"Get it? Madonna, of all people, playing a missionary! Isn't that hilarious?"
This is simply when an actor's role in a film in some way mirrors or parodies their Real Life
circumstances and/or career and other roles they're famous for. This forms a small joke or minor piece of merriment. Note that the gag is dependent on the casting and the role only rather than some later effected plot or dialogue. It should be fairly easy to describe the gag as "casting actor X (who is Y) in the role of character Z (who is Y)".
Sometimes it may overlap with Actor Allusion
for another character where their respective actors have worked together before. However, the two must not be confused. A Casting Gag
relies upon casting an actor in a role that reflects on their Real Life
history. An Actor Allusion
is any character, plot or situation that references a previous plot or role
for the actor.
There is also Meta Casting
, which is when such a gag is used specifically to cause a resonance between the character and the audience.
An actor can use this self-consciously for themselves for Adam Westing
. Compare with Playing Against Type
where the casting may feel like a joke for the wrong reasons. Contrast with Stunt Casting
where the big name actor is not being used for any in-joke but as a piece of marketing to draw in a wider crowd. When the Casting Gag
is specifically that the person cast is an Actor Allusion
for an already estabilished character, it's I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine
. If the Casting Gag
is that the actor appeared in an earlier version of the same story, it's a Remake Cameo
. Compare also to Cast the Expert
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- In Jewelpet, Mamoru Miyano voiced the Deadpan Snarker secretary agent Keigo Tatewaki who is pretty much had an epitome of comedy. Fans never knew that Miyano voiced a more serious character: Setsuna F. Seiei in Mobile Suit Gundam 00. To add the hilarious factor, he is using the same personality of the Setsuna depicted in the two gag Drama CDS that were released.
- Jun Fukuyama, who is known for playing Lelouch, has recently been cast as Ryner Lute, another character who possesses an Evil Eye. Then he recently became the voice actor for Dian who has the same role, thought more sinister and revengeful if the first series is counted.
- In Lucky Star, Konata works in a Cosplay Cafe and dresses as Haruhi Suzumiya, both characters having been voiced by Aya Hirano, as well as Wendee Lee in the English dubs (Though Lucky Star as a whole is full of shout outs and other things like these).
- In the English version of Code Geass, Johnny Yong Bosch stars as an intelligent and occasionally Necessarily Evil pragmatist whose ideals clash with Yuri Lowenthal, his passionate and idealistic childhood friend. In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Yuri Lowenthal stars as a passionate idealist whose ideals clash with Johnny Yong Bosch, his intelligent and pragmatic childhood friend. Amusingly, while their roles are the same, the "right" and "wrong" sides are reversed.
- In the English dub of Cowboy Bebop, Daran Norris voices both as Andy, a comical character who is Spike's rival during one episode, as well as the antagonist Vincent in the film, who is an Evil Counterpart to Spike.
- In One Piece, the Japanese voice actors for the Straw Hat pirates also provide the voices for a group of impostors trying to gain infamy by posing as the Straw Hats. They also mix up who is who, such as Sanji's voice actor playing the fake Luffy or Chopper's as the fake Nami.
- In Dog Days, both Minako Kotobuki and Kana Hanazawa well known for there roles as Mugi and Kuroneko respectively voice Action Girl variants of those characters.
- In Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai Yuka Iguchi voices Maria who is basically Index with lavender hair and a dark blue habit.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Aaron Dismuke did the voice of Alphonse in the English dub of the 2003 anime, but puberty made it impossible for him to reprise the role for Brotherhood—so he did the voice for Al's father, Hohenheim, as a young man.
- There also exists another gag: Luci Christian, who played the 2003 anime's incarnation of Wrath, provides the voice of the Truth in Brotherhood. Both characters are strikingly similar in that both meet Edward at the Gate of Truth and end up taking his arm and leg for themselves, keeping them until the end of the storylines they appear in (except Wrath loses both limbs while the Truth keeps Ed's leg). Considering the Truth simply shares the same voice actor as the one it appears before in the original Japanese language, the fact that they had a single person to portray a character that had something in common with one of her earlier roles in the franchise couldn't be called anything less than a tribute.
- Ga-Rei -Zero-: Funimation cast many of their most popular voice actors to play the five Agency squad members in Episode 01 only. Why Episode 01 only? ....because they all get killed off! Could be a bit of dark humor on Funimation's part.
- With FUNimation finally dubbing the second season onwards of Shakugan no Shana, Shana is voiced by Cherami Leigh, who has some experience with the role.
- Possibly the most illustrious example of this is Sunset Boulevard, in which Gloria Swanson, who was an over the hill, forgotten silent movie actress, plays an over the hill silent movie actress.
- At the same time, she employs a butler who was once a famous, now forgotten, silent film director. This part is played by the once famous, then forgotten silent film director Erich von Stroheim.
- When Swanson's character is seen watching one of her old movies, it is ACTUALLY an old Gloria Swanson movie - directed by Erich von Stroheim.
- And then there's her card-playing buddies from the Old Days ("the Waxworks"), including Buster Keaton.
- To complete the circle, Swanson at one point goes to Cecil B. De Mille to beg a part in his new movie. The director played himself, and the scene was shot on the set of his ACTUAL current movie.
- Carrie Fisher has a cameo in Scream 3 as "Bianca" who is bitter over losing out for the role of Princess Leia to another actress. She goes as far to state that the actress 'must have slept with George Lucas'.
- Also Carrie Fisher, Billie Dee Williams and Ray Park have all appeared in Fanboys because of their roles in Star Wars. The fact that they played different characters added to the level of hilarious.
- Sigourney Weaver plays a (blonde!) Bridge Bunny in Galaxy Quest, a character significantly at odds to her best known role, Ellen Ripley of Alien. In the same film, Tim Allen is very convincing as a washed up TV star, and Alan Rickman is excellent as a respected Shakespearean actor playing a role far below his ability.
