Adam Westing is most often found among actors who have had certain forms of Type Casting:
Actors who had to act goofy all the time and never got a chance for serious work. If they must be goofy, let it be in mocking goofiness.
Actors known for an incredibly hammy or badass persona, and people expect them to play the same over-the-top role in everything.
Actors who had been subjected to Contractual Purity, who couldn't so much as have a glass of wine in public and need to cut loose.
See also The Danza, where the character's name is clearly taken from the actor/actress portraying him/her. See also Parody Assistance, when the actor works on a parody of whatever show/film/etc. made them famous. Very closely related to Playing With Character Type, which is when a typecast actor takes on a role superficially similar to their "type" in order to subvert, deconstruct or otherwise play with it.
Compare to Self-Deprecation.
In Batman The Animated Series' "Beware the Gray Ghost", he plays a washed-up actor who can't get any decent work because everyone associates him with his role as a cheesy superhero. Turns out that Bats is a huge Grey Ghost fanboy and it inspired his motifs. Incidentally, this portrayal was much more sympathetic and slightly less funny than normal simply because it was the show's way of saying "if that cheesy superhero show didn't exist, this show wouldn't exist." A bit of a Crowning Moment Of Heartwarming, to say the least.
Supposedly, when he was done with the episode and all of The Gray Ghost's memorabilia is returned, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm handed Adam (instead of scale wage) a $25,000 check and the original Batman costume — which Paul bought for an "undisclosed sum" at an auction. Crowning Moment Of Heartwarming, indeed.
He played a washed-up superhero who turned out to be a deluded actor on Kim Possible. His character was even named "Timothy North".
This character was also a parody of the older Bruce Wayne from Batman Beyond, making it a meta-Casting Gag (Will Friedle/Ron Stoppable previously played the new Batman on the show).
He played another deluded actor in the pilot for Lookwell, a show produced by Conan O Brien and Robert Smigel. In this version, he had formerly played a detective on TV and thought he could use his actor training as Genre Savvy to solve real crimes.
During one of the Thanksgiving Turkey Day Marathons of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which not coincidentally debuted the lampooning of his film Zombie Nightmare, he hosted a number of host segments loaded with bad turkey puns and Cloudcuckoolander moments. The episode itself features countless "I'm Batman!" jokes from Mike and the Bots, but no appearance from West (outside the movie of course).
He played a goofy rendition of himself on The Simpsons, in which he drives the Batmobile from the show (which is now a broken down wreck), complains about the Michael Keaton Batman films (Taps his pecs- "Pure. West."), and dances the "Batusi" while the Simpsons slowly back away ("How come Batman doesn't dance any more?"). Another episode has the Simpsons view the TV series Batmobile in a Hollywood museum and comment on how lifelike the dummies sitting in it are — who turn out to actually be Adam West and Burt Ward sitting perfectly still all day.
In the Histeria episode "The Legion of Super Writers", he voiced a superhero-portrayed Ernest Hemingway.
He did a guest spot on The Critic, as a last-minute guest on Jay Sherman's show. He's quickly bumped off because they managed to book someone else that it turns out is dead, prompting him to lament, "Man I wish I had his agent."
Made doubly funny in the DVD commentaries when the writers mention how Jon Lovitz pulled a What the Hell, Hero? on the writers for making fun of Mr. West.
Interestingly enough, McFarlane has stated that he's gone out of his way to ensure that West's history as Batman is never addressed. The inspiration for the character was West's aforementioned appearance on Johnny Bravo. (An episode McFarlane co-wrote.) He's simply playing a psychotic version of himself who was inexplicably elected mayor of Quahog.
Seth has gone so far as to claim that the character was never (originally) intended to be the Adam West — just a guy who shares his name. Then the actual Adam West came in to read for the part and the rest, as they say, is history.
West played superhero the Galloping Gazelle in the TV episode and video game of Goosebumps story Attack of the Mutant. In the TV version, the Galloping Gazelle was washed-up and bailed on the kid protagonist because he thought he was too old for the job.
West starred as an aging TV Space Commando personality Captain Blasto in an episode of Rugrats.
West played a lawyer defending R. Kelly who made a video of himself whizzing on a schoolgirl in The Boondocks. In typical over-the-top West fashion, of course. It's like he doesn't even want to stop Adam Westing anymore.
West appears in 30 Rock as the celebrity guest at Jack Donaghy's birthday party. After he flubs the introduction and gets thrown out, he complains that he was promised a meal.
In Drop Dead Gorgeous, he plays the lowest-possible-budget "celebrity" on the video promoting a beauty pageant, complete with words to the effect of "You might even get to meet a... CELEBRITY!" Perfect for the role, too.
In one episode of Diagnosis: Murder, he cameos as a washed-up actor who was made famous by playing half of a crime-fighting duo, Tuttle and the Mummy.
In a 1995 episode of Hope and Gloria - a short-lived television series, he played himself doing a theatre performance of Love Letters with former Batman villainess Julie Newmar also playing herself. The main character was led to believe he was her father. The program referenced his autobiography and his real name of Bill Anderson.
On Newsradio, he appeared as himself and was revealed to be legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper.
On King of Queens he plays himself in an episode where Spence asks him to come with him to a comic book convention. In doing so, he ditches his original choice, Doug's neighbor Lou Ferrigno (TV's Hulk). On the drive to the convention an irked West explains that Sci-fi actors "look out for each other" and leaves Spence on a busy freeway.
This one is also an interesting inversion, because while Mermaid Man as he usually appears in the show is an aging washed-up superhero, this is not the Mermaid Man that Adam West voices
A commercial had West going on about his heroic exploits, only to be wheeled off by a nurse: "Time for your medication, Mr West..."
Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, starring Adam West and Burt Ward as themselves but with their Batman and Robin personalities, where they try to figure out who stole the Batmobile, recalling various moments of their time filming the Batman television series along the way!
A notable (though minor) exception was his role as the villain Breathtaker in the movie and TV series Black Scorpion.
Mad Magazine's parody of "Batman: The Animated Series" ends with Adam rubbing out Batman and Calvin as Robin, along with other characters, so he can finally get a decent job.
Almost every other role William Shatner has had since Star Trek is him playing William Shatner the egotist, or an expy of that character under a different name. He specifically avoids the I Am Not Spock effect, by virtue of creating a "SHATNER" persona, of which Kirk is but one mere part. One must wonder, however, if it has reached the level of enlightened self-parody or if he has become genuinely unhinged (MAD once put it that he is trying, thirty years too late, to prove to everyone that he was always "in on the joke") — see his appearance on Friday Night with Jonathon Ross.
Kirk: I can't believe I kissed you! Martia [as Kirk]: Must have been your lifelong ambition.
Shatner plays as a possum in Over the Hedge, who gives an overly emphasized "death speech" while playing dead. Can be seen as a parody of his entire comedy routine style.
Also, Jeff Burk wrote and published a very short literary work called Shatnerquake- "It's the first ShatnerCon with William Shatner as the guest of honor! But after a failed terrorist attack by Campbellians, a crazy terrorist cult that worships Bruce Campbell, all of the characters ever played by William Shatner are suddenly sucked into our world. Their mission: hunt down and destroy the real William Shatner."
During Comedy Central's Roast of William Shatner, when it was his turn at the podium, he donned his Shatner persona and jokingly berated everyone for making fun of him. He stated, "Do you know who I am? I'm William Tiberius Shatner!", and then begins to name some of his accomplishments, most of them actually being Captain Kirk's.
There's a fair bit of Westing in the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", made all the more hilarious by the existence of Zapp Brannigan, a parody of Shatner/Kirk who features prominently in this episode.
In Airplane II: The Sequel Shatner plays the moon base commander trying to help Ted Striker land the shuttle. When he looks into a periscope, the camera cuts to what he sees - the Enterprise. After reacting with surprise, he looks again and we're back to the normal space scene.
There is no other way to describe Shatner's stint as Guest Host of WWE Raw.
William Shatner's co-star George Takei, a.k.a. Sulu, generally Adam Wests in live action, but can get quite subtle and effective in voice acting. A recurring theme, if they don't get into his sexuality, tends to be drinking.
He previously made a cameo in 3rd Rock from the Sun which featured the Solomons charging stuff to his hotel account until he was dragged away by security screaming "You can't do this to me! I'm GEORGE TAKEI, DAMN IT!"
And an episode of Will And Grace where he played a version of himself still in the closet until he was 'finally outed' on a public TV show.
There's also this PSA where he plays a Camp Gay version of himself for laughs. Wicked, squirm-inducing laughs. And an awesome retort to some intolerant remarks.
He also appears in Big Bang Theory in the back of Bernadette's car during her first date with Wollowitz as a snarky Camp Gay but well-intentioned, er, thought in Wollowitz's head.
And in Psych, he plays a pompous, egotistical version of himself who simply has to be in the limelight. This allowed Shawn and Gus to infiltrate the convention where he was the guest of honor. How did they do it? They pretended to be Takei's personal assistants. When they were confronted by Takei himself, Shawn explained that Takei had fired his previous assistants for incompetence, which he fully believed.
Takei had a more dignified cameo as Prowl's martial arts teacher Yoketron in an episode of Transformers Animated.
Also had a cameo as "Mr. Sulu" on The Simpsons episode where Homer joins the Naval Reserve.
There is also a Muppets Tonight episode where Takei bores the pants off of Beaker and then some penguins on the subject — his role in Star Trek!
Little-known Canadian sci-fi-com Alienated has him showing up and ordering a "Gin and... Gin."
Adventure Time's Ricardio the Heart Guy appears to be Takei, giving "Best-Friend massages". They're completely... consensual.
He was also the voice actor for Lord Hakkera in Freelancer, and was most often met with in a bar.
In an episode of Suite Life On Deck, George plays London's future descendant. When the spaceship is attacked by hostile aliens, he says "Oh, my! How many times do I have to go through this?"
Subverted in Archer, where he guest-starred as a violent Yakuza kingpin. Though the fact that it was a voice role and the audience couldn't actually see Takei probably helped make the performance much more effective.
Surprisingly averted in Heroes, where he plays Kaito Nakamura, a typical Japanese businessman and the father of Hiro Nakamura, one of the protagonists. Kaito has nothing in common with Sulu (except for his fondness of swords). Although Hiro Nakamura is a huge star trek fan...
Kaito's license plate reads "NCC-1701", the registry number that also appears prominently on the hull of the Enterprise.
The late James Doohan also turned to Adam Westing due to finding it hard to get work after playing Star Trek's Scotty.
In the attempted reboot of Knight Rider, Knight Rider 2000 he plays himself, who has become an old crazy man spewing lines from the TV show while trying to pull large sums of money from an ATM machine.
The quintessential Real LifeGenius Cripple thoroughly enjoys cameos as himself. One comes to suspect that the reason he refuses to upgrade his vocalizer is because of the sheer awesomeness of snarking in a Machine Monotone (although he did get an upgrade to give it a better British accent).
A few years later he ran into Brent Spiner, and immediately asked "Where's my money?" (He won the card game, but Data was forced to end the simulation before he could collect his chips).
