"Luvvie" is a slang word for actor originating in British theatre, from the tendency of stage actors to call each other "love" and "darling" (apparently because when you're going from job to job it's easier than remembering people's names). The people it refers to tend to be posh and classically trained, and it connotes a certain amount of pomposity, effusiveness, sensitivity, and/or sentimentality, with perhaps a dash of self-serving two-facedness mixed in depending on how generous you're (not) feeling.
As you might expect from that description, "luvvie" itself is a generally derogatory word, and this trope is double-edged: the existence of people like this in show business is obviously Truth in Television, and some actors will take huge offense at this perception of their profession, inevitably displaying all of the above qualities in the process of denying it. On the other hand, this trope is easy to overdo, especially in conjunction with an unfair portrayal of the whole art of acting as a self-indulgent sham requiring no work — any actor who talks about their job in public at all, no matter with how clear a sense of proportion, stands a chance of being accused of being like this. Actors who possess a sense of humor often invoke or lampshade this trope about themselves for Self-Deprecation purposes.
Expect to hear Continuity Lockout nicknames and references, long-winded stories about working with stars from the previous generation, Compliment Fishing, fits of rage and depression over bad reviews, catty remarks about some colleagues and gushing praise for others, obsession with who wins awards (while pretending not to care), and constant soul-searching and navel-gazing. A luvvie trying to function outside the context of work is often a sad sight to see. He may consider himself a a Sad Clown, Blessed with Suck for being so very talented in a world that doesn't understand. He may actually be that talented — or not. Despite having any or all of these traits, these characters are often regarded affectionately — this is usually Write What You Know, and after all, they have to be played by... actors. There are plenty of people in the real world who are massive luvvies and well liked for it.
The Oxford English Dictionary's first recorded use of the word is an interview Stephen Fry did in The Guardian in 1988 and subsequently forgot all about, though the word and the concept are older, according to The Other Wiki, it was a phrase popularised by British actor James Villiers.
Compare Shakespearean Actors, Large Ham, Classically-Trained Extra, Theatre is True Acting, and Wag the Director. A particularly unsympathetic portrayal might make them Nice Character, Mean Actor. They live in the same world as the Prima Donna Director and Caustic Critic. Luvvies are Always Camp, even the women.
- Viz features Luvvie Darling, a melodramatic and self-important thespian who is always "Resting Between Jobs" (out of work), principally because he is completely talentless. He's depicted as an exaggerated parody of old-school British Shakespearian stage actors: pompous, bombastic, profligate and pretentious in his use of literary quotes, and habitually referring to famous, real-life actors in familiar terms (such as "Dear old Larry" for Sir Laurence Olivier). Darling's name is a pun on the insincere and over-affectionate terms, "luvvie" and "darling" that actors and actresses are stereotyped as employing with each other. He's in his forties, dresses in a Hamlet-style period costume with embroidered tunic, frilled collar and cuffs, high boots and short ornamental cape. His appearance is based on stereotypical images of William Shakespeare.
- Withnail of Withnail and I. Marwood's relatively more adult attitude ends up getting him a job, while Withnail is left performing Hamlet to some captive wolves.
- Part of the joke of Shakespeare in Love is assuming that actors 400 years ago were already like this.
Ned: [about Christopher Marlowe's death] Marlowe attacked and got his own knife in the eye. A quarrel about the bill.
Fennyman: The bill? Oh, vanity, vanity!
Ned: Not the billing. The bill.
- I, An Actor: Another Great Actor Exposes Himself by "Nicholas Craig" (see below).
- In The Man In The Rubber Mask, Robert Llewellyn's autobiography, he keeps track of his own luvviness, at one point comparing himself to the aforementioned Nicholas Craig.
- In "Count (Baron) Dracula and Baron (Count) Frankenstein" by Stephen Marley, set in a Gothic Horror theme park, there's a scene where the protagonist has a conversation with a crowd of rough, superstitious villagers in the village inn; after he leaves, they all drop character, revealing to the reader that they're luvvies to a man.
- Extras naturally featured this a little bit.
- In early seasons, QI used to have a "Luvvie Alarm" they would set off when a panellist was judged to have crossed into this territory while telling a story. Stephen Fry and John Sessions were both guilty. In the "Films & Fame" episode (for the sake of which it was a good thing they'd retired the alarm a long time before, or else Sessions would have singlehandedly caused a power outage in the studio), we got this exchange:
Emma Thompson: You know the word "luvvie"?
Emma: What do you all feel about it?
Stephen: [sigh] I mean, I'm not going to get as upset as some actors do — some actors say, "We do a bloody hard job of work, we're serious people, you know, it's a coal face, doing a play! How dare they call us luvvies!" I think that's a bit overdone. On the other hand, it's a bit tedious when the Daily Mail says "luvvie couple XYZ," or something....
