An actor for a ShowWithinAShow [[ShownTheirWork researches the role of a special profession]] by shadowing his RealLife counterpart. The counterpart is often annoyed at the presence of the actor, whom he feels is getting in the way of his work. Expect ThisIsReality {{lampshading}} when the shadow realizes that the real job isn't like it is in the movies. Sometimes ends with a promise to change the movie's script to better reflect reality.

Less frequently, the shadow is a writer or a director.

This is a common stock plot on [[CrimeAndPunishmentSeries cop shows]], where the usual course of action involves the actor overstepping their bounds as an observer, then [[AnAesop learning a lesson]] about how law enforcement is a hard job and shouldn't be attempted by someone who doesn't know what he's doing.

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!Examples:
[[AC: {{Film}}]]
* ''Film/TheHardWay'': An action movie from 1991 starring MichaelJFox and James Woods, in which an action movie star shadows a police detective for research so he will be taken more seriously as an actor.
* ''Film/IntoTheSun'', starring Michael Pare and Anthony Michael Hall, had a Hollywood actor shadowing a fighter pilot stationed in the Middle East to "get a feel" for being a fighter pilot. The actor gets to learn far more than he planned to when the plane he is riding with the fighter pilot in unexpectedly gets into a dogfight and is shot down, forcing the two to help each other survive and escape.
* In ''Film/MyFavoriteYear'' there's a movie actor who prepares for his roles by imitating real people. In one scene he's sitting in on a discussion between a Mafia don and some movie exec, and the don is getting irritated by the actor constantly imitating his mannerisms.
* ''Film/{{Showtime}}'', starring Creator/EddieMurphy and Creator/RobertDeNiro. This one put a slight twist on it as Eddie Murphy's character ''was'' a cop, but was more interested in launching an acting career, while De Niro's character was frustrated that Murphy did not take his police duties seriously
* ''Film/SouthlandTales'' has action star Boxer researching the role of a racist cop by riding along with Taverner (who is actually pretending to be both racist and a cop).
* In ''Film/TropicThunder'', extreme method actor Kirk Lazarus mentions at one point having prepped for his third Oscar winning role by working in a Beijing textile factory for 8 months.
* In ''Film/DickieRobertsFormerChildStar'', when Rob Reiner asks whether he had seen Dickie valet parking at a restaurant (Dickie's "day job"), Dickie confirms he was but claims he was doing research for a role in a movie titled "Valet Parking".

[[AC:{{Literature}}]]
* In ''[[Literature/HelpImTrapped Help! I'm Trapped in a Movie Star's Body]]'', the eponymous movie star tags along after the OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent protagonist.
* In "Out of the Night When the Full Moon Is Bright" by Creator/KimNewman, the protagonist is a writer who's riding along in an LAPD squad car as research for a screenplay. (The usual course of the stock plot, however, gets derailed after a werewolf shows up.)

