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  • 1941: In the beginning of the film, a woman goes skinny-dipping in the ocean in the early morning and is startled and embarrassed when a Japanese submarine surfaces beneath her and she's caught on the periscope. The character is played by Susan Backlinie, and was cast by Steven Spielberg partly because she was a good swimmer and trained stuntwoman who didn't mind getting naked and partly because she'd played Chrissie in Jaws, where her character went skinny-dipping in the early morning only to be eaten by a shark.
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  • A Bad Moms Christmas: Amy's family loudly complains at her mom dragging all of them to the Russian The Nutcracker, which is entirely in Russian, as no one speaks it. Her mom also later remarks "What are we, Jewish?" speaking about their Christmas tradition. Mila Kunis, who plays Amy, is a Russian-speaking Jew.
  • 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. Finally, when Murdock has to be taken off the co-pilot seat after suffering food poisoning, he is revealed to be wearing his basketball shorts and shoes.
    • 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.
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    • 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!
    • Building on the above, Barbara Billingsley makes a memorable cameo as a Granny Classic who "speaks jive" and translates two Black men's speech for a stewardess ("Just hang loose, blood, she gonna catch you up on the rebound on the med side"). Billingsley was best known for her ultra-wholesome role as June Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver, a far cry from a jive-talking grandmother; perhaps intentionally, her Airplane! character is even wearing a pearl necklace, which was June's trademark accessory.
  • For the 2014 film adaptation of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Alexander is played by Australia-based child actor Ed Oxenbould. In the original book, Alexander, fed up with how terrible his day has been so far, insists on moving to Australia.
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  • In Already Tomorrow In Hong Kong Josh (Bryan Greenberg) guesses wrongly that Ruby comes from San Francisco (actually Los Angeles). Jamie Chung really is from San Francisco. Josh also tries to convince her to split up with her fiance for him. Bryan is her actual husband.
  • Alto: Nicolette says Frankie is good enough a singer to get on American Idol. In fact, her actress Diana DeGarmo did get on in 2004, finishing in second place.
  • In Angel (1984), the aging and largely forgotten cowboy actor Kit Carson is played by the aging and largely forgotten cowboy actor Rory Calhoun (and he is awesome).
  • Another Me: Like her character Fay, actress Sophie Turner had a twin who died in utero.
  • In Ant-Man, Garrett Morris plays the driver in the car that Scott Lang lands on during his trial run with the suit. When Morris was a cast member on Saturday Night Live, he played Ant-Man in a famous skit where several Marvel and DC superheroes have a party. Because of Ant-Man's relative obscurity, Morris was actually the first actor ever to portray the character in live-action — and he remained the only actor ever to do so until Paul Rudd took the role in this film.
  • In Aquaman, Black Manta's father is played by Michael Beach, who previously voiced Devil Ray, Black Manta's Suspiciously Similar Substitute, in Justice League Unlimited.
  • In Avatar, Sigourney Weaver fights to protect the aliens. And the film is by the same director of Aliens.
  • Avengers: Infinity War:
  • In Back to the Future Part III, Mary Steenburgen stars as Clara Clayton, a 19th century woman who falls in love with a time-traveler from the 20th century, the opposite of her role in Time After Time, where she played a 20th century woman who falls in love with a time-traveler from the 19th century. What's better is her film debut had been in Goin' South, a western-comedy where she was also wooed by Christopher Lloyd.
  • In Battle Beyond the Stars Robert Vaughn plays the Recycled IN SPACE! version of his character from The Magnificent Seven (1960).
  • In Battle Royale, Takeshi Kitano, the host of the game show Takeshi's Castle, plays Kitano, a teacher who hosts the titular Battle Royale.
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017): LeFou is heavily implied to be gay, is extremely flamboyant, and has eyes for the ultra-manly Gaston. In reality, LeFou's actor Josh Gad is straight, while Gaston is played by the openly-gay Luke Evans.
  • The Believer: Carla, Danny's girlfriend, is played by Summer Phoenix, who's Jewish (as her mother was born to Jewish parents), though has never practiced Judaism. Her character starts out as a Neo-Nazi, while involved with Danny (a secret self-hating Jew), gets drawn to Judaism and starts practicing the religion.