- In Avatar Sigourney Weaver fights to protect the aliens. And the film is by the same director of Aliens.
- In Paul, Sigourney Weaver plays the Big Bad that hunts the titular Alien.
- In Shakespeare in Love, Ben Affleck (who was a big name at the time, possibly less so now) has a small role as a big name actor who is tricked into accepting a small role in Romeo and Juliet.
- David Duchovny in Zoolander as a conspiracy nut.
- In the 1970's movie Cannonball Run, one of the racers has the delusion that he is a famous movie star named Roger Moore, and has lots of zany gadgets including an ejection seat in the car. Of course, the character is played by Roger Moore, who was one of the James Bond actors.
- The recent remake of Freaky Friday wanted to do this with Jodie Foster who played the daughter in the original now playing the mother, however she declined.
- In Clue we get this Stealth Pun Casting Gag:
- "Mr. Boddy won't be staying with us for very long. In fact, he's just Lee Ving."
- Sky High: Lynda Carter, former Wonder Woman, as the Sky High Principal.
- Anthony Hopkins was cast as Titus in the film adaptation of Titus Andronicus.
- Christopher Walken appears in Pulp Fiction as a former Vietnam POW. Knowing Quentin Tarantino, this is most likely a reference to Walken's role in The Deer Hunter.
- In Iron Man, the after-credits-appearing character Nick Fury is played by Samuel L. Jackson who serves (with his permission) as the model for the appearance and personality of the Ultimate Universe version of Fury. Within the comic The Ultimates itself, when the team was amusing themselves speculating on who would play them in the movie about their adventures, Fury said that he would of course be played by Samuel L. Jackson.
- A popular theory is that Jackson agreed to provide his likeness for the Ultimate Universe Nick Fury, with the understanding that if ever there was a movie with Nick Fury, he would get to play the role.
- Ghostface Killah — who uses "Tony Starks" as an alias, titled his 1996 solo debut album Ironman and opened his 2000 album Supreme Clientele with a clip of the theme to the old Iron Man cartoon — was actually cast in a supporting role in the film as an industrial tycoon (his scene didn't make it to the final cut).
- Additionally, guitarist Tom Morello appears as one of the terrorists who try to kill the first Iron Man suit. To get the gag you have to remember that he is most famous for playing with "Rage Against The Machine." (Morello later co-scored the sequel)
- And then there were the endless jokes about casting Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. And now he will be playing Sherlock Holmes, who had a bit of a thing for cocaine.
- On top of that, Gandhi is playing a terrorist in Iron Man 3.
- From Maverick:
- A Casting Gag played as Actor Allusion, the title character (played by Mel Gibson) is in a bank as it is held up by an unnamed bank robber played by Danny Glover who starred alongside Gibson in the Lethal Weapon series of movies. Maverick acts as though he recognises the voice of the bank robber and pulls down his mask, leading the two of them to share a moment before shaking their heads and walking away.
- And the unnamed bank robber also mentions that he's "getting too old for this" as he makes his getaway.
- Further, The film features the often-referenced-in-the-series-but-never-seen father of Bret Maverick — who, just coincidentally, happens to be played by none other than James Garner, who originated the role of Maverick on TV.
- Very possibly the casting of Robin Williams, TV's Mork From Ork in The Seventies, as Popeye, searching for his long lost father, Poopdeck Pappy, played by Ray Walston, TV's loveable alien from The Sixties on My Favorite Martian.
- Larry Hagman in Oliver Stone's Nixon, playing a Texas billionaire.
- Since the new resurgence of superhero films began, comic book legend Stan Lee has had a cameo in most of the film series of Marvel characters he helped to create, from Spiderman to X-Men.
- Usually he's just being heroic, but he got to play a character he created, Willie Lumpkin, in the first Fantastic Four movie.
- Rocky Horror Picture Show creator Richard O'Brien was probably best-known in the UK during the 90s for hosting The Crystal Maze, a game show in which contestants had to win crystals (and ultimately prizes) by solving puzzles on a large, labyrinthine set. He was later cast in the Dungeons & Dragons film as the master of a large maze from which the heroes have to retrieve a gem.
- In Kenneth Branagh's film Henry V, the actor Michael Williams, Judi Dench's husband, was cast as the character Michael Williams after she signed on to the film.
- At the beginning of Love Actually, Liam Neeson's character is giving a eulogy for his wife, and he jokingly mentions that they had a lot of time to discuss things when she was ill, and one of her suggestions was that he bring Claudia Schiffer as his date to the funeral. This gets a callback later when he tells his stepson that he plans on never finding love again — unless he should run into Claudia Schiffer. At the end, he's at the stepson's school, trying to help him resolve his own unrequited love for a classmate... and he bumps into another parent he's never met before, who introduces herself as
Carol Karen (he stammers a bit and calls her Carol, though). She's is played by Claudia Schiffer.
- Thoroughly unintentional example (they initially refused to even let her audition): Paris Hilton in Repo! The Genetic Opera playing... a rich, slutty, fashion-obsessed heiress cultivating a singing career using her name and infamy rather than talent. Better than it sounds, not least because her face falls off.
- In Bridget Jones' Diary, Colin Firth was cast to play Mark Darcy, a character inspired by Fitzwilliam Darcy (from Pride and Prejudice) which he played in a series of made for TV films. On top of that, in the original novel, Bridget and her friends are stated to lust after the actor and his famous wet shirt scene.
- The titular Men Who Stare At Goats call themselves "Jedi Knights." So who should be cast as the reporter writing a story on this covert group of psychic warriors, making such statements as, "I don't understand what a Jedi Knight is"? Ewan McGregor.
- According to McGregor, the director didn't even realize this, although McGregor himself played it up.