He has something going on with Matt Groening - he'll show up out of nowhere, and likes to "play" himself as a bit of a charlatan:
One episode of The Simpsons, where he claimed he had an IQ of over 200 and a bunch of gadgets built into his wheelchair, including an extensible boxing glove, an automatic toothbrush and a helicopter propeller. (Homer mistook him for Larry Flynt, founder of Hustler magazine.)
Hawking: Your idea of a donut shaped universe is fascinating, Homer. I may have to steal it.
Note: some scientists actually believe in a universe shaped this way, called a torus universe.
He has thrice appeared on Futurama, once as himself and then as his preserved head.
Fry: Hey, aren't you that physics guy that invented gravity?
Hawking: Welcome. I am the pickled head of Stephen Hawking, on a way cool rocket.
Leela: Black Hole Hawking? If I knew I was going to meet you I'd have done something with my hair!
Hawking: You should have.
Amy: (After Farnsworth discovers the Grand Unified Theory in a What If? scenario) Professor, you did it! You solved the problem that baffled Einstein and drove Stephen Hawking to quit Physics and become a cartoon voice actor.
Stephen: I like Physics, but I love cartoons.
Hawking also appeared as himself on an episode of The Big Bang Theory where he looked at one of Sheldon's papers and declared it to be completely inaccurate.
Sheldon: No, no... that can't be right. I... I don't make arithmetic mistakes.
Stephen: Are you saying I do?
Sheldon: Oh, no, no, of course not. It just, I was thinking... Oh, gosh, golly. I made a boo-boo, and I gave it to Stephen Hawking.
Every time Tay Zonday has appeared on national TV he was definitely Adam Westing for himself... but nowhere is this more obvious than in the Cherry Chocolate Rainvideo, which he did as an advert for Dr. Pepper's Cherry Chocolate flavoured soda.
Michael Bay demands things be awesome in Verizon commercials. And by "awesome", he means "exploding". Particularly effective since his real-life persona is so close to what one would expect, given his movies.
Donald Trump seems to revel in parodies of himself, even appearing in a series of OREO commercials with Darrell Hammond (Hammond was Saturday Night Live's longest-running white male cast member and one of the show's best and most frequently-used celebrity impersonators — he has 107 as of this writing, with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, actor Sean Connery, real estate mogul Donald Trump, and a lot of George W. Bush's Cabinet members [Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld] being the most popular and/or frequently seen) impersonating him. Of course, if you're worth two billion and change, you can afford some self depreciation.
Mickey Rourke appeared in a commercial for a Dutch beer where he ruthlessly spoofs his own image, portraying himself as a childish, spoilt ass who loves only booze, little dogs and women. He throws a tantrum (and a minibar...) when he finds out they only serve alcohol free beer in his room, per example.
Famous romance-novel-cover model and sex symbol Fabio did a stint advertising I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! in the most over-the-top, sexy manner ever. He even recorded personalizable dialogue for a promo website, ramping up the ridiculousness.
His appearance on Big Time Rush was played straight... apart from the quirk that he was promoting a pocket-sized portable grill, and so was constantly producing different varieties of grilled meats (stop smirking) from his pocket, and offering them to people.
Virgin Money ran an advertising campaign starring various celebrities from the 1980s (Geoffrey Hayes, presenter of Rainbow; ska icon Buster Bloodvessel; and David Van Day from the pop duo Dollar) lampooning the fact that they had blown all their money and were now reduced to working menial jobs - respectively, as a taxi driver, guest house owner and running a mobile burger van.
Detroit-area electronics chain ABC Warehouse features company founder Gordon "Gordy" Hartunian playing a comically-goofy version of himself in its radio and TV spots.
Snickers has begun an entire ad campaign consisting of a series of celebrities doing this to represent how unpleasant a random guy is while hungry. So far Betty White, Abe Vigoda, Aretha Franklin, Liza Minnelli, and Joe Pesci have appeared.
An older example: Peter Lorre plays his creepy self as "Peter Lorre the Destroyer" in a watch band commercial (seen at 5:43 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKpQfqg22mg)where he says "I get tremendous satisfaction from destroying things — doesn't everybody?" Then he tries to destroy the watch band but it's too flexible, and he sadly concludes "but I can't destrooooy eeet!"
Anime and Manga
The Gag Dub of Super Milk Chan includes live action segments centered around the cast and crew of ADV Films, in which they play themselves as a dysfunctional group of misanthropes and prima donnas.
Seiyuu Yuko Goto in Lucky Star playing as hyper masculine biker gang member called 'Gothouther-sama', named after her favorite character in Fist of the North Star, making fun of how she is always cast as a Nice Girl, while in reality, she's a hardcore biker.
A 2-part episode of Detective Conan had Minami Takayama (who also voices the titular character) guest-starring as herself.
In Stuck on You Cher gets basically played as a has been that people don't care about.
The upcoming " This is the End" looks likey it will employ this heavily as it involves the coming apocalypse during a celebrity filled party at James Franco's house. Featuring Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hil,l Danny McBride,Craig Robinson, and Jay Baruchel.
In the movie Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Brendan Fraser plays D.J. Drake, a security guard and former stuntman. When Daffy doesn't believe the latter, he claims he was in the Mummy movies "more than that guy Brendan Fraser was." At the end of the movie, he meets the "real" Brendan Fraser (obviously also played by Fraser), who acts like a total Jerkass to D.J. prompting him to punch Brendan in the face.