  • Betrayed: Ted Levine, a Jewish actor, plays the character Wes who is part of a highly antisemitic far-right group.
  • In The Big Lebowski, porn star Asia Carrera had a cameo as one of the actresses in the fictional porn film Logjammin'.
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance):
  • Blades of Glory manages to make incest both funny and pretty much a foregone conclusion by casting (then) real-life husband and wife Will Arnett and Amy Poehler as fraternal twins Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg.
  • The Bling Ring likewise has Emma Watson - the most famous actress amongst a cast of unknowns - playing a superficial teen who desperately wants to be famous.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody:
    • Mike Myers, whose breakout role in Wayne's World helped re-popularize the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" after Freddie Mercury's death, has a part in the film as EMI executive Ray Foster who is skeptical of releasing it in the first place.
      • The in-joke (and one of the reasons Myers was keen to take this role) was that the producers of 'Wayne's World' initially resisted having this song in the movie.
    • Aidan Gillen, whose most famous role is Littlefinger on Game of Thrones, plays a character who is removed from his position through the scheming of a sleazy, manipulative abuser.
    • Freddie Mercury was a famous cat lover and owned several, while Rami Malek is allergic to them. This is why you never see Freddie together with them in the same shot.
  • In Boogie Nights, several porn stars (most notably Nina Hartley) had bit parts in the movie.
  • 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.
    • In the second novel, Bridget Jones interviews Colin Firth for a newspaper article.
  • In Camp Takota, Hannah Hart plays Alison, the camp chef, a nod to the fact that she's best known for her youtube series My Drunk Kitchen. Cooking turns out to be more central to her character when it turns out Alison was accepted to a prestigious culinary school, but kept working at the camp because she was nervous about how she'd do there. At one point, her character also makes a bad food pun (holding up a vegetable peeler and mentioning that working in the kitchen can be "una-peeling"), which is also a frequent My Drunk Kitchen occurrence.
  • In The 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.
  • Conrad Veidt, an outspoken anti-fascist who fled Germany when the Nazis came to power, spent the war playing Nazi villains in America, most famously as Major Strasser in Casablanca.
  • Cinderella (2015):
    • Lily James plays the servant to Sophie McShera, the reverse of their roles on Downton Abbey.
    • Likewise, Richard Madden plays a royalty who falls in love with a girl considered below his social status, just like his role on Game of Thrones, except this time it has a Happy Ending. Interestingly, his character's name is Kit, just like the actor who plays his on-screen half-brother (actually cousin) in the same show.
  • Kristen Stewart, who has been dogged by paparazzi since her appearances in Twilight, plays a personal assistant who loves reading gossip in Clouds of Sils Maria.
  • 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."
  • Contact: Rob Lowe was already known for his liberal causes when he was cast as Richard Rank, head of the Conservative Coalition.
  • Cry_Wolf: Mr. Walker, who is played by Jon Bon Jovi, ends up killed by being shot through the heart.
  • Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life: The mother in this Lifetime Movie of the Week who screams at her teenage son for looking at super-softcore internet "pornography" and desperately tries to get him to stop is played by Kelly Lynch, who is known for doing numerous nude scenes in different movies. Then again, the idea of her son having A Date with Rosie Palms while looking at naked pictures of her would explain her behavior a bit...
  • Is it just a coincidence that Nestor Carbonell, who played Mayor Anthony Garcia in the Batman films The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, also played a character called "Batmanuel" in The Tick (2001)?
  • Also, in The Dark Knight Rises, Matthew Modine plays Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley. Modine also played a character nicknamed "Joker" in the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket.
  • In Tim Burton's Dark Shadows, Chloë Grace Moretz, who previously played a vampire in Let Me In, plays...a werewolf.
  • Dogma memorably cast George Carlin—a famously outspoken atheist who was known for frequently mocking the Catholic Church—as a high-ranking Catholic Cardinal.