- Is it just a coincidence that Nestor Carbonell, who played Mayor Anthony Garcia in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, also played Batmanuel in the TV Show of The Tick?
- Derek Jacobi, famous for I, Claudius, as a Roman senator in Gladiator and as King Claudius in Branagh's Hamlet.
- Jacobi's character in Dead Again stutters, just like Claudius.
- Jacobi plays the Archbishop of Canterbury in The King's Speech, which is all about another monarch getting over a Speech Impediment, and arguably, the clergyman role could be a Cadfael-based Casting Gag.
- In David Mamet's adaptation of the play The Winslow Boy, Neil North plays the First Lord of the Admiralty. In the 1948 film of the same play, North had played the title character (a supporting role).
- The same year Mark Williams was cast as the technology-loving wizard Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movie series, he was also an enthusiastic presenter in Industrial Revelations, a documentary series about the history of technology.
- In Half Blood Prince, after Bill was attacked, he was said to bear a distinct resemblance to Mad-Eye Moody. In Deathly Hallows, Bill was played by Domhnall Gleeson whose father, Brendan Gleeson, played Moody.
- In the epilogue, Draco Malfoy's wife was played by Tom Felton's real life girlfriend.
- Miranda Richardson has been in so many roles that involve beheading — Queen Elizabeth in Blackadder II, the Queen of Hearts in 1999's Alice in Wonderland TV miniseries, Lady Van Tassel in Sleepy Hollow — that it's hard to imagine her role as the chicken-killing Mrs. Tweedy in Chicken Run being anything other than an allusion to her past head-removing roles.
- Sean Connery was cast as Indiana Jones' father in The Last Crusade because Spielberg and Lucas considered that the only man who could play Indy's father was James Bond, and because in a meta sense, James Bond was the father of Indiana Jones. Raiders of the Lost Ark came about when Steven Spielberg told George Lucas that he wanted to make a Bond movie; Lucas pitched his "Indiana Smith" character as a rights-free alternative, and the rest is history.
- John Hurt, who played the lead role of Winston Smith in British movie 1984; was in 2006 cast as the dictator for the film V for Vendetta, which bore a similar setting. The dictator's face is seen displayed over several screens throughout the city, all in a very Big Brother-esque way.
- Matt Damon as the hero and Greg Kinnear as the Big Bad in Green Zone. Both had previously starred as conjoined twins in the Farelly Brothers comedy Stuck On You.
- In Enemy of the State, Gene Hackman plays a character who seems like a good-guy version of his "professional eavesdropper" character in The Conversation. This is referenced when a photograph of Hackman's character from that earlier film is used as a file photo in Enemy of the State.
- In Piranha 3D, Richard Dreyfuss has a cameo at the beginning as a character who is practically Matt Hooper from Jaws.
- Blades of Glory manages to make incest both funny and pretty much a foregone conclusion by casting real-life husband and wife Will Arnett and Amy Poehler as fraternal twins Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg.
- Hot Fuzz casts Edward Woodward as the equivalent of his antagonists from The Wicker Man
- In Airplane!, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who's cast as pilot Roger Murdock, is pointed out by a boy on the plane as being Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The boy continues to ask Murdock why he doesn't put more effort into his basketball, to which Murdock heavily implies he's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hiding as a pilot.
- Also, there's one scene in a mental hospital for soldiers with PTSD. One of the soldiers thinks he's Ethel Merman, and he's played by none other than Ethel Merman herself.
- Additionally, casting Peter Graves, Robert Stack, and Leslie Nielsen was in-and-of-itself a Casting Gag because they had never acted in comedic roles before Airplane!.
- In The Flintstones movie, Fred has a secretary named Sharon Stone (a reference to both the actress and the non-stop "rock" puns common in the TV series). The producers wanted Sharon Stone to be played by...Sharon Stone, who had to turn down the role as she was working on another movie (the part was taken by Halle Berry). Stone has since expressed her regret for not appearing in the Flintstones.
- David Rasche plays a senator in Clint Eastwood's Flags Of Our Fathers. Rasche is most famous for spoofing Eastwood's Dirty Harry character as the trigger-happy, fascist Cowboy Cop Sledge Hammer!.
- In A Fish Called Wanda, George Thomason is played by Tom Georgeson.
- In Unknown, Aidan Quinn plays the sinister impostor "Martin B", who steals the identity of Martin Harris (Liam Neeson). They had both played best friends in Michael Collins, and Neeson suggested that he be cast opposite him as the villain.
- Maybe: In Atlas Shrugged Part 1, one of Dagny's enemies is played the actor who was both Quark, an alien who's "Hat" is greed and business prowess and Andrew Ryan, extreme business-liberal and parody of Atlas author Ayn Rand.
- In the original version of The Parent Trap, the father's evil girlfriend is named Vicky. In the remake, the evil girlfriend Meredith's mother says, "You may call me Aunt Vicky." She was played by the same actress who played Vicky in the original.
- In Battle Beyond The Stars Robert Vaughn plays the Recycled In Space version of his character from The Magnificent Seven.
- In Lord of the Rings, Gimli nudges Legolas's bow so that the intended warning shot would nail one of Sauron's pirate reinforcements right in the chest. the pirates were all played by the production staff and the pirate that gets killed? Peter Jackson, the director.
- Ian Holm plays Bilbo, but was Frodo, Bilbo's nephew in the 1981 radio drama.
- Tim Burton has a brief cameo in Film.Singles, playing a disheveled, artistic amateur film director.
- Also in Burton's Dark Shadows, Chloe Moretz, who previous played a vampire in Let Me In, plays...a werewolf.
- In North, Kelly McGillis has a cameo as an Amish woman and Alexander Gudunov as her husband- they famously played Amish people in Witness.
- Porn stars cast as porn stars (movie edition):
- In Boogie Nights, several porn stars (most notably Nina Hartley) had bit parts in the movie.
