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Nice Character, Mean Actor

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"He fights his directors and he fights his fans
It's a problem no one understands
If there's two things he loves, it's fighting and
Fightin' round the world!"
South Park on Russell Crowe, "Fighting Round the World"
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There is an actor who is well-known for playing brave and courageous characters who are as good as it gets, or an actress whose characters are sweet and easy-going, but off-camera, it turns out that these people are not as nice as they appear to be when they start yelling at the rest of the cast, snapping at the director (in the sort of language their characters would never dare use), and proclaiming that they alone have the talent. When meeting with fans, they'll usually take on their nice character persona, but when alone they'll complain loudly about how much they hate their annoying fans. Hell, they might actually be genuinely nice, but the biz tends to bring out the worst in people pretty fast. And at the wrong time, too.

This is often used to give a message of not worshiping idols and raising false hopes. It is used to show the weaknesses and frivolities of show business and, funnily enough, considering the source, that just makes the message more interesting. People like to consider it knowledge from people who know what happens behind the curtain and take it as a knowing wink from the other side. Even if they're not really talking about their section of the industry.

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Sadly, this type of encounter can lead to a Broken Pedestal moment for a charcter when they find out that their beloved idol is such a mean jerk, a bully, or even a predator.

Related to Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight and the Depraved Kids' Show Host; subtrope of Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and The Prima Donna. The opposite of Mean Character, Nice Actor. Compare Funny Character, Boring Actor. Also compare Small Name, Big Ego.

Since this normally involves characters showing their true colors at a climactic point of a work, expect unmarked spoilers. Also, No Real Life Examples, Please! There are numerous gossip magazines and websites that delve into this exact thing, and celebrities are held to higher standards of "nice" than normal people; having a short temper on a stressful day of work can be spun into making one sound like a terrible person.

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In-Universe Examples Only:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • The infamous Juicy Fruit commercial set in the recording of a children's program has an actress trying to lip-sync the singalong song, only to lose it when her mascot-esque friend swipes the gum from her overalls!

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Blend-S, Mafuyu plays the role of an cheerful and adorable Little Sister Heroine when waiting tables at the Cosplay Café Stile, but she's really a Deadpan Snarker who tends to be brutally honest and isn't above hitting people for various slights. However, it's downplayed since she's not a bad person and just isn't as cheery as she pretends to be for her job.
  • Bubblegum Crisis: Vision may apear to be a calm, soft hearted Idol Singer, but offstage, she is a ruthless mecha driving terrorist on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge!
  • Sho of Skip Beat! is kind and sweet to his fans . . . and a ruthless, cruel jerk the rest of the time.
  • Akira Kogami in Lucky Star, but only in the anime. She acts like an adorable Genki Girl who's very enthusiastic about hosting the "Lucky Channel" segments, but in reality she's a Jerkass who's very cynical about her job.
  • Arguably, Tobi / Madara in Naruto Shippuuden are this in-universe.
    • Yukie Fujikaze from the first movie is a straighter example, actually being a movie star. She gives a powerful and moving performance while on film, but is cold and bitchy everywhere else. She got better.
  • Some victims of in Detective Conan are this trope.
  • Pop idol Glitter in Hamtaro. On the stage, she's a nice, bubbly Genki Girl. Off the stage, she's a nasty, possessive bitch. Glitter's hamster Sparkle is the same way, though unlike Glitter, Sparkle eventually gets better.
  • Megumi, Magical Angel Creamy Mami's rival. Though she too gets better by the end of the series.
  • Kiriri, the middle school voice actor from The World of Narue plays the bubbly and heroic Magical Girl Number 4, but outside of that, is a shallow jerk who tries to break Kazuto and Narue up.
  • As a riff on female celebrities who put on a kawaiiko persona, a Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei chapter/episode has Maria attacking people identified as a boke and when she goes to bop a seemingly ditzy female star identified as a "natural boke", said star flashes a Game Face at Maria and throws her to the ground- and then reverts to her cutesy persona in front of the camera.
  • Raymond Spume of the Ace Attorney manga plays the heroic Sparklestar for Sparkle Land, but makes snide comments about his fellow employees and yells at his assistant Julie for biting her nails. It turns out that he's quite attached to the role and doesn't want anyone else ruining Sparklestar, so he kills Flip Chambers when Flip is set to replace him.
    • In the Ace Attorney Investigations manga, Emi St. Cloud follows in this tradition, yelling at her assistant Kara when she only did what she was told and generally acting selfish and petty when she isn't putting on a good face for the press and as her role in the movie Othello Detectives. She ends up being murdered, and is an Asshole Victim, but it isn't over anything she did; the killer simply wanted to stop the film from being released.
  • In episode 10 of Oreimo, Kanako is quite upset that Ayase and Kyousuke tricked her into a cosplay contest. However, during the event, she gives it her all, and does such an outstanding job at playing an adorably cutesy Magical Girl that she wins the contest, and her friend in the audience, Kirino, didn't even realize it was her. Afterward, backstage, she gives off a very vicious attitude which causes one of the younger cosplay contestants to run out of the room crying.
  • In Yuru-Yuri, Chinatsu is sometimes forced to cosplay as Mirakurun, the main character of the Show Within a Show that Kyouko likes. She will often put on a cutesy display when entertaining a younger child, but then either break character the moment said child disappears (but is still within earshot, such as going to another room in a house), or does/says something that breaks said child's illusion/depiction of Mirakurun as a hero.
  • Soji, Reina's uncle in Yandere Kanojo. It's kinda downplayed that he's actually just a Mood-Swinger than actually malicious.
  • Mitsuki Yano in Yuri Is My Job, a manga that involves high schoolers working at a salon, where they roleplay as students at a prestigious all-girls school. While Mitsuki plays the kind senpai to Hime Shiraki, who's both a newcomer to the salon and Mitsuki's character's kohai, Mitsuki actually loathes Hime, as she's bitter over a past incident that ended their friendship. That said, she seems to get along at least reasonably well with her coworkers, even if she isn't exactly friends with them.
  • Dragon Ball Super: On-screen, Barry Khan regularly plays the role of the Hero. The real Barry Khan is a complete Jerkass and Spoiled Brat who does such things as risk the life of his stunt double just to make a scene look cooler and wishes harm to others because they snub him.
  • The final three episodes of Blood-C took the trope to downright depraved levels. The lead's "friends" were all actors hired by the Big Bad for the purpose of an experiment to see a latent hunger for humans would be jolted awake. Every last actor turns out to be a pretty despicable person, especially the guy pretending to be a boy who had feelings for the lead.