  • In Drive (2011), actual porn stars Andy San Dimas and Bobbi Starr show up as strippers. The director originally wanted a porn star to play Blanche, who was implied to be one (or a stripper, at least), but was unable to find one who he considered a good enough actor for the role.
  • Sean Young appears in both Dune (1984) and Dune (2021)'s Mockbuster Planet Dune.
  • Sharlto Copley as an Ax-Crazy mercenary hunting the hero in Elysium, a reversal from his role in District 9. Invoked, as Copley wasn't interested in playing essentially the same character again.
  • 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.
  • Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga: Will Ferrell's character does not believe in elves until he is seemingly helped by them later on. This is hilariously ironic considering that he previously played a man raised by elves.
  • Carrie Fisher, Billy 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.
  • Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort play a couple in The Fault in Our Stars and siblings in Divergent. These two books/films also have a very large rivalry.
  • In A Fish Called Wanda, George Thomason is played by Tom Georgeson.
  • 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 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.
  • Freaky Friday (2003) wanted to do this with Jodie Foster, who played the daughter in the original 1976 Freaky Friday, now playing the mother. However, she declined the role and it went to Jamie Lee Curtis instead.
  • 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.
  • Matt Damon as the hero and Greg Kinnear as the Big Bad in Green Zone. Both had previously starred as conjoined twins in the Farrelly Brothers comedy Stuck on You.
  • invoked Jamie Chung played two characters called Amber in back-to-back films - Grown Ups and Sucker Punch.
  • Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later has a great example. It has Janet Leigh, most famous for her role in Psycho, in a small role as a school secretary. She is working for the head of the school played by Jamie Lee Curtis. Leigh is Curtis' real-life mother. Leigh turns to Curtis and says, "If I may be maternal for a moment..." as the camera pulls back to reveal Leigh's car. The car is the same one she drove in Psycho.
  • Happiest Season: Openly gay actor Victor Garber plays Harper's straight dad, whom she's reluctant in coming out to as a lesbian.
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle:
    • Kal Penn, playing an unrepentant stoner, has said that he actually has zero interest in marijuana and has never tried it.
    • Neil Patrick Harris, an openly gay man, as a deviant over-the-top heterosexual.
  • Harry Potter:
    • 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.
    • Also in Half-Blood Prince, Lord Voldemort's child self is played by Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, nephew to Ralph Fiennes who portrays the character's adult incarnation.
    • 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.
  • In the film version of Hello, Dolly!, Louis Armstrong plays the bandleader at the Astoria Gardens restaurant, singing a verse of the titular number alongside Barbra Streisand. Armstrong's cover of "Hello, Dolly" was his biggest hit, making his cameo a tribute to his long career (he died only two years after the film premiered).
  • 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.
  • Hot Fuzz casts Edward Woodward as the equivalent of his antagonists from The Wicker Man (1973)
  • From The Hunger Games: Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) and Alexander Ludwig (Cato) fight it out after both appearing in movies where they had close relationships with AnnaSophia Robb. Hutcherson as her best friend in Bridge to Terabithia and Ludwig as her brother in Race to Witch Mountain.
  • Indiana Jones:
  • Inside Llewyn Davis revolves around the titular character, a struggling folk singer in the 1960s, dealing with the pain of languishing in obscurity while his former partner Jim Berkey strikes it big as a solo artist. Berkey is played by Justin Timberlake, who was—rather famously—the only member of *NSYNC who managed to strike it big as a solo artist after the band's breakup.
  • Matthew McConaughey's role in Interstellar seems to be a nod to his previous role as Jodie Foster's love interest in Contact, a very similar film that was based on the writings of Carl Sagan (a very close friend and colleague of Kip Thorne, whose work Interstellar was based on).
  • In the 1986 remake of Invaders From Mars, the police chief, played by Jimmy Hunt, is informed by David that something weird was going on at the old gravel pit. In the 1953 original, Jimmy Hunt played the role of David. The chief even makes a comment that he hadn't been up to the gravel pit since he was a boy.
  • 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 Marvel 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, a real-life comics fan, 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 (though his scene didn't make it to the final cut).