- In The Big Lebowski, Asia Carrera had a cameo as one of the actresses in the fictional porn film Logjammin'.
- In Striptease, Pandora Peaks played Demi Moore's stripper friend Urbanna Sprawl.
- In Zack and Miri Make a Porno, porn stars Katie Morgan and Traci Lords play porn stars.
- In Photographing Fairies, Edward Hardwicke plays Arthur Conan Doyle. At the time, Hardwicke was best known as the second Dr. Watson in Granada's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
- In Looney Tunes: Back In Action, Brendan Fraser plays the part of Brendan Fraser's stunt double. Later on, he punches "Brendan Fraser" in the face.
Did you see those Mummy
movies? Yeah, I'm in them more than Bren Fraser is.
- Les Miserables (2012), the most recent film version of the musical, features several of the original stage actors in cameos, most notably Colm Wilkinson (the original Jean Valjean) as the Bishop of Digne, who gives Valjean the candlesticks, Frances Ruffelle (the original Eponine) as "The Most Fabulous Whore" in "Lovely Ladies", Samantha Barks as Eponine (a role she played in the West End production). Also, the casting of Anne Hathaway as Fantine counts because Hathaway's mother was Fantine in the first U.S. national tour of the original stage production.
- Superman The Movie has, in some cuts, a minor scene showing a young Lois Lane riding on a train with her parents. Said parents: Kirk Allen and Noel Neil, who played Superman and Lois Lane in the 1940's serials.
- In the 1951 film Sons of the Musketeers, Porthos Jr is played by Alan Hale Jr. Alan Hale Sr played Porthos in the 1939 film of The Man in the Iron Mask. (Hale Jr would also go on to play Porthos in another film based on the "Man in the Iron Mask" section of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, 1979's The Fifth Musketeer.)
Live Action TV
- Doctor Who:
- A blend of this trope and Real-Life Relative turns up in the episode "The Doctor's Daughter", where the titular character is played by Georgia Moffett, real-life daughter of the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison.
- Derek Jacobi appeared on the show as Professor Yana, who, unknown to everyone (including himself) was actually The Doctor's old nemesis The Master. Jacobi had previously played The Master in an animated Doctor Who story.
- Smallville: The presence of any actor from a previous Superman series, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, etc. There was also Tom Wopat turbing up as an Actor Allusion to John Schneider but the one that takes the biscuit is the (possible unintentional) casting of Annette O'Toole, Lana Lang in Superman III, as Martha Kent (though the crew didn't actually know about her former role when she was cast).
- In the Friends eighth season episode, "The One With The Rumour", Brad Pitt appeared as one of Ross's old high school friends, who hated Rachel to the point that he was president of an Anti-Rachel club in high school. At the time, it was a comic variant of this trope since Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston in real life. The joke became a lot less funny after Aniston and Pitt's very, very public divorce.
- Cameo Version: In an episode of Roseanne, Roseanne and Jackie are getting makeovers at a health spa. The makeup artist talks about "less is more" and letting their faces tell their own story. When she turns around, we see for the first time it was Tammy Faye Bakker.
- Former Power Rangers cast members have come back just to voice a Monster of the Week. The most extreme example is in Power Rangers Samurai, where the Red Ranger's Worthy Opponent is played by Rick Medina, who was himself a Red Ranger in Power Rangers Wild Force.
- Not to mention the irony: The Wild Force Rangers had Zen-Aku, a monster who was sometimes a human due to a curse that made him want to fight the Rangers, but he'd really rather not have. So Medina goes on to play Deker, who's got the same thing going: he's now Samurai's Zen-Aku. (Not that Deker's a total ZA Expy. ZA's a guy bonded with a Duke Org and his memory's not all there; Deker's an immortal Blood Knight who must defeat his Worthy Opponent (or die at his hands) to be freed from it. However, as Deker is a sometimes-human-faced villain who's not all bad, there's more poetry there than if he'd played, say, the voice of Xandred.)
- Wild Force Milestone Celebration episode "Forever Red" is a big example of this as three of the Machine Empire Generals were voiced by Walter Jones (Zack), Catherine Sutherland (Katherine) and Archie Kao (Kai).
- Though Nic Sampson, Power Rangers Mystic Forces Chip, gets MOTW duty once, he also voices Power Rangers Operation Overdrives Sentinel Knight. Chip had once said he hoped to be a knight (which in MF parlance is sort of the rank above Ranger) someday, so he sorta gets to be.
- Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger had the Master of Disguise Shurikenger, who never demorphed (he sacrificed his human form to get his powers and is only seen unsuited as a silhouette in a flashback to that day) but is always at first in disguise as some random civilian. Every single one is another sentai actor. When changing to Shurikenger, most used the pre-changing poses from their show - and even when that was impossible in one case, due to a lack of a pose, Kenji Ohba (he's both Shiro/Battle Kenya and Daigoro/Denji Blue, but the poses you expect these days didn't exist that early on) did the Space Sheriff Gavan pose instead.
- In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Engine Machalcon joins the crew to assist in using the Engine Sentai Go-Onger ultimate power. As a Japanese Pirate crew, the Gokaigers are often compared to the Straw Hats, so who else should voice Machalcon but Hiroaki Hirata aka Sanji!
- Tetsu Inada is one of the series' go-to voice actors, and he played Doggie Kruger, the chief of SPD's Earth branch, in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger. Taking out a Monster of the Week was referred to as "deleting" them that year. So when he played an MOTW in Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger, he says to the other monster, "Let's delete them!" while doing the SPD salute.
- Casting Dean Stockwell to play against Scott Bakula in Star Trek: Enterprise.