Emma: Do you know what the first citation of it is in the OED?
Emma: It's you.
[cue My God, What Have I Done? reaction from Stephen; eventually the previously-retired Luvvie Alarm goes off in reaction to the discussion]
- Both parties in the above example were in the Cambridge Footlights together, and each had a sketch in their revue where they played this type of character (him as a host of an acting masterclass show dispensing idiotic "wisdom" to a student played by Hugh Laurie, her as an actress obnoxiously receiving an award).
- Later, in A Bit of Fry and Laurie, there was a sketch where Laurie was a luvvie claiming he used to know "absolutely everyone" in the business, and Fry was an interviewer who got annoyed and started asking about various made-up people with Unfortunate Names ("Fenella Hahahahahaha!spuit?"). Laurie kept pretending he recognized them, until the punchline: "Dick Van Dyke?" "You just made that up!"
- Inside the Actors Studio is often accused of this — comedian David Cross hates it, and has a long routine making fun of the way James Lipton fawns over guests whether they've done anything to deserve it or not.
- The Nigel Planer character Nicholas Craig, star of Nicholas Craig — The Naked Actor and The Nicholas Craig Masterclass.
- In That Mitchell and Webb Look one sketch series follows a pair of luvvies that bad mouth upcoming talent, cry that their lackluster careers are actually by choice and they prefer the intimate relationship of the smaller crowd and detest the impersonal nature of massive venues, they bitch about rivals that win awards and they actually dislike each other to boot. The joke is that they're actually footballers (soccer) not actors.
- Slings & Arrows, especially Those Two Guys, Frank and Cyril.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus had judges acting like this "backstage" in the courthouse.
- Actors Keanrick and Mossop talk this way in the Blackadder episode "Sense and Senility". Both of them are exceedingly pompous, have an inflated sense of their own abilities, and piss off Blackadder so much that he gets them executed.
- The "Theatre Stories" sketches on Saturday Night Live featured Mike Myers as a superannuated actor of this type
- Eerie, Indiana: In "Reality Takes a Holiday", the Adam Westing version of Francis Guinan is very much a luvvie. He speaks in an affected Mid-Atlantic accent and continually talks about his experiences on the stage working with the likes of John Malkovich and Dustin Hoffman.
- Private Eye has a feature called "Luvvies" specifically for quotes from actors that exemplify this trope.
- Alex: In one strip, Alex and Clive are in a bar discussing Quentin Tarantino's plan to make a William Shakespeare movie. Clive makes a joke "I can see it now: Quentin Tarantino's 'F*@# Macbeth'." One of the other patrons objects to Clive's language and he immediately apologises and corrects himself to 'F*@# The Scottish Play' as the final panel reveals the bar is full of luvvies.
- Round the Horne features a recurring skit about Julian and Sandy, two perpetually out-of-work actors who keep trying new jobs to earn a living until their careers pick up, with much of the humor coming from how unsuited a couple of luvvies are to whatever job it is they're attempting.
- In The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Production of Macbeth, the show within the show is being observed by a drama festival adjudicator named George Peach, who is a camp and sharp-tongued aging actor who tells anecdotes about hanging out with the great names of an earlier generation.
- Final Fantasy:
- The GBA localisation of Final Fantasy V has Famed Mimic Gogo talk in this style when you face him in battle, droning on about the 'art' of mimicry and yelling at the player to 'stop trying to mime, and recenter' if you start attacking him.
- Ardyn in Final Fantasy XV has a dress style, demeanour and personality modelled after stereotypes of British Shakespearean Actors - long scarves, floppy hat, brolly, Large Ham, grandiloquent, Milking the Giant Cow, Ambiguously Gay, superficially charming, quotes poetry, is aware of where the camera is. This is a fun way of referencing both the character of which he is a Spiritual Successor (Final Fantasy VI's Kefka, whose character is themed around a different kind of performing artist) and the game's frequent references to Hamlet - Ardyn's bitterness over having been cheated out of his destiny as a good but tragic ruler might appear, through the lens of his actor aesthetic, like a luvvie pitching a fit over having been backstabbed on his path to play the Dane.
- Disco Elysium's Drama skill (the skill for lying and detecting lying) talks like a thesp, bitching about other people's performances, as well as your own if it doesn't think your melodrama is funny or interesting enough. At higher levels, it will encourage you more and more to act like a stereotypical luvvie ("You should say, '[Five hundred] Lears and I can't remember the first line!'").
- In the animated adaptation of Wyrd Sisters, the demon summoned by the witches is initially a looming, snarling presence — but when the witches make it clear that he's not frightening them, he drops character and is revealed as the demonic equivalent of this trope.
- Clayface from Harley Quinn (2019) is a classic example.