    • 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 then Sherlock Holmes, who had a bit of a thing for cocaine.
  • 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 Spider-Man Trilogy to the X-Men Film Series. Usually, he's just being heroic, but he got to play a character he created, Willie Lumpkin, in the Fox Fantastic Four (2005) movie. He was a miss pageant judge in Iron Man 3. Truly a hero to the good old US of A. :)
  • It (2017), a period horror film set in The '80s based on a Stephen King novel, prominently features teenage actor Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier. Wolfhard is best known for his role as Mike Wheeler in Stranger Things, a period horror series set in The '80s and inspired by (among other things) the works of Stephen King. Season 1, in particular, seems to have been heavily inspired by It, another story about a band of misfit friends confronting a malevolent monster in small-town America.
  • James Bond:
  • In JFK (taken from the perspective of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, who had long alleged there was a Government Conspiracy behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy); we have an interesting version of this when Jim Garrison himself makes a brief cameo as Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, the namesake of the commission investigating the Kennedy assassination and which ended with the official "Oswald acted alone" determination.
  • Jojo Rabbit:
    • Taika Waititi plays an imaginary Adolf Hitler. On top of the rather obvious Fake Nationality, Waititi has Jewish ancestry and has even used his mother's very Jewish maiden name (Cohen) professionally.
    • Scarlett Johansson plays Rosie, who has Nazi-preferred "Aryan" looks while actually being with the German Resistance and hiding a Jewish girl in her house. Johansson herself is Jewish.
  • Mila Kunis, a Ukrainian woman, as a Russian immigrant in Jupiter Ascending, which is doubly darkly hilarious due to the quasi-war between the two states. Her family though are Russian-speaking Jews, making it a bit more complicated (Jews are considered a separate ethnicity in both countries).
  • The live-action adaptation of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War cast Aoi Koga (who voiced Kaguya in the anime) as a movie theater employee.
  • In The Kid Who Would Be King, Patrick Stewart plays Merlin. Stewart had previously played a role in Excalibur a different film about King Arthur.
  • Knives Out:
    • Daniel Craig also played an investigator who at least partially investigated Christopher Plummer, who hired him, for the murder of a family member in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).
    • Ransom is the only Thrombey member Harlan's dogs bark at, which they only do to those they deem strangers; given his Establishing Character Moment and that he's been estranged from the rest of the family for some time, it's also implied he doesn't treat them well either. Chris Evans however is a well-known dog lover.
    • Jaeden Martell, who plays the most outwardly racist and white supremacist member of the Thrombey family, is 1/4 Korean.
    • Both Ana de Armas and Marlene Forte (who plays Marta's mother) are originally Cuban, pretty much the only place in Spanish-speaking Latin America their characters can't be originally from.note .
    • Linda Thrombey's most notable trait is her arrogant and deceitful claims that she's a Self-Made Woman, despite owing much of her success to her famous, wealthy father. In contrast, her actress (Jamie Lee Curtis) was praised for her honesty and humility in a post-release interview where she admitted that nepotism played a role in much of her early acting career (her parents, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, were both famous actors).
  • Peter O'Toole's Star-Making Role in Lawrence of Arabia qualifies. O'Toole was a hard-drinking playboy, while T. E. Lawrence was a Celibate Eccentric Genius teetotaler.
  • Sean Connery played a proto-Indiana-Jones (who was intended to be a rights-free version of James Bond) in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And, although the filmmakers weren't able to get this into the movie version, the team that his character leads was formed by James Bond's grandfather in the original graphic novel.
  • The Legend of Hercules: Kellan Lutz, a devout Christian in real life, playing the Greek demigod Hercules.
  • In Les Misérables (2012), 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".
  • In the movie Life Partners, Adam Brody plays the boyfriend of his wife Leighton Meester's best friend.
  • The Little Hours: Alison Brie, who's Jewish, uses "Jew" as an insult toward someone, playing an Italian nun in the 1300s.
  • In Little Monsters, the main character is played by Fred Savage, who at the time was best known for starring in The Wonder Years. His father is played by Daniel Stern, who voiced his character's future self in the series.