- There is an episode of Dragnet, where they meet a priest who explains that they are looking for a plaster doll of the baby Jesus that was taken from the church. So they question the altar boy, and an old man who runs a pawn shop. Maybe ten years later, they do a remake of the show. They get the actor who played the altar boy, to play the priest, and they get the same man to play the part of the pawnbroker.
- In Mission: Impossible, Barney Collier's son Grant is played by Greg Morris's son Phil.
- In the new Battlestar Galactica, casting Richard Hatch (who played Captain Apollo in the original series) being cast as terrorist-cum-politician-cum-dictator Tom Zarek. In the episode he first appears on, both Zarek and Apollo turn their heads when someone calls out "Hey, Apollo!"
- For bonus points, he spends most of his first episode giving breaking speeches to Lee "Apollo" Adama.
- For bonus-bonus points, the armour-piercing lecture was about what it meant to be the Great Captain Adamas son.
- This also works well with the setup that the events of BSG happen over and over again with everyone being reincarnated into a different role every time.
- In that case James Callis as Baltar was just a Dirk Benedict stand-in...
- And Dirk Benedict, Starbuck in the original series, does a great double-take as Faceman in The A Team, when a cylon centurion passes him at the Universal Studios. The moment is preserved in the credit sequence, of course.
- In the Stargate SG-1 episode 200, Vala Mal Doran (played by Claudia Black), when challenged to come up with a more obscure property to rip-off for her movie pitch, launches into a full-blown parody of Farscape which basically consists of the SG-1 cast as the Farscape crew repeating every single one of Farscape's alien curse words in the shortest span possible.
- There's also a slight subversion in that Ben Browder doesn't play Crichton in the parody—Michael Shanks does. Browder plays Stark.
- When Vala and Mitchell first meet, Mitchell asks her if they've met before.
- A rare non-comic example: Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High would often pick which plots happened to who based on the actors' real lives. For instance, 13-year-old-Joey takes a car out for a joyride... after Pat Mastroiani, who played him, really did take the set crew's van out for a joyride. When the writers wanted to do a storyline about a kid losing his parents, they made it happen to Wheels... whose actor, Neil Hope, had lost his father years before. Kathleen was beaten by her abusive boyfriend... and the actress who played her had been date-raped at age 14. (The writers have not said whether they knew that last bit at the time they wrote the abuse story.)
- Tim Curry once guest-starred in an episode of Will And Grace in which he plays a character with a feminine aspect to him (In this case, it's the character's name, Marion) flirts with several characters, makes a reference to Cross Dressing, and even tries to trick one character's fiance into climbing into bed with him. Sounds pretty similar to a certain Sweet Transvestite, doesn't it?
- An episode of the short-lived 1997 series Over The Top had Tim Curry dressing in drag. Now, why does that sound so familiar?
- This is apparently his thing. He and Meatloaf also showed up as a pair of conservative straw-men trying to stop Glee's Rocky Horror production.
- Both versions of The Outer Limits did adaptations of Eando Binder's story "I, Robot", and Leonard Nimoy appeared in both, as a reporter in the original and the robot's lawyer in the remake. Similarly, when the new Outer Limits remade "A Feasibility Study" from the original series, they cast David McCallum, who had been in two episodes of the original (though not that one).
- In an episode of Happy Endings, Brad, played by Damon Wayans Jr., is expecting a visit from his father. When he arrives, he is played by none other than Wayans' father, Damon Wayans, Sr. (In the episode, both Wayans also make reference to the 1990s Bulls. The senior Wayans is close friends with Michael Jordan.)
- The British show Doctors once had a Patient of the Week who was an actor best known for his role as a mysterious time-traveller in a decades-old children's programme. Any plausible deniability that Doctor Who was meant was scotched when they cast Sylvester McCoy, a.k.a. the Seventh Doctor, in the role.
- In Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the head of MI-6 (one the suspects who may be the Russian mole) is played by Michael Aldridge. A few years later, one episode of Yes, Prime Minister had Michael Aldridge as the head of MI-5, bringing Hacker the news that his predecessor had been a Russian mole...
- Although he wasn't in the former.
- In the 2000 ITV telemovie of The Railway Children, Jenny Agutter played the mother. In the 1970 film, she had played the eldest daughter.
- This leads to a truly ironic moment when Jemima Rooper, who plays Roberta, asks her mother "Didn't you use to play on railway lines when you were a kid?"
- F Troop:
- Sergeant O'Rourke is played by Forrest Tucker, who once portrayed an "O'Rourke" Cavalry Sergeant on Gunsmoke.
- Trooper Duffy (Bob Steele) is an elderly cavalryman who claims to be the sole survivor of the Alamo. Steele was previously a 1930s and '40s western star, and had once been in a movie about meeting Davy Crockett at the Alamo.
- In Arrested Development, after firing lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn (played by Henry Winkler), Bob Loblaw is hired and played by Scott Baio, who also replaced Winkler on Happy Days. This is specifically mentioned by Loblaw. Gets even better when you remember Ron Howard is running the show.
- In one episode Barry literally jumps over a shark.
- In the episode where Tobias goes to prison to study a film role, he gets in because the warden is an appreciator of film...and played by James Lipton, who was mocked mercilessly at the end of David Cross' stand-up special The Pride is Back.
- In an episode called "Family Ties", a woman who Michael believes to be his sister (but ultimately isn't) is played by Justine Bateman, Jason Bateman's actual sister. Also, her most famous role was in Family Ties.
- In the 8 Simple Rules episode "Old Flame", an old boyfriend of Cate (Katey Sagal) shows up, played by Ed O'Neill (who played her husband on Married... with Children.)
- George Takei played Rome London on Suite Life On Deck in an episode that parodies Star Trek. He even played a direct descendant of London and acts very much like a young teenage girl.