    Comic Books 
  • British girls' comic Mandy ran a strip in which a TV actress famous for playing a loving mother in a soap opera is in fact horrible to her stepdaughter behind closed doors.
  • In Fables (fairytale characters living in the real world), the Big Bad cast includes Geppetto, Goldilocks, Hansel, and two of the Three Little Pigs.
  • Frank and Leslie Dean from The Runaways appear to be the typical left-leaning acting couple, whose daughter remarks of them to be "the only happy couple in California". In reality, they're Human Aliens and members of a supervillain team known as the Pride that regularly engages in Human Sacrifice. While the Pride do this so their children will be safe after The End of the World as We Know It, the Deans are initially unwilling to give up their safety in return, or even have children. They even plot to betray the other members of the Pride so they'll be assured salvation with their daughter and another Pride family, thereby dooming the other children.

    Films — Animated 
  • Darla Dimple, the villain of Cats Don't Dance. On screen, she is sweet and loving of animals, but the real Darla is an Enfante Terrible.
  • Stinky Pete the Prospector from Toy Story 2. He is actually based on the loyal friend to Sheriff Woody in an old children's show called Woody's Roundup, but the toy version of him is very evil (and second only to Lotso). He hates other toys because he is constantly sealed within a cardboard box, and as a result he wants to remain in the box forever, and therefore he also wants other toys to be contained within their boxes as well.
  • Ernesto de la Cruz in Coco. He acts nice and cheerful in his movies and performing for crowds, but in reality, he murdered Miguel’s great-great grandfather Héctor and took the music from him.
  • In Kangaroo Jack: G'Day U.S.A.!, "Outback Ollie", the star of a children's zoology show, is actually a smuggler of exotic animals. Furthermore, he actually has a New York State accent.
  • Thunderbolt's sidekick Lil' Lightning from 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure. Onstage and on TV he's portrayed as being tough and serious, but in real life, he's jealous of Thunderbolt stealing his spotlight.
  • Wreck-It Ralph:
    • The Nicelanders act like helpless and Innocent Bystanders during game-play. When the arcade is closed, they are completely disrespectful towards Ralph by rendering him homeless; all the while completely ignoring the fact that wrecking their building is his day job. They don't even invite him to Fix-It Felix Jr.'s 30th anniversary party, even though he's still technically their co-worker. Gene easily stands out as the worst of them due to being the most downright rude and disrespectful towards Ralph, which actually causes Ralph to leave the game due to the mistreatment he receives from them. They get better by the end of the film and realize he's important to the game.
    • The only real exception here is Felix. Felix at least treats Ralph with respect from the beginning. However, he initially gets taken advantage of by the Nicelanders into ostracizing Ralph, which is why he's so hesitant in helping him (combined with simply not realizing Ralph's poor conditions).
    • Pretty much everyone in Sugar Rush save for Vanellope. Sugar Rush is a candy go-kart racing game starring adorable little children and their benevolent king. But when the arcade closes, they're all prejudiced jerkasses who treat outsiders like garbage and bully Vanellope for being a "glitch". Ralph even calls the game a "candy-coated heart of darkness". Though it later turns out that the reason they were behaving this way is because their memories and personalities were being manipulated by the villain in order to fulfill his own selfish needs.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Baby Herman of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. When the cameras stop rolling, he turns from a cute baby to a foul-mouthed, cigar-smoking, womanizing Jerkass. We later learn he is actually a Jerk with a Heart of Gold when he offers to hire Eddie Valiant to clear Roger's name, explaining that he and Roger are actually close friends. In all fairness, he is stricken with a "fifty-year-old lust and a three-year-old dinky."
  • Death to Smoochy focused on the sordid private lives of children's TV performers. Most of the drama comes from most of the characters trying to prove that Smoochy is just as bad as the rest.
  • Neil Patrick Harris portrayed himself in the Harold & Kumar movies as an insane lunatic with an insatiable appetite for drugs and hookers when off-screen. To be fair, he's a much more reasonable person when the drugs wear off.
  • Honey Whitlock from Cecil B. Demented. She has a charming public persona, but in real life is a crass, foul-mouthed diva. That is, at least, until she is kidnapped.
  • America's Sweethearts was built around this trope. Gwen and Eddie always played sweethearts in the movies (see the film's title). In real life, Gwen left Eddie for another man, treated her sister / assistant like garbage, and was a general bitch to most people she met. Gwen also expresses a similar sentiment about her sister.
  • My Name Is Bruce, where Bruce Campbell plays himself as this type of actor, mostly being compared to Ash.