  • The Long Riders main selling point was that it had four sets of actor brothers to play four sets of historical outlaw brothers. James & Stacey Keach played Jesse & Frank James. David, Keith, & Robert Carradine played Cole, Jim, & Bob Younger. Randy & Dennis Quaid played Clell & Ed Miller. Christopher & Nicholas Guest played Charlie & Bob Ford. At least on real life Younger brother was changed into a cousin in the film, possibly to not ruin the pattern.
  • 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.
    DJ: Did you see those Mummy movies? Yeah, I'm in them more than Bren Fraser is.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:
    • Gimli nudges Legolas' 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.
  • 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 (he stammers a bit and calls her Karen, though). She's is played by Claudia Schiffer.
  • Malcolm X: Legendary civil rights attorney William Kunstler has a cameo as the racist judge whose harsh sentencing of Malcolm and Shorty is clearly motivated by the fact that they've been sleeping with white women. He's not even the only example; well-known Hollywood liberals Peter Boyle and John Sayles have cameos as, respectively, a racist cop and an FBI agent who's listening on Malcolm's conversations.
  • Man of Steel:
  • Simon Callow has played Charles Dickens no less than five times. In The Man Who Invented Christmas, a movie about the writing of A Christmas Carol... he plays John Leech, the book's illustrator.
  • When Paul Bettany portrayed Dr. Stephen Maturin in the film adaptation of Master and Commander in 2003, many viewers noted that his take on the character was practically a fictional counterpart to Charles Darwin: a learned man of science who goes to sea as a ship's doctor in the 19th century, serves as a companion to the ship's captain, spends his time researching animal specimens in the Galapagos Islands, and even bears a rather striking resemblance to Darwin. Fittingly, Bettany actually got a chance to play Darwin for real in the biopic Creation in 2009, six years later.
  • The Matrix is famous for being a Spiritual Adaptation of the cyberpunk novels of William Gibson, to the point that many sci-fi fans have called it "The closest thing to a Neuromancer movie we'll ever get".note  It's likely not an accident that the lead character is played by Keanu Reeves, who also played the lead role in Johnny Mnemonic—Hollywood's only officially licensed adaptation of a William Gibson story—four years earlier.
  • 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 recognizes 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. The unnamed bank robber also mentions that he's "getting too old for this" as he makes his getaway.
    • Further, the film features The Unseen 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.
  • Men in Black: International stars Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth as Agent M and Agent H—a rookie MIB agent and her experienced veteran partner. They previously starred in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Valkyrie and Thor, another pair of heroic partners; Avengers: Endgame even ends with Thor Passing the Torch to Valkyrie and naming her his successor, mirroring their dynamic in Men in Black.
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats: The titular men 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.
  • In Midsommar Jack Reynor plays Christian, an anthropology student - and awful boyfriend - who decides to travel to Sweden to study a cult called the Harga. In Strange Angel, he plays the lead who not only joins a cult himself, but eventually even ends up as its interim leader.
  • Very possibly the casting of Robin Williams, TV's Mork From Ork in The '70s, as Popeye, searching for his long lost father, Poopdeck Pappy, played by Ray Walston, TV's loveable alien from The '60s on My Favorite Martian.
  • In The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, all of the Shadowhunters have British accents. Clary who is the daughter of one is played by Lily Collins who is also the daughter a Brit.
  • A rather macabre one in MouseHunt: whereas in The Lion King (1994) Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella are Those Two Guys whose Trademark Favorite Food is live insects, their onscreen reunion four years later was marked by Ernie Smuntz (Lane) accidentally killing Mayor McKrinkle (Sabella) at Smuntz's chic French restaurant, after the mayor bites off the head of a live cockroach that crawled into his dinner, triggering a Vomit Indiscretion Scene followed by a fatal heart attack. Keep in mind that unlike The Lion King (1994), MouseHunt is live-action, not animated.
  • Sir Kenneth Branagh has spent his entire career being compared to and shadowing sir Laurence Olivier. So there came as no surprise when he was cast as Laurence Olivier himself in My Week with Marilyn.