- In "My Best Friend's Wedding" — the Scrubs episode where Turk and Carla get married — Takei is cast as the priest at their wedding. At first this wouldn't seem to be a casting gag. But then, when Turk gets a call on his cell phone — during the ceremony! — he flips it open like an Original Series communicator. Casting Takei just so they could do that gag may be about the biggest stretch anybody has gone to for a casting gag.
- Turk actually points out earlier in the episode that the preist looks like Sulu.
- Community: French Stewart appeared on the show playing a professional impersonator of French Stewart.
- In My Name Is Earl Burt Reynolds plays the character Big Chubby. His son, Little Chubby, is played by Norm MacDonald: the actor who plays Burt Reynolds in the Saturday Night Live Celebrity Jeopardy skits. In fact, Little Chubby pretty much is the Celebrity Jeopardy version of Burt Reynolds. He even has the same laugh.
- Clive Mantel played Little John in Robin of Sherwood, and so there seems to be this involved in Game of Thrones, where he plays Jon Umber, generally known as The Greatjon.
- Amusingly, in the books at least the Greatjon has a son even bigger than he is who is called Smalljon.
- Casting Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell seems like an example of this. Dormer played Anne Boleyn in The Tudors- Anne is a beautiful young woman whose family is involved in court machinations, has a close bond with her gay brother, and ultimately finds herself tried for promiscuity before a Kangaroo Court. Margaery is a beautiful young woman whose family is involved in court machinations, has a close bond with her gay brother... (you get the point) This is likely a deliberate choice as Margaery and the Tyrells are a sort of heroic subversion of the type of scheming and debauched royals who get HBO series (i.e. The Boleyns and Margaery's rival Cersei/The Lannister family).
- Sesame Street had a recurring sketch that parodied Miami Vice as Miami Mice. The American sketches in the German Sesamstrasse were dubbed by the same studio as Miami Vice, so the voice artists who already played Crocket and Tubbs played their rodent equivilents.
- Porn stars cast as porn stars (live TV edition):
- Savanna Samson has appeared as a porn star on two TV series where Tina Fey was head writer. In a 2006 episode of Saturday Night Live, she was in the gag commercial for a porno called "101 Fellations". Three years later in the 30 Rock episode titled "Into the Crevasse", she played "Porn Liz" in Tracy's Rule 34 porn video of the show.
- In the Dutch soap opera Goede tijden, slechte tijden, one character, played by Ferry Doedens, is currently looking for tickets to go see Wicked. In real life, Ferry plays Fiyero part of the time.
- All over the place on Chuck. Fedak and Schwartz made an effort to squeeze in appearances by as many geek culture icons as was humanly possible over the series's run, and you can expect that there will be an Actor Allusion along the way. Some notable ones:
- Cyndi Lauper played Avalon, a psychic in the Bones episode "Harbingers in the Fountain", as well as the show's 150th episode, "The Ghost In the Machine". In an earlier episode, "The Wannabe In the Weeds", Brennan sang a rousing chorus of Cyndi's biggest hit, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun".
- Amber Benson, who played witch Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, later played a Vegetarian Vampire on Supernatural.
- Mercedes McNab also played a vampire, after having played one on Buffy and Angel.
- Cate Blanchett is currently playing the title character in an Australian production of Richard II. Richard and Queen Elizabeth I have famously been compared—Elizabeth herself allegedly even said "I am Richard II; know ye not that?"
- Anne Hathaway's just-announced role as the lead in the Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night might also qualify, though it's more of a casting pun.
- They should make a movie about Shakespeare's life just so they can cast Anne Hathaway as Anne Hathaway.
- In Hamlet Polonious has a line about having played Julius Caesar as a a student. This has led to speculation that the actor playing Polonious did indeed play Julius Caesar...and that the same actor played both Brutus and Hamlet, therefore killing Polonious twice.
- Jesse L. Martin, the original Collins in Rent, was in the Rock Opera Bright Lights Big City as the protagonist's best friend, who expressed disdain for "yuppies" and enjoyed using certain, um, recreational substances.
- Darren Criss, known for playing Harry in A Very Potter Musical, is to eventually take over Daniel Radcliffe's role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
- Is that a casting gag or just unintentional? It's still awesome anyway.
- Arsenic And Old Lace inverted this in the original stage version. The psychotic older brother berates his surgical henchman because someone said he looked like Boris Karloff. In the original Broadway cast, he was played by Boris Karloff. As the production was still making money at the time the film was set to be produced, the stage producers wouldn't allow Karloff out of his contract long enough to appear in the film version, and so the film producers had to make do with a heavily-made-up Raymond Massey.
- Who's that playing übercapitalist Andrew Ryan in BioShock? Why it's Armin Shimerman, who you might remember as Quark the Ferengi from Deep Space 9!
- Shimerman also voiced one the of the villains from the Ratchet & Clank series - the main rival of a character named 'Qwark'.
- While Patrick Stewart playing the king may qualify as an Actor Allusion in The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion, the casting of Lynda Carter (famous for playing Wonder Woman) as the voices of the female Orcs and Nords certainly qualifies.
- The Grand Theft Auto series is rife with this trope, with Samuel L. Jackson, Ice-T and Peter Fonda in San Andreas, Phillip Michael Thomas, Jenna Jameson and Burt Reynolds in Vice City, and Michael Madsen, Robert Loggia and Joe Pantoliano in GTA III, as well as pretty much every DJ on every radio station ever since III.
- James Woods as a jittery, paranoid goverment agent sure seems to fit.
- Nathan Fillion voices the main character in Halo 3: ODST. Who plays his character's ex-girlfriend (and boss)? His ex-girlfriend Tricia Helfer. Who plays his squad mates? Alan Tudyk [and Adam Baldwin.
- Gary Oldman as the Russian Commander Reznov in Call of Duty World at War. Oldman had previously played the Russian terrorist Ivan Korshunov in Air Force One. His American counterpart is voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, of 24 fame. Sutherlands's previous voice-acting job was as the American general W.R. Monger in Monsters vs. Aliens.