Michael Madsen in Being Michael Madsen - a mockumentary that implies he's just Mr Blonde as an actor, which is terrifying enough as a mental image. Some of his voice acting for video games counts too, as does the fact that in more recent movies (such as Kill Bill) the movie almost relies on you to know what a Michael Madsen character is "supposed" to be like, so it can confound your expectations.
In Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, a quasi-mockumentary about filming an adaptation of the novel, Gillian Anderson (as herself) gets the part of the Widow Wadnam because the producer loves her as Scully on the X-Files. Gillian wants to get away from her most famous role, and is later annoyed when her scenes as the widow are cut from the movie. Many, many more layers of meta in this film.
Elements of Adam Westing are incorporated into the film Tropic Thunder: Robert Downey, Jr.'s character, an award-winning Australian actor, was revised after he was cast to include attributes of the real-life actor, including his propensity for staying in character for extended periods of time and a turbulent relationship with the press.
Bruce Campbell plays "A sleazy version of himself" in My Name Is Bruce. In this case, at least partially, Campbell was playing the opposite of his normal persona. His character was bitter about being a B-movie actor. In real life Campbell loves being a B-movie actor because it's fun and not very hard.
Stan Lee often shows up in non-Marvel-licensed movies as an excessively comic-obsessed Stan Lee with delusions of being a super hero himself. It's hard to tell how much is acting since his real life personality is almost an Adam Westing of himself anyway. In Mallrats he claims to be in a sexual conquest contest with Mick Jagger and is far ahead. In Iron Man 2 he's mistaken for Hugh Hefner.
In perhaps the most multi-layered display of Adam Westing in film, Roger Moore appeared in Cannonball Run as the bored Jewish heir to an underwear tycoon, who posed as actor Roger Moore to impress a succession of high-tone women, also adopting the mannerisms and gadgets of James Bond, most notably his Aston Martin DB5. His performance therefore incorporated a straight self-parody of how he'd been typecast as Bond, a parody of his suave-sex-symbol image, and a Captain ErsatzTake That (as Bond's name is never mentioned) toward his most famous role.
Elisabeth Shue played "herself" in Hamlet 2. Her character in the movie quit acting to become a nurse in a sperm bank, and it's implied that she's a nymphomaniac.
Security Cop: "Excuse me sirs, but we have 10-07 on our hands." Matt Damon: "Jesus, Ben. Not again." Ben Affleck: "Noooo, bullshit! I wasn't WITH a hooker today! Aha-ha!"
And this one:
Matt Damon: Hey, shove it, Bounce-boy. Let's remember who talked who into doing this shit in the first place. Talking me into Dogma was one thing, but this... Ben Affleck: Hey look, I'm sorry I dragged you away from whatever gay-serial-killers-who-ride-horses-and-like-to-play-golf-touchy-feely-picture you're supposed to be doing this week. Matt Damon: I take it you haven't seen Forces of Nature? Ben Affleck: You're like a child. What've I been telling you? You gotta do the safe picture. Then you can do the art picture. But then sometimes you gotta do the payback picture because your friend says you owe him. [They both take a beat and look at the camera] Ben Affleck: And sometimes, you have to go back to the well. Matt Damon: And sometimes, you do Reindeer Games. Ben Affleck: See, that's just mean.
Mark Hamill may have Captain Ersatzed himself in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, not as his most famous role (Luke Skywalker) but his role as the voice of the Joker from Batman The Animated Series. Here, he plays Cock-Knocker. While the "bongsaber" duel was certainly a play on his role as Skywalker ("Don't fuck with a Jedimaster, son"), the outlandish character of Cock-Knocker with his colourful costume, and in particular the bright yellow wig, will remind some of his voice work as the Joker. The costume, at least, was probably inspired by his role as the Trickster in the 90s TV series The Flash.
Paris Hilton in Repo! The Genetic Opera. She plays an airheaded heiress who prostitutes herself for drugs, to numb herself during the plastic surgery she's addicted to, because she wants to be a singer but keeps getting booed off the stage. Although the part wasn't originally written for her, she insisted on getting it and played it with great enthusiasm.
Jean-Claude Van Damme, after years of getting typecast as a hero in straight-to-DVD action movies, had JCVD, in which he plays himself reacting to a bank robbery mostly with fear and begging.
Joaquin Phoenix attempted to do a double-ironic post-meta version of this for his film I'm Still Here, a mockumentary/documentary of Phoenix's nervous breakdown/rap career, which turned out to have been staged as a publicity stunt for I'm Still Here. Somehow, audiences were unimpressed.
Goes as far back as the Doris Day classic, It's A Great Feeling which featured cameos from Edward G. Robinson failing to live up to his tough guy persona to Joan Crawford slapping the two main characters just because she does it in all her movies.
Arguably, Diddy's (or P. Diddy or Sean Combs) appearance in Get Him to the Greek could be this. He plays the crazy record executive Sergio Roma with multiple kids and issues with his baby mamas. In real life, he is a producer and does have multiple kids by multiple women.
Nicolas Cage's current career is arguably based on this. Roger Ebert suggests he is doing a career experiment where he only takes the very best and the very worst films that are offered to him.
In Postal, Uwe Boll claims to be a child molester who finances his films with Nazi Gold, gets shot in the dick, and dies while screaming about how much he hates video games.
In Blubberella, Uwe Boll appears in a dream sequence as Hitler.
In Ted, the eponymous teddy bear and his best friend do whiskey shots and cocaine with Sam Jones, who saved us all.
Jack Benny himself was arguably an example of this, what with the whole "vain, egotistical miser" bit.