  • Played brilliantly for comic effect in Pee-wee's Big Adventure when child actor Kevin Morton (played by actual Nice Guy child actor Jason Hervey) acts like an arrogant prick toward the cast and crew in between takes on a film where he plays an orphan that all of the nuns and fellow orphans love dearly.
    "Doesn't it look like I'm ready? I am ALWAYS ready! I have BEEN ready since first call! I AM READY! Roll!"
    • One of the actresses playing one of the nuns so resents Morton's attitude that she threatens to quit.
  • Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain. She plays all sorts of glamorous princesses and whatnot (in silent films), but when she actually opens her mouth, you find out she sounds awful and has the personality to match.
    • She could be considered a Jerkass Woobie if you remember that she's been treated condescendingly by the studio for years, forbidden to even speak in public because of her screechy voice. It's also pretty clear that she doesn't think she has such a hideous voice.
    • In the end it's her treatment of Kathy Seldon and her attempt at destroying her career by forcing Kathy into a contract as Lina's dubbed voice both on screen and off that ultimately cements her as the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and the film's antagonist.
  • Andy Griffith carries this off beautifully in 1957's A Face in the Crowd where he comes off as a folksy home-spun philosopher who somehow becomes a media success. Of course his downfall comes when his disillusioned girlfriend deliberately broadcasts what he really thinks of his audience during the closing credits of his TV program.
  • Neville Sinclair in The Rocketeer, an Errol-Flynn-style '30s action hero actor who turns out to be a jerkass primadonna who "accidentally" stabs one of his costars for upstaging him. Even worse, he turns out to be a Nazi spy, kills multiple people (enemy and ally alike) in his quest to steal the jetpack for his Nazi superiors so they can take over the world. This is based on real world accusations, but never confirmed, that Errol Flynn was himself a Nazi sympathizer.
  • In What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Jane was a cutesy Shirley Temple-esque child star who became a horrible spoiled brat offstage. Her career was ended when her fans witnessed her throwing a tantrum outside the theatre.
  • Tom Baxter in The Purple Rose of Cairo is charming and perfect while Gil Shepherd is an egotistical Jerkass.
  • Peter Sellers plays the primary Villain Protagonist of Your Past is Showing and is a variant on The Krusty/Depraved Kids' Show Host. The public knows him as a kind Fun Personified variety show host, but in reality, he's cold and cynical and has made money by investing in/being the landlord of slum housing.
  • In Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure, Amber Lee Adams at first seems like she's quite a nice person. However, as the movie goes on, it turns out that Amber is planning to have the 'best friend' written out of the show. In doing so, she hires Sharpay as (unknown to Sharpay) her maid by making her do Amber's dirty work, so that she'll 'help' Sharpay's dog, Boi, get the role as the 'best friend' in the show. Of course, Amber's karma catches up with her when she is exposed as a jerkass onstage at dress rehearsal, and right in front of her own fanclub, too!
  • Floop from Spy Kids, though it's played with. His heart ultimately isn't in evil, and his softness allows his Dragon, Minion, to usurp him and become the Big Bad instead.
  • Sally Field's character in the soap opera parody Soapdish. On-screen, she's "America's Sweetheart" but off-screen, she's a conniving diva.
  • Mystery Men gives us Captain Amazing. Only his publicist ever sees the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing underneath The Cape.
  • In The Great Man, a journalist prepares a broadcast tribute to the late Herb Fuller, a radio comedian who had a reputation for being genuinely funny, warm-hearted, and empathetic to the common man. During World War II, Fuller even braved the battlefield to deliver plasma to a badly wounded soldier in order to promote a radio blood drive. However, while doing his research for the tribute, the journalist finds out that Fuller was actually a hard-drinking, abusive womanizer. As for that World War II broadcast, he staged it while staying in Paris, where he spent most of his time getting drunk and chasing women. According to Fuller's friend, he never even left Paris and actually had to be bailed out of jail there after being caught with a female black-marketer.
  • In The Killing Of Sister George, the eponymous character on the Show Within a Show is a kindly, beloved nurse to the quaint rural community of Applehurst. The actress who plays her is an irascible, drunken lout who molests nuns and is sickeningly abusive to her girlfriend. Her bad behavior eventually catches up with her when the network decides to fire her and scripts her Applehurst character getting hit by a bus.
  • Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest. He barely hides his contempt for his role as Dr. Lazarus, as shown when he yanks photos out of the hands of fans and begrudgingly signs them. Jason Nesmith is another one; he was a skillful and masterful Captain Kirk Expy in the show's canon, but prior to the events of the film, he was a smug Manchild who gleefully shoved his costars out of the the spotlight (such that none of them liked him).