- In Call of Duty: Black Ops, Ed Harris plays a CIA agent in the 1960's involved in many missions in Southeast Asia. In The Rock, he played an Marine general who was famous for his black ops exploits in 1960's southeast asia.
- Male protagonist Joshua Radcliff of Super Robot Wars Destiny will be voiced by Yuuichi Nakamura in the Second Super Robot Wars Original Generation. This means players will see a robot-piloting Tomoya Okazaki (since both Tomoya and Joshua have blue hair and near-similar hairstyle), surrounded by Gundam lookalikes (Nakamura's role in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is Graham Aker who memetically shouts "I LOVE YOU, GUNDAM!!"), fighting creatures empowered by despair (making him an anti-Hazama), alongside an orange-haired younger sister that can't be this cute. For bonus gag, said sister is to be voiced by Tomoyo Sakagami's seiyuu.
- In Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, Mark Hamill plays Master Eraqus, one of the few remaining masters of an ancient, inter-world knighthood with distinctive and iconic weapons. He is struck down halfway through the game by one of his pupils who embrace the darkness in his heart, but has appeared to transcend death, at least for the time being.
- The God Of War series did this twice: Perseus is voiced by Harry Hamlin and Hercules is voiced by Kevin Sorbo, roles the actors previously played in the original Clash of the Titans and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys respectively.
- Mass Effect 2: Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) voices the Normandy's AI, EDI. In Mass Effect 3 she gets a sexy female robot platform to travel around in. Several of her conversations have comments that are obvious references to her role as a Cylon, including at least once when she specifically says "By your command."
- In the Japanese version of Mugen Souls, the protagonist Chou Chou (voiced by Yukari Tamura), conquers and makes friends with everyone through the power of making them obey her. Does that remind you of someone?
- Nolan North voice acts as DC Comics' Deathstroke the Terminator in Injustice Gods Among Us. Now Nolan is the go-guy to voice Marvel Comics' Deadpool, and he was actually based on Deathstroke before they decided that Deadpool is the ultimate wacky fourth wall breaker. Hammering it home, Deathstroke's taunt in that game is similar's to Deadpool's "TAUNT BUTTON!" pose in Marvel Vs Capcom 3
- In Thundercats 2011 Snarf has gone from the original's Talking Animal Non-Human Sidekick with a Verbal Tic to a Team Pet who can only Pokémon Speak. His voice actress is Satomi Koorogi, who voiced Togepi and Pichu in the anime of Pokémon.
- Larry Kenney, the voice of Lion-O in the original series returns to voice Claudus, Lion-o's father. Which means he also gets to be the first to say "Thunder! Thunder!! Thunder-cats! HOOOOOOOO!!"
- We now have Jim Cummings, the voice of Tigger and many other cat like characters, as Caspin, a member of the Tiger clan.
- Casting director Andrea Romano seems to have set a few of these up for the DCAU: Rob Zombie voicing evil god Ichthultu in Justice League Unlimited, Billie Hayes playing witchy Mother Mae-Eye in Teen Titans, and (most amusingly), George Lazenby as the latest King in the Royal Flush Gang in Batman Beyond:
- Not to mention Nathan Fillion as Vigilante... a cowboy who flies a spaceship with Gina Torres' character, Vixen. Vigilante is also very unhappy about the events of a previous episode's war-scale crisis.
- Also Arte Johnson was brought in as Virman Vundabar, who voiced him essentially as his Wolfgang character from Laugh-In, complete with a "Very interesting ..."
- Another joke was the casting of the Royal Flush Gang (Justice League version). All of the voice actors cast were the ones that played the principal characters in Teen Titans.
- A somewhat obscure but particularly clever example of this was casting Fred Savage and Jason Hervey (the brothers from The Wonder Years) as Hawk and Dove, only reversing the relationship dynamic by casting Savage as Hawk and Hervey as Dove.
- Legend has it originally Savage and Hervey had the opposite roles, but for one take they decided to switch characters, and the director decided it worked better.
- She's brought in Adam West and Julie Newmar to play the Waynes alongside Batman The Animated Series alumni Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy and Richard Moll as The Spectre, The Phantom Stranger and Lew Moxon for the Batman The Brave And The Bold episode "Chill of the Night". Especially poetic since the Phantom Stranger (Conroy, who played Batman before) wants Batman to remain a force for justice and the Spectre (Hamill, who played the Joker before) who wanted him to become a merciless killer of criminals; they were gambling for his soul at the time.
- Arguably the best casting gag of the DCAU was when Adam West was cast to play a washed up, Type Cast actor by the name of Simon Trent, who prior resents his role as a live-action TV hero.
- In the tie in comic Batman Adventures, an in-universe example occurred as Bruce Wayne had some creative control in producing a new Grey Ghost movie and chose Simon Trent to play the mayor.
- Henry Rollins, an anti-authoritarian and passionate rock musician, was cast as Mad Stan, an anti-authoritarian and passionate anarchist with a penchant for high explosives.
- In Batman The Animated Series, Thomas Wayne is voiced by Richard Moll; who also voiced Harvey Dent and was one of Bruce's few friends in Gotham. Another gag is seen by the roles of Martha Wayne and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (both of which are some of the most important women in Bruce's life; judging from The Cat and the Claw) played by Adrienne Barbeau.
- In the Batman Beyond 2-parter "The Call" which featured the Justice League, Christopher MacDonald voiced the older Superman; MacDonald also notably voiced Superman's father Jor-El. There's also another gag in the episode with the aquatic heroine Aquagirl, who's voiced by Jodi Benson of The Little Mermaid fame.
- For Justice League The Flashpoint Paradox, we've got C. Thomas Howell as Professor Zoom and Danny Huston as Sam Lane. Considering the comic it's based on, this basically means George Foyet and William Stryker have decided to replace Aaron Hotchner and Wolverine as the targets of their respective torments with the Flash and Superman.