By the end of the fifth season of Degrassi, the show had gotten so melodramatic and earnest that the actors (and the writers) needed to relax and let off steam. They did it with a truly epic amount of Adam Westing, both on their show and others. To take maybe 1 percent of what they did:
Craig, the show's Tragic Hero, is a sensitive, emotional musician who has very tragic teen romances and often ruins things with his grandiosity. Craig's actor guest-starred in Radio Free Roscoe as an incompetent wannabe musician, dripping with self-indulgent Wangst and more-artistic-than-thou pretentiousness, whose "sensitive, tortured soul" is an act that he uses to seduce girls.
In TV specials and "behind the scenes" pieces, actress Stacie Farber (who played the shows' grim Goth) never lost an opportunity to point out that in real life, she's a preppy fashionista who loves all the things the goth found phony.
The Babylon 5 episode "Day of the Dead" guest stars Penn And Teller as Rebo and Zooty, an even more irritating comedy duo of the future.
Perhaps the best part of Go On is the appearences by Ryan's intern/temporary assistant, Terrell Owens, playing himself as a fun-loving and enthusastic version of himself, unlike his Jerkass real life persona
Wayne Brady appears in an episode of Chappelle's Show as an over the top, violent and vulgar comedian out to steal the title character's show — a complete opposite of what Wayne Brady is like in real life, and a result of one of Paul Mooney's characters saying "White people love Wayne Brady, because he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X."
Tom Baker's work on Little Britain as The Narrator is an exaggeration of his on-and-off-screen eccentric personality. "Have you ever done it gaywise? It's a hoot."
Tim Stack as "TV's Tim Stack" on My Name Is Earl. The character is a narcissistic drunk who holds beauty pageants and parades. Tim Stack is actually a writer for a few of the episodes.
This has happened to a certain extent to most of the actors in the M*A*S*H television series.
Jamie Farr once guest-starred on That 70's Show as himself, and joked about his character's... eccentricities.
Alan Alda appeared on 30 Rock as a die-hard liberal. His former work was practically noticeable when he walked in on Tracy sobbing about his repressed inferiority complex over his failure to dissect a frog, and uttered the following line:
A grown man crying about a chicken and a baby? I thought this was a comedy!
Jon Favreau appeared on as a name-dropping, overly-pretentious jerkass version of himself who'd come to New Jersey to make a movie. Star-struck gangster Christopher was delighted to hang out with "Jon"... until "Jon" stole all his ideas. The real Favreau is a much nicer person.
Frank Sinatra couldn't show up to lampoon his own mob ties, on account of being dead, so instead we get Frank Sinatra Jr. playing Poker.
When Christopher pitches his idea for Cleaver to Sir Ben Kingsley, the actor comes off as a total materialistic snob, completely disinterested in anything Christopher's saying. So instead, they have to settle for Daniel Baldwin.
The same episode stars Lauren Bacall, who seems nice at first but turns out to have quite a dirty mouth (granted, she was being mugged at the time, but it's quite hilariously shocking to hear the F-word coming from her).
In a The Catherine Tate Show sketch for Comic Relief, Tate's character of Elaine Figgis was in a relationship with Daniel Craig but had no idea who he was and seemed put off by Craig's constant affections. This was definitely more along the lines of affectionate self-parody, as the character (and Craig's participation) shows him as a normal guy, in contrast to his characters in Layer Cake, Casino Royale and other films who tend to be rather icy and brutal.
Extras was a show devoted to this, with highlights including:
Kate Winslet as a calculating Oscar climber playing a nun in the Holocaust for Oscar Bait. This was made even more delicious with her Oscar win for starring in a film centered around the Holocaust (The Reader). Ricky Gervais called her on it when he hosted the Golden Globes — "Well done Winslet, I told ya, do a Holocaust movie, the awards come, didn't I?" — with the result of her turning beet red and nearly falling off her chair laughing.
Chris Martin of Coldplay plugging the (then) new greatest hits album on everything from a sitcom to a public service announcement to his shirt in every scene he's in.
Orlando Bloom as an egotistical heartthrob who starts pursuing Maggie because she doesn't find him attractive and he is therefore absolutely determined to enlighten her as to his hotness.
Orlando: Kiss me. Let me show you how I do it.
Maggie: Well okay, if it'll shut you up.
Comedian Les Dennis as a pathetic, broken shell of a man. Les himself contributed several anecdotes from his own life to make his character even more pitiable.
Patrick Stewart talking about how he wanted to do a movie as a character based on Professor Xavier of X-Men... who used his vast mental powers primarily to make the clothes of nubile young women spontaneously fall off.
Stewart: They try to cover up but I've seen everything!
Ronnie Corbett and Moira Stuart as cokeheads,
Keith Chegwin as a hardcore racist and homophobe.
Shaun Williamson having only one notable role: Barry from Eastenders. He's referred to as Barry constantly by the other characters, and he's even called that in the credits.
Luisana Lopilato in Casados Con Hijos (the version of Married... with Children licensed for Argentina) spoofed the teenage starlet characters she played in shows such as Rebelde Way and Floricienta.
Cybill had Cybill Shephard, fallen actress... as Cybill Sheridan, fallen actress.
Carl Weathers plays himself as a constantly broke, scheming and cheapskate opportunist on Arrested Development.
Saturday Night Live guests frequently invoke this trope, especially in opening monologues: eg. Bob Saget gives an autograph to a child fan (though the "autograph" turns out to just be a string of dirty words since Saget was exhilarated to be on a show where he could actually use them), who asks for his pen back afterwards; Bob refuses, then reveals that the interior of his jacket is lined with pens stolen from the many kids who sought his autograph.