    Literature 
  • Just William
    • One of the stories featured William sneaking into a hotel so he could meet the actress playing "Princess Goldilocks" in the pantomime currently running at the local theatre. He discovers that she's grumpy, rude and much older than she looks on stage.
    • In another story, the Outlaws meet Anthony Martin, a child star famous because of his mother's literary works about him (a parody of A. A. Milne's works about his son Christopher Robin.) Anthony is not the sweet, angelic child that his mother and the press portray him as; and the Outlaws finally get their own back when they manage to record him verbally abusing his nanny.
  • In High Society by Ben Elton, a drug-addled rock star who became famous via an American Idol-style reality show confesses to an affair with a fellow contestant, who had projected a cutesy family-friendly image on the show but was really a coke-snorting nymphomaniac off screen.
  • A Sweet Valley Twins book, The Curse of the Ruby Necklace, where the twins are cast as extras in a movie. They meet the lead actress, who is a complete bitch but also an amazing actress who can turn on the sweetness in nothing flat.
  • In the Thursday Next universe, there's something really wrong with David Copperfield: he actually killed his first wife.
  • Animorphs had Jeremy Jason McCole in "The Reaction". The girls were fangirling all over the place for him and then they found out he was a jerk for real, and a voluntary Yeerk host.
  • In the Wildlife trilogy by Todd Strasser, Oscar Roginoff gets worse and worse with each new book. As the keyboardist (who also composed all of their music) for the Coming Attractions, he has an amazing knack for connecting with the crowd. But the audience never sees his behind-the-scenes prima-donna antics — at least until the titular book, when the band appears on an MTV segment following the last show of their final tour. Then it all goes downhill — at least for him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will ends up in a fist fight with a Barney-esque mascot when the actor inside assaults him, and is subsequently called out on it since no one knows the actor was a jerk and attacked Will first.
  • Wayne Brady's infamous sketch on Chappelle's Show had him making fun of himself and his likable, good-natured reputation as a complete mask for his true self, a violent, murderous pimp.
  • Hannah Montana
    • Pancake Buffalo. His puppeteer may have him act sweet and kind on TV, but she is skitzlefrantic to the bone. An Expy of Batman's Ventriloquist.
    • A more recurring example is Mikayla, who acts as a sweet and innocent little girl in her performances but is really a conniving, jealous bitch.
  • One episode of The Goodies had a game show host who was all charm and warmth on screen, but the moment the cameras were turned off he became a total bastard.
  • Pierre Chang of Lost seems to act like this, as he's quick to anger whenever something interrupts one of his recording sessions for another DHARMA initiation video.
    • By the end of season 5, it's clear that Pierre isn't a bad guy at all, really.
  • An episode of Family Matters has Carl forced to arrest an actor who plays a genial sitcom dad for assaulting him.
  • iCarly:
    • Done with Wade Collins. Turns out that he made up that whole 'my mother needs surgery' thing to gain sympathy from the audience. He's really an insensitive, nasty hobknocker! He's also a racist.
    • As seen in "iBloop", Miranda Cosgrove is really nothing like her character, Carly Shay, who is a nice girl; she's a hardass boss, at least toward Jerry Trainor, who plays her brother/guardian Spencer.
    • Amanda Tate from "iCarly saves TV".
