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Actor Allusion

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The movie makes a sly reference to a famous earlier role by Irons. When Simba tells him, "You're so weird," he replies "You have no idea," in exactly the tone he used in "Reversal of Fortune."

An Actor Allusion is the deliberate, yet typically rather isolated, throw-away references to previous works/roles of an actor in a work, say a joke or mannerism. The reference is unlikely to have much plot relevance, and is unlikely to be anything but a deliberate nod to the actor's previous work. Also note that it is for allusions to roles, not the actor themselves, with the equivalent being an Actor-Shared Background.

It can be a little blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, such as Mary Albright (Jane Curtin) spotting some people in Conehead costumes at a sci-fi convention in 3rd Rock from the Sun, or it can be bigger and more blatant, such as when John Lithgow repeated his entire anti-music rant from Footloose in the same show. Casting two or more actors who not only appeared together in a previous production, but spent a great deal of time onscreen together (especially alone) really reinforces the reference, as the page image demonstrates.


Related to the Shout-Out, and is sometimes triggered by I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine or a Casting Gag, but while a Casting Gag relies upon casting an actor in a role that inherently has many comparisons to their previous roles or real life, an Actor Allusion uses only small details of only a previous plot or role for the actor. In either case, though, if the role being referenced was on a previous version of the show, it's a Remake Cameo.

Contrast with Celebrity Paradox and Meta Casting where the actor themselves is the subject of reference. This is show business' In-Universe way of acknowledging Role Association.

Try to be sure a reference is blatant, specific, or otherwise confirmed by Word of God before committing yourself. Often times, entries are written that merely involve an actor playing the same profession and/or character archetype, which are less likely to be intentional. If, for example, actress Alice plays a cynical Dr. Beth in Work B, and then goes on to play a cynical Dr. Cathy in Work C, that alone is not necessarily this trope. What would be an example is if Alice, as Dr. Cathy, offhandedly uses Dr. Beth's Catchphrase, or strikes an iconic pose that Dr. Beth is known for.




Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Actress Allusion


Rock and Roll Music

John Lithgow references his role as Rev. Shaw Moore in "Footloose"

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Main / ActorAllusion

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Main / ActorAllusion