This can happen at any time on Saturday Night Live. Examples include Lindsay Lohan as a prisoner who seems to think her movies are real and Ellen Page as a girl full of lesbian stereotypes.
Everyone who appeared as a guest on the spoof talk show The Larry Sanders Show was doing this. Worth mentioning is David Duchovny, who played himself in love with Larry, propositioning him backstage wherever he appeared.
Anthony Stewart Head appeared on Spooks as a smart, well-educated international terrorist who was notorious for duping naive young women into helping him carry out his attacks. He apparently had a particular thing for blondes...
Jennifer Grey as Jennifer Grey on It's Like, You Know..., an out-of-work actress who had just received a rhinoplasty... much like the real Jennifer Grey.
In A Colbert Christmas, country singer Toby Keith appears as himself, singing an even more hyperbolic take on his post-9/11 hit "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" meant to spoof conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly's declaration of a "war on Christmas." He also enters and exits the holiday special carrying an assault rifle.
Brent Spiner does this as well in a brief appearance, opening the package of a signed Wesley Crusher action figure given to Sheldon by Wheaton, and thus taking Wheaton's place as Sheldon's mortal enemy.
On Just Shoot Me! Finch, a big Star Wars fan, meets Mark Hamill and pesters him. Hamill agrees to spend the day with Finch at his job in the Blush magazine offices. After a while Hamill annoys Finch to the point where Finch asks him to leave and Mark reveals he was just acting so irritating to teach Finch a lesson.
Hamill does a similar role on 3rd Rock from the Sun where he's hounded by the main cast for his performance as Luke Skywalker. While he publicly bemoans his fans only remembering that part, he's shown alone in his hotel room re-enacting it in front of his mirror with a hair dryer as a blaster.
During Comedy Central's roast of Larry the Cable Guy, Gary Busey spends a good 5 minutes insulting himself.
Busey: "How did they manage to get Gary Busey here? Did somebody turn on the batshit signal?"
Busey also plays a literally crazy version of himself in Two and a Half Men. Literal to the point where he's Alan's roommate when he's institutionalized.
Duncan James, previously of the Boy Band Blue, played an obvious parody of himself and how he is perceived in the media in the UK SitcomPlus One, to the extent that his character was only ever referred to (even in the credits) as 'Duncan from Blue'.
Olivia Newton John on Glee plays an uber-Jerkassish version of herself in the episodes "Bad Reputation" and "Journey".
Particularly in one episode where the family is trying to throw off a reporter who nearly discovers Miley is Hannah Montana. Miley pretends to be a delusional girl who only thinks she's Hannah Montana, while Jackson pretends to be Elvis. The final straw however, is when Billy Ray's character throws on a huge mullet wig and says he's Billy Ray Cyrus. The reporter declares that the whole family is crazy and leaves.
Miley, to an extent derives much humor in Adam Westing her own Real Life self in the Miley Stewart and "Hannah" roles throughout the show, in particular her Deep South roots and celebrity status (along with the occasional stealth humor on her run-ins with scandal, and her Teen Idol image).
Don Adams after Get Smart was typecast to the point where Maxwell Smart was the only character he could play (see The Nude Bomb). He did do voice work for Tennessee Tuxedo but that was just his Maxwell Smart voice.
And in Inspector Gadget, where he offers a glimpse of what Robocop might have be if he'd been rebuilt out of Maxwell Smart instead of Alex Murphy.
In Party Down, Steve Guttenberg plays himself as a cartoonishly enthusiastic and accommodating host who takes a bunch of clueless waiters under his wing for a night. No matter how idiotically his guests behave, he continues to smile indulgently and congratulate them for sharing. After spending the whole night encouraging his guests to "go for it," he steals one of their dates.
In Episodes, actor Matt LeBlanc ("Joey" from Friends) plays a (presumably) fictional Jerk Ass version of himself, using his own name and Friends backstory, but with some fictionalized elements including (presumably) a Gag Penis, and two sons instead of his real singular daughter.
Triple H had a role in an episode of Pacific Blue as a porn king's bodyguard. He's apparently playing himself since not only is his character referred to as "Triple H" by the others but he even wears a DeGeneration-X shirt. Maybe in this universe he fell on some hard times?
An episode of The Golden Girls featured Lyle Waggoner and Sonny Bono as caricatures of themselves fighting over Dorothy's affections. In the end, it's revealed that the whole thing was All Just a Dream... and a recurring one, at that.
Isaiah Mustafa (aka Old Spice Guy) appears in Chuck as a character almost as implausibly awesome as he is in the Old Spice adverts - super confident, imposingly strong, and a perfect shot with a sticker gun at 30 feet (shooting behind his back). He even gets a tooth-gleam effect when smiling.
Chevy Chase, known for his prima donna antics and sour egotism around his co-stars (leading to his permanent ban on Saturday Night Live) revived his career playing Pierce Hawthorne in Community, whose selfishness, bordering on psychopathic, wreaks havoc on the show.
Jack Black's character in Community is an overenthusiastic, deluded, half-crazy Large Ham who breaks into song at inappropriate moments. When trying to persuade the group of his value, he describes himself as a "Chubby agile guy" before accidentally high-kicking Jeff in the face.
Charles Grodin, actually an extremely nice guy by all accounts, adopts the same curmudgeonly, cynical, easily annoyed persona in his public and television appearances that he became known for in film. It got really confusing when he hosted an ostensibly non-comedic cable chat show as the comically serious and bitter "Charles Grodin" instead of as himself.
Lyle Talbot, former matinee idol turned B-movie actor, portrayed "State Senator Lyle Talbot", a former matinee idol turned B-movie actor turned politician in Green Acres, parodying both himself and then California governor Ronald Reagan. He later portrayed the unnamed state's governor who would host marathons of his own films on a local TV station.
