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Casting Gag

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This is where an entire role mirrors or parodies an entire previous role or Real Life situation of the actor. A conscious casting choice can be assumed; thus, it can also apply to cameos and guest stars. This forms a small joke or minor piece of merriment. Note that the gag is entirely dependent on the casting and the role rather than some later effected plot or dialogue.

Contrastingly, an Actor Allusion is when the role being played can be nothing like the actor's real life or previous roles, but contains a Famous Role Shout Out: an allusion to the actor's work, but nothing more.


An actor can use this self-consciously when parodying themselves for Adam Westing. Compare with Playing Against Type, when an actor's role is (often consciously) very different from their typical ones, though this is less likely to be a gag. If the gag is that the character being played is untalented in something the actor excels in, then it's Irony as She Is Cast. 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 Actor-Shared Background, when the gag doesn't reference a large part of the actor's real life but matches certain elements. See also I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine. Stunt Casting is often done with the aim of shoehorning in this trope.



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    Film — Animation 
  • At the end of The Jungle Book 2, Shere Khan (now voiced by Tony Jay) actually ends up being defeated by being plunged into a fiery pit, similar to Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • In Meet the Robinsons, Lewis goes through each member of the Robinson family and how they're related to each other, with his mental family tree shown to the viewer; however, he hasn't met Wilbur's dad Cornelius, so he asks Wilbur what he looks like. After a Beat, Wilbur says "Tom Selleck" in a deadpan tone, and a Real Life picture of Selleck is used for Lewis' thoughts. In reality, Cornelius is voiced by Selleck but looks like Lewis as an adult. The line was actually written first, and that gave them the idea of offering Tom Selleck the role. In most of the dubbed versions (except for the Brazilian and Dutch), they replace the "Tom Selleck" line with whoever is voicing Cornelius in that language.
  • Don Bluth's Thumbelina features Jodi Benson voicing a redhead who wishes to find love with someone of a different species - who also has most characters comment on her beautiful singing voice. It wasn't the first time she lent her voice to such a film, that also happened to be based on a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale.
  • In the Brazilian Portuguese dub of The LEGO Movie, main character Emmet is played by Renan Freitas, who previously voiced another notorious builder.
  • In The Boxtrolls, it wouldn't be Dee Bradley Baker's first time playing a fish. He previously did that in American Dad!, with Klaus.
  • Wonder Woman (2009): Hippolyta's voice actress, Virginia Madsen, is no stranger to playing a demigoddess' mother since she also played Arella from Teen Titans.
  • The LEGO Batman Movie:
  • Inside Out has an example similar to the Meet The Robinsons one above. Anger is constantly seen reading a newspaper that updates him on things in Riley's life, wears a white button-down shirt and tie, and, as to be expected, has a Hair-Trigger Temper. He's voiced by Lewis Black, who is famous for his "angry yelling" comedy persona. Black also wears the same clothes for his stand-up act and often uses stories from newspapers as fodder for jokes. This is all very deliberate—during the first pitch meeting of the movie, the writers, perhaps jokingly, told the studio heads to imagine getting different people to voice the emotions, specifically remarking "We could get Lewis Black to play Anger!" Sure enough, that's exactly what happened.
  • In Incredibles 2 the mayor of New Urbem is voiced by Barry Bostwick, who played the bumbling mayor of New York city in the sitcom Spin City.
  • In Frozen (2013), Elsa sings an "I Am Becoming" Song about embracing her snow powers. Elsa's voice actress, Idina Menzel, originated "Defying Gravity" on Wicked, another "I Am Becoming" Song of a misfit witch finding herself.
  • Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, a guy known for being typecast as the Scary Black Man, voices a cute, tiny animal in Zootopia...whose got an aggressive personality that is not that far off from the Scary Black Man character he usually plays. It's just that, this time, he's not intimidating at all due to his looks and stature, while in his live-action movies, he's very intimidating.
  • Heidi's Song: Sammy Davis Jr., a member of the Rat Pack, voices the leader of a group of actual rats.

  • For his album Rock Swings Paul Anka covered Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" which references the song "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, which Anka wrote.
  • Peter Gabriel's "The Barry Williams Show" is from the point of view of a trashy Reality Television show host, but the title wasn't meant to reference any specific celebrity, and the name "Barry Williams" was just meant to be as ordinary-sounding as possible. Peter Gabriel subsequently learned that there was in fact a TV star of that name, the American actor is best known for playing Greg from The Brady Bunch, so he got him to make a cameo in the music video... Ironically enough, he plays an audience member, not the host.
  • P!nk's "Revenge", a Revenge Ballad about her and her friends getting back on an ex who treated her badly, has a guest verse from Eminem, infamous for channelling his real-life Destructive Romance with Kim Scott into songs about getting (bloody) revenge on her. Pink doesn't give any details about what her revenge is, and all Slim describes is intentionally cheating on his girl to make her feel bad... but his presence is enough to imply some violence to the plans. This is reinforced by the video, which is pretty gory for Top 40 pop.


  • In 2009, Cate Blanchett played the title character in an Australian production of Richard II. Richard and Queen Elizabeth I (who Blanchett previously played in Elizabeth) have famously been compared—Elizabeth herself allegedly even said: "I am Richard II; know ye not that?"
  • Anne Hathaway's role as the lead in the 2009 Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night, though it's more of a casting pun. Her name is the same as Shakespeare's wife.
  • 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, took over Daniel Radcliffe's role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
  • 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. Karloff did get to reprise the role for a TV movie adaptation in 1962.
  • For the 1951 West End production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams personally cast Vivien Leigh—who was still best known for playing Scarlett O'Hara at the time—as the mentally damaged Southern Belle Blanch Dubois, whose inability to cope with the loss of her family's ancestral plantation tragically costs her her sanity. The casting choice carried over to the well-known film adaptation released the same year (see "Film" above).
  • The 2011 production of Company cast Neil Patrick Harris, an openly gay engaged man, as a bachelor who strings women along and disdains marriage.
  • The original Broadway production of Shrek: The Musical cast John Tartaglia, a famous Broadway puppeteer and Muppet performer, as Pinocchio, a puppet.