  • The casting of Larry Hagman, famous for playing a member of a Texas oil baron family in Dallas, in Nixon as a Texas billionaire.
  • Nocturnal Animals:
    • Susan's obvious expy in the book, Laura, is played by Isla Fisher, whose uncanny resemblance to Amy Adams has become a popular Internet meme. There's no way that casting Isla Fisher in the role is a coincidence.
    • A probable example with India, the expy of Edward's and Laura's daughter Samantha, as the latter was played by Bobbi Salvor Menuez. Menuez's first name at the time was India. It's not a danza as India was played by another actor, but quite hard to believe this is coincidence. More like a partial expy of the actor who's playing the actor India is the expy of within the film.
  • In North, Kelly McGillis has a cameo as an Amish woman and Alexander Gudunov as her husband- they famously played Amish people in Witness.
  • Full Moon film Ooga Booga is about a young black man whose soul inhabits an impossibly racist "tribesman" doll after he is wrongfully killed by police. The main character's landlord - and one of his victims - is played by Karen Black. Karen Black is best known for being menaced by a Zuni fetish doll in Trilogy of Terror.
  • In Orgazmo, porn star Ron Jeremy plays a porn star who may or may not have been intended to be himself.
  • The Japanese dub of Pacific Rim has Megumi Hayashibara as the dub voice of Mako Mori, a Japanese mecha pilot with short, blue-tinted hair. Three good guesses as to why she was cast in that role...
  • 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 Paul, Sigourney Weaver plays the Big Bad that hunts the titular Alien.
  • In Photographing Fairies, Edward Hardwicke plays Arthur Conan Doyle. At the time, Hardwicke was best known as the second Dr. Watson in Granada's Sherlock Holmes.
  • In Piranha 3D, Richard Dreyfuss has a cameo at the beginning as a character who is practically an Expy of his previous character Matt Hooper from Jaws.
  • In the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Johnny Depp stated that he drew on two major inspirations for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow: Pepe LePew and Keith Richards. In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, we meet Captain Teague, Keeper of the Pirates' Code, the bigger fish to every other pirate on the seas, and Jack's father, played by...Keith Richards.
  • Princess Cyd: In the film Cyd and Miranda discuss if Katie might be transgender. Malic White, who plays Katie in the film, is transgender, using they/them pronouns (although the character's gender identity isn't established to be trans).
  • Alexandra Maria Lara, who became famous for playing Hitler's secretary in Downfall, seems to enjoy playing with this. In The Reader, she briefly appears as a Holocaust survivor. In Miracle At St Anna, she plays a version of Axis Sally, who unlike Traudl Junge, is completely committed to the Nazi cause.
  • Melanie Scrofano is best known for starring on Wynonna Earp as the eponymous protagonist, an Action Girl with great shooting skills. In Ready or Not (2019), however, she plays Emilie Le Domas, an incompetent, coked-up heiress who's a terrible shot with every weapon and accidentally kills two of the maids as a result, to the point where the rest of the family eventually takes away her shooting weapons.
  • 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.
  • The 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 (2000) film as the master of a large maze from which the heroes have to retrieve a gem.
  • The Sandlot: Scotty's step-father is a New York Yankees fan. In reality, Denis Leary, who plays him, is a diehard Boston Red Sox fan and despises the Yankees.
  • David Krumholtz is Jewish, but played the Head Elf Bernard in the first two Santa Clause films.
  • Santa's Slay: Santa is played by the Jewish Bill Goldberg. The first scene has Santa kill a dysfunctional family at Christmas dinner who are all played by Jewish actors in cameos.
  • Cynthia Rothrock as Mrs. Claus in Santa's Summer House which is pretty much Casting Gag: The Movie, as the cast was filled with people known for their action chops. There's no violence in this family pic.
  • Saving Mr. Banks: It can't be a coincidence that Emma Thompson plays P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, after having previously played a Poppins-esque Magical Nanny in Nanny McPhee.