[[AC:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Castle}}''
** The entire premise of the series, in which mystery writer Richard Castle, author of the ''Nikki Heat'' series, follows Detective Kate Beckett around at her job in the NYPD.
** Also features in the episode "Nikki Heat", where Natalie Rhodes, who will play Nikki in the movie adaptation, shadows Beckett for a case as well.
* An episode of ''Series/MartialLaw'' had this. Interestingly, despite the show being a ClicheStorm it more or less deconstructed this trope, with the actor being admonished for doing something heroic (intervening to save them, since he was a civilian) and gets lectured again when he has a breakdown and goes on an IAmNotSpock rant at the victim of the week.
* One episode of ''Series/MidsomerMurders'' had an actor boyfriend of Cully's riding along with Barnaby and Jones to research the role of a detective sergeant. It's a comment of his that gives Barnaby the EurekaMoment.
* ''Series/{{Monk}}'' once had an actor following him around. He's such a method actor that he disappears completely into the role of Monk, ultimately attempting to kill a man he's convinced killed Monk's wife.
* On ''Series/NewsRadio'' Creator/JamesCaan meets with Bill to research for a role as a newscaster. Bill tries too hard to suck up to him, while Caan becomes increasingly fascinated with Matthew instead.
* The ''Series/SledgeHammer'' episode ''Hammer gets Nailed'' had Hammer and Dori being followed not by an actor but by a TV reporter for research.
* ''Series/TequilaAndBonetti'' had one episode with that premise.
* ''Series/TheXFiles'' episode "Hollywood A.D." had a movie director instead of actors following Mulder and Scully on an investigation. He was an old buddy of A.D. Skinner from college which explains why he was allowed to follow them and why Mulder and Scully couldn't tell him to get lost.
* ''Series/ForeverKnight'': In "Amateur Night," an actress shadows police detectives Nick and Schanke to research for a movie role. She ends up getting too involved in the case, putting herself and others in danger. In a humorous parallel, Schanke learns more about the movie business and decides he wants to purse an acting career.
* ''Series/SueThomasFBEye'': In the two-parter "The Actor" and "Planes, Trains & Automobiles," the movie star Adam Kinsey shadows FBI agents as they investigate a possible terrorist threat. He constantly questions their actions, and the one time they agree to his request (cuffing a suspect's hands in front rather than behind her back) it ends badly (she is now able to take poison and kill herself). Reinforces the show's usual [[AnAesop Aesop]] about how law enforcement knows best and is doing the right thing, even if their reasoning is not readily apparent to an outsider.
* ''Series/{{CSI}}'''s "I Like To Watch" had a TV crew following the [=CSIs=]. This presented many opportunities to hang some lampshades on the show's familiar tropes; the crew mentions that "beautiful people solving crimes" was a good idea for a show, Hodges bemoans that TheCSIEffect makes his job look less difficult (taking something that took him a lot of manhours and compressing into a few moments), and when Grissom makes his usual quip, the crew requests that he say it again, [[QuipToBlack this time to the camera]].
* ''Series/YoureTheWorst'': In "What Normal People Do" [[ShellShockedVeteran Edgar]] meets and then hangs out with three friendly veterans. Turned out they were actors doing research for a role.
* ''Series/HermansHead''. An actor works with Herman to fulfill this trope. He starts imitating everything Herman does, much to his irritation, so Herman starts to act in an increasingly ridiculous manner, dancing around the room with the actor following, ending with Herman poised in a ballet position. Unfortunately Herman's boss walks in; the actor quickly pretends to be busy reading a file while the unknowing Herman is still imitating a ballerina.

[[AC: VideoGames]]
* VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird has [[IdiotHero Josh Birk]], star of an [[ShowWithinAShow in-universe parody of]] {{Twilight}}, who kicks off the plot by [[IdiotBall getting the Saints arrested]]. He is later kidnapped to publicly humiliate [[StateSec STAG]], [[spoiler: and can possibly be unlocked as a LethalJokeCharacter]].

[[AC: WesternAnimation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** In one episode, James Woods researches the job of a Kwik-E-Mart employee as a reference to ''The Hard Way''.
** Another episode had Mr. Burns hire MichaelCaine to impersonate Homer in order to convince Bart that he (Homer) didn't love him (Bart) any more. Later in the episode Homer [[BrickJoke mentions]] that Caine had followed him around trying to get a handle on his character.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Archer}}'': A Hollywood actress who is going to be playing a spy tags along with ISIS agents to get into character. [[spoiler:It turns out she's a Russian sleeper agent and kills some political ambassador while Archer and Lana aren't taking her seriously. She was sad about her movie career but consoled herself with the fact that she could be a Russian movie superstar.]]

[[AC: RealLife]]
* Creator/DustinHoffman spent a year working with autistic men and their families to understand their complex relationships as a preparation for his role in ''RainMan''.
* For the film ''Flm/{{Ray}}'', Creator/JamieFoxx studied Music/RayCharles to better mimic him. After a few weeks he stopped visiting Ray saying that a 73-year-old Ray Charles couldn't help him in portraying a 19-year-old Ray Charles, up until age 49, by the movie's ending.
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