Sometimes the guest stars on Entourage will do this. Matt Damon is the best example, with one episode ending with him begging for donations to a child charity on his phone, becoming more and more overly emotional each time and going further into overblown ham comedy.
How I Met Your Mother's star drawing power is pretty up there, and they enjoy Adam Westing. They got Emmitt Smith in the second season (What's more important than football? Dance, my friend. Dance) and Regis Philbin in the fourth.
Maury Povich appears in one episode in the background of almost every scene, meaning that he's in numerous places at once.
Casa Vianello, the longest-running Sitcom on Italian TV (1988-2007), depicted a comedic version of Raimondo Vianello and Sandra Mondaini (two of the most beloved former film and TV actors in Italy)'s everyday life. The two were married in real life too; Raimondo portrayed himself as a grumpy, scheming and lecherous old man whose only interest in life was soccer, and Sandra played the part of the brilliant but ditzy housewife who always tries to find new ways to escape boredom. The show enjoyed immediate success and the end of every episode, with the two in bed, Sandra wildly thrashing her legs while Raimondo quietly read a newspaper right next to her, became something of a Memetic Mutation in Italy.
David Bowie's Jazzin' for Blue Jean (1984), a Short Film / long-form video, is partially built around this via his playing two roles. One is Adorkable hero Vic, who is trying to maintain a Celebrity Lie. The celebrity in question is Bowie's other character, Screamin' Lord Byron, a rock star with an elaborate, Arabian Nights-inspired onstage look and a way with the ladies... plus a diva-ish attitude and presumably decadent offstage life — when we first see him in the flesh, his handlers are carrying him to his dressing room because he's passed out; he's even hooked up to a portable oxygen tank. Bowie had just had a Newbie Boom thanks to 1983's Let's Dance, and it's possible newbies didn't realize "Mr. Screamin'" was a spoof of his 1970s personas (Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, etc.) and excesses. As Vic chews him out at the end: "You conniving, randy, bogus-Oriental old queen! Your record sleeves are better than your songs!"
James Van Der Beek plays a parody version of himself in the video for Kesha's "Blow".
Lazlow Jones is a hacker, radio host and privacy advocate who moonlights as a writer for the Grand Theft Auto series. He voices one of the recurring radio hosts (also called Lazlow) and happens to be one of the unluckier characters of the franchise, routinely getting threatened and insulted by his callers and guests. By Grand Theft Auto IV, Lazlow has been fired half a dozen times from various stations and has become increasingly bitter and alcoholic.
Lazlow's collegue and friend, Couzin Ed, has a cameo in Grand Theft Auto Vice City as the previous host of V-Rock who crank calls his replacement, Lazlow.
In Dr Katz Professional Therapist, every main character was the voice actor doing a self-parody. The patients were all stand-up comics replaying the 'total neurotic loser bits' from their own stand-up acts, to animation. Dr. Katz is the only one with original lines.
The Futurama movie "Into the Wild Green Yonder" featured Penn Jillette as a head who barely fit in his jar and worked with a Teller who was dead and the act was pretty much the same.
In The Simpsons episode "On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister," Lisa gets a restraining order against Bart and Bart is given an instructional video on restraining orders narrated by Gary Busey, who enters on a motorcycle, introduces himself with an Evil Laugh, and concludes his parable on restraining orders thusly;
Busey: I'm gonna let you in on a little secret; John is me. And Mary is a composite of twelve women and one major film studio that couldn't deal with me because I'm too real.
In another episode, Stan Lee plays a slightly crazy version of himself who will not leave Comic Book Guy's shop, breaks a toy Batmobile in an attempt to make a The Thing figurine fit inside it, thinks he "made it better" and believes he can turn into the Hulk.
Stan Lee: But I did it for real once!
Comic Book Guy:Please. You couldn't turn into Bill Bixby!
Teller: No it isn't! Don't leave me alone with him!
Penn:[to Homer] You've ruined the act! I'm going to kill you!
Teller: He'll do it! I'm not the first Teller!
They made a return appearance during "The Great Simpsina", a stage-magic-based episode. This time, Teller's the domineering one (claiming that Penn "only does the talking on stage.") Also, when a variety of dangerous objects are thrown at Penn as a distraction, he starts juggling them, seemingly on instinct alone.
Teller: Just drop them!
Penn: I can't! I never learned how!
Before Family Guy, James Woods played himself-as-a-lunatic in "Homer and Apu", replacing Apu at the Kwik-E-Mart and claiming to be researching a movie role (during the interview he even claims to have traveled through time to research for his cameo in Chaplin). When Apu returns to his job, Woods leaves to "battle aliens on a faraway planet", and gives a Sure, Why Not? reaction when Marge thinks he's talking about another role.
Bullock: Naturally, recapturing this fugitive is our top priority. Then we can track down the bastards that have been harboring it and punish them brutally. I mean, really brutally. Weird stuff. Butt stuff.
Patrick Stewart also voiced Peter during a cutaway in which Peter had had his vocal cords surgically replaced with Patrick Stewart's
He also voices the internal monologues of Joe's infant baby Susie. His first line in that role was "Hello, this is Patrick Stewart, how are you enjoying the show so far?"
Family Guy also has James Woods, who plays himself as a recurring psychotic villain. In one episode, Rush Limbaugh also showed up playing himself (well, Fred Savage in a suit, but that's another episode....)
A Cutaway Gag Alyssa Milano appear in person to file a defamation suit against the show, spoofing a lawsuit she filed in real life.