  • The first Scream movie had a throwaway line about who would play each of the characters in the slasher-movie-plot they've found themselves in. Sidney quips, "With my luck they'd cast Tori Spelling." Cue Scream 2 where a Film Within a Film regarding the first movie's events is being filmed, and the character who represents Sidney is, indeed, Tori Spelling — she thought the quip from the first movie was Actually Pretty Funny and signed up for the joke.
  • 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'.
  • Seed of Chucky casts Hannah Spearritt - fresh off the heels of her fame from S Club 7 - playing a wannabe who spends her free time writing fan mail to celebrities.
  • In Shakespeare in Love, Ben Affleck has a small role as a big name actor who is tricked into accepting a small role in Romeo and Juliet.
  • SHAZAM! (2019):
    • Doctor Sivana's wealthy and emotionally abusive CEO father is played by John Glover, best known for portraying Lionel Luthor, Lex Luthor's wealthy and emotionally abusive CEO father in Smallville. And just like Lionel, Mr. Sivana ultimately ends up being killed by his own son in an act of vengeance.
    • The adult versions of Freddy and Pedro are played by Adam Brody and D.J. Cotrona, respectively. Brody and Cotrona were previously cast as the Flash and Superman, respectively, in George Miller's Justice League Mortal before that project fell apart.
  • A Shot at Glory features former Rangers footballer Ally McCoist as former Celtic footballer Jackie McQuillan - the clubs in question are two of the fiercest rivals in world football.
  • Tim Burton has a brief cameo in Singles, playing a disheveled, artistic amateur film director.
  • In May 1941, Esmond Knight was an officer aboard the battleship Prince of Wales when she engaged the Bismarck off Iceland, and was almost completely blinded by flying debris when his ship was hit. In 1960 he played the Captain of the Prince of Wales in Sink the Bismarck!.
  • In Silent Movie, the only spoken word of dialogue in the entire film comes from Marcel Marceau, the world's most famous mime.
  • In Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the Big Bad Dr. Totenkopf never actually appears in the flesh until the final act of the movie, but he's "played" by the late Sir Laurence Olivier in pictures and video clips, with several old film clips of Olivier edited together to fit the film's plot. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Totenkopf turns out to have been Dead All Along (just like his actor) when the heroes finally breach his lair.
  • Sky High (2005): Lynda Carter, former Wonder Woman, as the Sky High Principal. At one point, she quips "I'm not a wonder woman, you know."
  • In Social Suicide, a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, Olivia Hussey cameos as Julia's (the modern Juliet character) mother. Her former co-star from the 1968 film, Leonard Whiting, played her husband, Julia's father (her daughter India Eisley played Julia-the modern Juliet-herself).
  • 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.)
  • Spider-Man:
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Brock Peters was cast to play the racist Admiral Cartwright. While the character had been seen in the earlier film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, director Nicolas Meyer confirmed that he was brought back as an allusion to Peters' role as Tom Robinson. Peters was, understandably, very uncomfortable playing the part.
  • Star Wars:
  • The film version of A Streetcar Named Desire somewhat famously cast Vivien Leigh—who was still best known for playing Scarlett O'Hara at the time—as the mentally damaged Southern belle Blanche Dubois, whose tragic inability to cope with the loss of her family's ancestral plantation ultimately costs Blanche her sanity. The casting choice helps make Tennessee Williams' deconstruction of American class and gender roles all the more obvious, and it draws attention to Blanche's attachment to her rosy, idealized image of the antebellum South.
  • In Striptease, porn star Pandora Peaks played Demi Moore's stripper friend Urbanna Sprawl.
  • Horror-comedy Suck does a lot of Stunt Casting of musicians, but the most ironic is Moby as Beef Bellows, lead singer of a band called Secretaries of Steak, whose stage act involves throwing raw meat at his audience: In real life Moby is an outspoken vegan and supporter of animal rights.
  • Sunset Boulevard:
    • Gloria Swanson, who was an over-the-hill, forgotten silent movie actress, plays an over-the-hill, silent movie actress.
    • 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 (Queen Kelly) - directed by Erich von Stroheim.
    • And then there are her card-playing buddies from the Old Days ("the Waxworks"), including Buster Keaton.