    Video Games 
  • Catherine has Michelle Ruff and Laura Bailey, both who played the Lovers Arcana social link Persona 3 and Persona 4, respectively, play the two K/Catherine characters in this game, vying for the same man.
  • In Saints Row and Saints Row 2, Phil Morris voiced Legal Lee, who is a lawyer, much like his Seinfeld character Jackie Chiles.
  • Hokuto ga Gotoku features the voice cast of the Yakuza series as characters from Fist of the North Star, with each actor's characters sharing qualities with each other. To name a few examples:
    • Takaya Kuroda voices Kazuma Kiryu and Kenshiro, stoic badass protagonists.
    • Kazuhiro Nayaka voices Akira Nishikiyama and Shin, former best friends to the protagonist whose jealousy drives them to betrayal.
    • Hidenari Ugaki voices Goro Majima and Jagi, crazed Combat Pragmatists who are obsessed with defeating their rivals.
  • In Hitman (2016) William Mapother voices the target Dino Bosco, a Prima Donna Director and B-list actor. This is significant as not only is Mapother an actor who is a cousin of Tom Cruise, he was originally cast as the replacement voice actor for Agent 47 in Hitman: Absolution, but the original VA, David Bateson came back at the last minute after recording some lines in secret with IOI to prove Square Enix wrong (to which they agreed, and Bateson was added proper). His level in 2016 "The Icon". also has a pair of NPC's that references this backlash, and one of them wants Dino replaced with a guy named "Dave Bateson", and will form a petition to do so.
  • In Hitman 2, Sean Bean voices the Elusive Target codenamed: "The Undying", real name Mark Faba, a target known for coming back from the dead when the ICA tries to assassinate him, and has canonically two seperate contracts from the ICA as even 47 can't keep him dead for long . He's basically his GoldenEye character Alec Trevelyan in videogame form, crossed with the notoriety of Sean Bean being a Chronically Killed Actor.
  • Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid features Dan Southworth returning to his role as Eric Myers, the Quantum Ranger, from Power Rangers Time Force. Eric's dialogue, however, is now peppered with references to Southworth's most famous video game role, Vergil from Devil May Cry, while his fighting style is reminiscent of The Musketeer fighting style used by Dante.
    Eric Myers: I need more Quantum Power!
    Eric Myers: Foolishness, Lord Zedd. Foolishness.
  • The 2020 game Genshin Impact, or 原神 yuánshén in Chinese casts Aoi Yūki as the female lead Lumine for its Japanese soundtrack. The gag is in Chinese: back in 2011, the shock from the series Puella Magi Madoka Magica tied, in many Chinese viewers' minds, the name Aoi Yuuki with her character Madoka Kaname, or the omniscient being Madokami, or directly translated in Chinese, 圆神 yuánshén. Fast forward to 2017, when Yuuki appeared as Yoshiko Hanabatake in Aho Girl, and the huge contrast between the two characters gave the latter the nickname 猿神 yuánshén meaning "the monkey goddess". The homonymic pun got a third member later that year with Akiho Kosaka from My Girlfriend is Shobitch as 援神 yuánshén, voiced by, you guessed it, Aoi Yuuki. As the voice actress of three successive yuánshén's, it makes sense for a game titled yuánshén to cast her as the leading characternote .
  • Cyberpunk 2077: The creators of Cyberpunk have said that POV character Morgan Blackhand is pretty much grimyfuture John Wick, so when CD Projekt Red had the chance to cast Keanu Reeves, who played John Wick, in their adaptation... they cast him as the other prominent POV character Johnny Silverhand.
  • In Disco Elysium, the final conflict is between two sides led by two of the Chapo Trap House hosts - Felix Biederman's deranged mercenary Kourtenaer, and Matt Christman's Union strongman Titus. This appears to be a reference to how, on Chapo, when they argue it's usually over the cultural value of video gaming, with opposing positions that somewhat resemble the characters (Matt thinks it's a boot on our necks keeping us from rising up and destroying capitalism; Felix just likes that they let him pretend to be a soldier with a big gun).
  • Psychonauts 2: Razputin, voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz, gains the ability to summon a small, hyperactive oddball minion to help him with certain tasks. Said minion is voiced by Rosearik Rikki Simons. This is a reference to Simons' role on Invader Zim as GIR, a small, hyperactive oddball minion working for a character voiced by Horvitz.

    Web Animation 

    Web Videos 
  • The Time... Guys made their three-person cast a joke. One actor plays every single historical character the gang meets.
  • Canadian programmer Ian Kirby, one of the Power Trio of artists behind Broken Saints, makes a Creator Cameo on the DVD voice track as a Canadian soldier.
  • In The Nostalgia Critic's review of Les Misérables (2012) makes fun of the Love at First Sight trope by having that happen between Paw Dugan and Maven of the Eventide; Paul Schuler and Elisa Hansen are engaged in real life.
  • The antagonist of the Irish film Undefeated is a bully who gives a speech about how repulsed he is by the thought of people being gay. His actor James Stephen Walsh is bisexual.
  • In Mr Peterson Robbie is a reckless driver who murdered the titular character with Car Fu. Bobby Calloway didn't know how to drive when his scenes were shot.
  • The Nutters: Luke is portrayed as a clueless ditz. His actor Liam Gaynor was noted to be one of the most intelligent and insightful members of the cast - even winning arts scholarships.