There was also had a gruesome spoof of Scooby-Doo, using the actual voice actors.
"Patriot Games" portrayed Jay Leno as a stalker who wants to kill Tom Brady (with Leno himself providing the voice).
American Dad has, not only Patrick Stewart, they also had the members of the band My Morning Jacket play themselves, having to deal with Stan's slightly-stalkerish obsession of them, especially the singer Jim James.
They also had Ricky Martin in an episode as himself where he was shown as being in love with Roger.
Robot Chicken does this a lot, as a surprising number of the celebrity parodies feature the actual celebrity. Special mention has to go to the fourth season premiere, which starts with co-creators Matthew Senreich and Seth Green (himself someone that can't stand the thought of only having a major role in a hit TV show paying hundreds of thousands) looking for jobs from a Joss Whedon as an overly dramatic egotistical nut-job who thinks he has the right to kill them, a Ron Moore who writes Battlestar Galactica by throwing darts to decide who's a Cylon (and decides to kill Seth Green because he thinks he could be one) and Seth MacFarlane as a guy with the reality-warping power to rewrite history to include any random past event he offhandedly mentions, which he does constantly. All of them were voiced by the actual people.
Some other memorable examples have been Rachael Leigh Cook in a parody of her "This is your brain on drugs" PSA where she goes completely bonkers and starts running around destroying things with the frying pan until finally leaping off building to her death; Joey Fatone playing himself as 'The Karate Kid to revenge the deaths of his fellow N'Sync bandmates (and also poke fun at his weight problem — the sketch is called "Enter the Fat One"); Corey Haim and Corey Feldman as failed-child-actor would-be superheroes; Tila Tequila in her MTV reality show, revealed to be a Terminator-esque cyborg programmed with the sole goal of being a pop celebrity; Stan Lee and Pamela Anderson as the co-hosts of a comic book gossip show, with Stan making increasingly un-subtle innuendos until finally leaping out a window to prevent anyone from finding out his secret identity.
Ryan Seacrest parodied his own public image during a guest spot on this show.
In The Venture Brothers, Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman The Animated Series, does an absolutely hilarious parody of his performance as the caped crusader, in the form of Captain Sunshine, complete with massiveHo Yay directed towards his deceased sidekick, Wonderboy. While directing his performance, the creators were adamant that Conroy not "be afraid to be Batman."
Archer did it with Burt Reynolds, who turns out to be just as much a crack stunt driver and world-class ladies' man in real life as in the movies that Archer is obsessed with.
In the years between his initial burst of fame as the star of Doogie Howser, M.D. and his comeback role as Barney in How I Met Your Mother, Neil Patrick Harris guest-starred in an episode of Static Shock as a washed-up teen sitcom actor who turned to a life of crime after failing to find more acting work. As Harris himself was still struggling to get a steady gig, this casting could be seen as an allusion.
In Ultimate Spider-Man, Stan Lee plays a school janitor who is prone to delusions of grandeur and frequently talks to himself when nobody else is around. The students seem to think he is insane.
Mark Hamill appeared as himself in a sketch on Robot Chicken called "Meteorgeddon" where Harrison Ford is chosen to lead a mission to blow up a rogue asteroid (along with Aerosmith as the crew). He says he's not qualified but a Star Wars fan cheers him on: "Go get 'em Han Solo". Then there's another press conference called by Hamill who thinks he should lead the mission:
Hamill: "Hey, I blew up the Death Star with my eyes closed."
SAME Star Wars fan: "That was just a movie, dude."
Bob Sagetrevived his career by Adam Westing the family-friendly image he built up from his roles in Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos by portraying fictionalized, foul-mouthed, substance abusing and sex-craving versions of himself in Entourage and Jamie Kennedy's comedy rap song "Rollin With Saget". Since then, he has built a new image for himself as a dirty, hard-edged comic by frequently Adam Westing (and often downright trashing) his previous career in his stand-up and subsequent television and film appearances.
This can be seen as early as his legendary appearance in the 1998 film Half Baked.
One of the stranger cases. Saget started out as a blue comic before landing the family-friendly roles on AFHV and Full House. Then came the Adam Westing. After that, Saget's most notable role is the reminiscent dad on How I Met Your Mother, where he very often bowdlerizes the booze-and-sex fueled romps enjoyed by himself and his friends.
With Willie Nelson, it's hard to say where the personality ends and the Adam Westing begins. Some guest-starring self-parodies are obvious, like making fun of his pigtails on The Simpsons or his tax problems on King of the Hill. His frequent marijuana jokes anytime he appears in person might be a self-parody (he's pretty old to be smoking anything at this point), or might just be himself talking about himself.
"Do you smell that?" "No I don't, and you don't either."
Ichiro Mizuki of JAM Project, in works he appears, is known for being a Large Ham and reveling in it.
Jay Leno is quite fond of making movie cameos and having a laugh at his own expense and his oversized chin. He even appeared on Battlebots with a robot with his a picture of his face called Chin Killa
The play Arsenic and Old Lace includes a gangster who is frequently mistaken for a famous horror movie actor. When the play originally ran on Broadway the role was played by ... Boris Karloff
While attending UC Berkeley, Jeff Cohen, who played Chunk in The Goonies, became student body president, using "Chunk for president!" as his campaign slogan, and would also do the "Truffle Shuffle" at home games, even though he had lost weight as an adult.
Rebecca Black seems to be forever tagged to Fridays as she starred as herself in Katy Perry's Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) music video.
Daniel Elsberg is an economist who made a significant contribution to the theory of decisions under uncertainty, but he will always be known as the Pentagon Papers guy.