  • 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 a What Could Have Been example, Marvel Studios originally wanted Mads Mikkelsen for the role of Malekith the Accursed in Thor: The Dark World, which also starred Anthony Hopkins as Odin. If Mikkelsen had actually been cast in the role, the movie would have featured two Hannibal Lecters squaring off against each other in a war over Asgard.
  • Terry Gilliam wrote in, with some humor, the detail in the script to Time Bandits that the portrayer of King Agamemnon in the movie would resemble Sean Connery "or an actor of equal but cheaper stature". To Gilliam's surprise, Connery acquired, read and liked the script, offering to accept less money than his usual pay rate to appear in the film.
  • Titus, the 1999 film adaptation of Shakespeare's play Titus Andronicus, cast Anthony Hopkins as the title character, who gets revenge on his arch-enemy by murdering her sons, baking them into a pie and making her eat them. One of Hopkins' most famous roles is Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, a serial killer known for eating his victims.
  • In Unknown (2011), 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.
  • 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.
  • In the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, Waylon Jennings is played by Jennings' real-life son, Shooter Jennings.
  • Wedding Crashers: US Treasury Secretary William Cleary and his wife Katherine are played by Christopher Walken and Jane Seymour, who had respectively played Max Zorin in A View to a Kill and Solitaire in Live and Let Die, which were Roger Moore's last and first James Bond films, respectively.
  • 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).
  • In Wonder Woman 1984, the title character dons the armor of Asteria, a legendary Amazon. Diana describes Asteria as the greatest hero of an entire race of warriors, as she single-handedly held back an entire army of men to allow the rest of her people to escape to safety in Themsycria; this was a Heroic Sacrifice on her part, as it meant she couldn't go back with them. The Stinger reveals that Asteria has been living among humans ever since, using her powers to keep them safe whenever she can—"I've been doing this a long time." So who plays this "first among Amazons?" Lynda Carter, the original TV Wonder Woman, of course.
  • The World of Suzie Wong:
    • Nancy Kwan plays a poor prostitute who makes up stories about being rich. In reality she had quite a privileged upbringing.
    • Suzie Wong was fully Chinese, but her actress Nancy Kwan was actually half-Chinese, half-Caucasian, due to having a Chinese father and a Caucasian mother, and in fact she was given mild Yellowface to look more Chinese. This is especially Hilarious in Hindsight (although perhaps hilarious in a "cringe" way) when one considers that the exact opposite happened in a previous film featuring William Holden in a interracial relationship with a woman of Chinese ancestry set in Hong Kong, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, where his love interest was described as "Eurasian", seemingly to cover the fact that she was played by the very much Caucasian Jennifer Jones in very obvious yellowface.
  • Peter Capaldi as a World Health Organization (W.H.O) Doctor in World War Z. Prior to the worldwide announcement on 4 August 2013, it was mostly unknown that he would play the role of the Twelfth Doctor (only known to a select few, including some of the show's production staff).
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: The Last Stand has former soccer player Vinnie Jones as the Juggernaut, whose American football design is deliberately played up with his "unstoppable" mutant power.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse:
      • Possibly unintentional, but in the comics, Psylocke is famous for being a white woman who became Asian (It Makes Sense in Context). In the film, she's played by Olivia Munn, who is half-white and half-Asian.
      • Accidental example. Angel is played by Ben Hardy in this film. He was previously played by another Ben—Ben Foster—in The Last Stand.
      • Ally Sheedy, who starred as a '80s-era high school student stuck in detention in The Breakfast Club, is Scott Summers' (a.k.a. Cyclops) teacher in 1983, and she sends him to the principal's office.
    • The New Mutants:
      • Maisie Williams, most famous for playing the younger daughter of direwolf-themed House Stark on Game of Thrones, has been cast as mutant lycanthrope Wolfsbane.
  • In Zack and Miri Make a Porno, porn stars Katie Morgan and Traci Lords play porn stars.
  • David Duchovny, famous for his iconic role as paranormal conspiracy theorist Agent Mulder in The X-Files, appears in Zoolander as a conspiracy nut.

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