- The Batman has this as well, but with a twist - past actors but not who you'd expect. Superman is voiced by George Newbern, the Justice League Unlimited Superman rather than the Superman The Animated Series Superman, and he's played in the style of the Christopher Reeve Superman. The Flash is voiced by Charlie Schlatter, who played him in a single S:TAS episode, rather than Michael Rosenbaum, who played him in JL/JLU (and a whole lot more.)
- Just before the resurgence of superhero movies stated above, Stan Lee has already been making cameo appearances in assorted Marvel Comics animated series, specifically the Spider-Man ones. The first season of Spectacular Spider-Man, already has this covered. Of special note is his cameo in the 90s Fox Kid's Spider-Man - as himself, when Spider-Man travels to an alternate universe, implied to be ours, where Spider-Man is a comic book character. He's also the janitor in Ultimate Spider-Man and the mayor in The Super Hero Squad Show.
Stan Lee (90s Spider-Man 'toon finale): Now how do I get down from here... Maybe the Fantastic Four will swing by...
- Also of note, Joan Clayton Lee, Stan Lee's wife, played the voice of Madame Web in that series. So naturally, writer Stan finds Madame Web quite interesting in the finale.
- Ed Asner was famous for his role as news editor Lou Grant (a character very similar to J Jonah Jameson) in MTM Enterprises' shows. He was eventually cast as JJ in this show.
- Gargoyles does this a lot with Star Trek. The original two antagonists were members of the TNG cast, and over the course of the series seven other primary cast members from across four Star Trek series appeared on the show, many of them in reoccurring roles.
- David Hyde Pierce playing the role of Cecil, Sideshow Bob's brother on The Simpsons (alluding to the show Frasier, in which he played Kelsey Grammer's brother). In a later episode, Bob and Cecil's dad was voiced by John Mahoney, who played Frasier and Niles' dad on Frasier.
- In Brother Bear the goofy Canadian moose brothers are played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas - the goofy Candian brothers from Strange Brew and SCTV.
- G.I. Joe and Transformers, both being Hasbro-produced Merchandise Driven series, tend to have a few of these. G.I. Joe has Corey Burton and Michael Bell playing twins Tomax and Xamot. Transformers has them as twins Sunstreaker and Sideswipe. Many actors who have played Starscream have also played the Cobra Commander, Tom Kenny, Doug Parker, Steve Blum, and Sam Riegel being the only exceptions.
- Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters of the Herd Kind casts Gillian Anderson as the invading alien queen.
- When the JLA-expies, the Squadron Supreme, appeared on The Super Hero Squad Show, Adam West (who played Batman in the 60s TV series and the last two seasons of Super Friends) and Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman on Justice League and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse) were cast in the respective roles of Batman-expy Nighthawk and Wonder Woman-expy Power Princess.
- John Ratzenberger is the only actor to appear in every single Pixar movie.
- When Pat Buttram still worked for Disney, he is always cast as some sort of dog with a Southern accent. Except in The Rescuers, where he was cast as a rat with a Southern accent.
- Julie Lemieux has voiced two different (male) bat characters with a fairly similar voice: Sleepy Bat on Birdz and Batty on Almost Naked Animals a good 13 years later.
- Grey DeLisle plays two different feline characters named Kitty: one on Tuff Puppy and the other on Danger Rangers.
- Gilbert Gottfried actually voiced at least three obnoxious birds. (The third being the Aflac duck.)
- In The Legend of Korra, a character named Asami is voiced by one Seychelle Gabriel, who played Princess Yue in the film. Expect to hear a line about beliefs.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000," one of the villains trying to trick the Apple family out of their farm is voiced by Sam Vincent, who has had previous experience pulling off scams.
- And Discord, a very chaotic Trickster God type, is voiced by John De Lancie, aka Q.
- When Phineas And Ferb went to Hawaii, the hotel manager was voiced by Phill Lewis, who also plays a hotel manager on some other Disney Channel shows. And since Candace decides to take time off from busting her brothers, he becomes the one running around trying to stop two boys from causing havoc...
- When the celebrity voice actors were replaced in the transition from the Madagascar films to The Penguins of Madagascar, celebrity voice actor Sacha Baron Cohen (the voice of King Julien) was replaced by Danny Jacobs. Jacobs previously played an impersonation of Cohen's Borat character in Epic Movie.
- Alyssa Milano was cast as Poison Ivy in Young Justice - Milano starred in Poison Ivy II: The Seduction.
- An episode of The Venture Brothers featured Hank becoming a Robin-like teen sidekick to a superhero named Captain Sunshine. Who voiced Sunshine? Kevin Conroy. Though interestingly enough, the hero is more of a Superman parody despite the sidekick relation.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes has Bucky share a voice actor with the Kid Sidekick, Robin, from Teen Titans. Of course, TT Robin is a leader and no one's sidekick anymore.
- Kim Possible had "The Fearless Ferrett" have Ron Stoppable as the next "Fearless Ferret," a in-joke in that Ron's VA, Will Friedle, voiced Terry McGinnis as the Future Batman in Batman Beyond. The first Fearless Ferrett, Timothy North, was voiced by Adam West. When Mr. North saw Kim, he then mused about "Ferret Girl"...then called her "Ferret Girl" again when he seems Kim again when The White Stripe tries to take on Ron.
- The title of the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Gadget Goes Hawaiian" is an obvious play on Gidget Goes Hawaiian, the second Gidget film. Gadget's Hawaiian Identical Stranger, Lahwhinie, was voiced by Deborah Walley, who played Gidget in that film.
- In Sanjay And Craig, title character Sanjay Patel is voiced by Maulik Pancholy, who previously played a character of the same name on Weeds.