  • The Victorious episode "Beck's Big Break" has Melinda Murray, whom Tori was a fan of before she met her and discovered what a major Alpha Bitch she was. When Beck was hired for a bit part in a movie that Melinda was the star in, Tori corrected her on a line and Melinda unjustly had Beck fired simply because he was Tori's friend. When Tori attempted to reason with her later, Melinda just kept on being rude and ended up getting shot through the hand with a crossbow bolt when she unintentionally shouted a cue for a stagehand to do so, resulting in her role in the movie being recast. Cue And There Was Much Rejoicing because everyone on set hated her, with everyone praising Tori for it.
  • Debbie in Psychoville may count towards this: a pantomime actress playing Snow White who, offstage, is a self-confessed porn addict and mean enough to trick a fellow cast member into posing nude in front of the rest of the cast by pretending she wanted to act out a sexual fantasy with him.
  • Aaron Echolls in Veronica Mars is an actor playing action heroes, and family men. In reality he's an abusive parent (though in his defense, his own father was way worse than he was and made him into the man he became), philandering husband, and he murdered Lilly Kane.
  • The Boy Meets World Show Within The Show "Kid Gets Acquainted with the Universe." Its lead actor is shown to be abusive to a fellow actor who plays the antagonist.
  • There was an episode of Special Unit 2 where they were investigating a Barney Expy and his TV Show. The Barney expy was great with kids and very nice, but turned out to be a brainwashing demon that fed on fear. It ended similarly to the Fresh Prince example above.
  • An episode of Gimme a Break!, Joey is a fan of a kids show host played by Paul Williams. Nell discovers that the guy is a total racist!
  • An episode of Drake & Josh had Josh act as a caretaker for a child star. While on screen she's a sweet little girl, she's really a demanding brat in real life.
  • One episode of Growing Pains had Ben meeting a nice, clean-cut rock star he idolized. Said rock star later turned out to be a total two-faced jerk who was cheating on his wife.
  • Mio Kuroki in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon appears to be a sweet, bubbly idol. However, she's really a total witch (and a shadow of a psychotic sorceress). Usagi, ever naive, thinks Mio is her friend.
  • Father Ted had a parody of Irish singer Daniel O'Donnell. Like O'Donnell, Eoin McLove is a "Housewives' Favourite" who performs quietly pleasant acoustic songs. Unlike O'Donnell, he's actually a Psychopathic Manchild.
  • Cybill
    • In one episode, Cybill's car gets towed away when she parked on Betty White's parking place. Reason: "In real life, Betty White actually isn't such a nice person."
    • The show used this trope quite a bit, especially towards child actors. Cybill herself doesn't get off too well either.
  • Pulaski The TV Detective: Character Pulaski is an upright private detective. His actor Larry Summers is a womanizing alcoholic.
  • Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the charming, sweet, homebody host of The Happy Homemaker. Almost immediately after the cameras stopped rolling, she showed herself as a nymphomaniac and something of a bitch. But she loved the role and never treated it like a joke.
  • Extras revolved around this trope, with virtually every well-known actor being portrayed, behind the scenes, as either racist, deluded, self-obsessed, drug addicted or sex-crazed.
  • The premise of Life's Too Short, where Warwick Davis plays a fictionalised version of himself who pretends to be nice but is really an arrogant, manipulative jerk.
  • In Power Rangers Dino Thunder Kira interned for "The Funky Fisherman", a kids' TV show host, who, off-camera, was demanding, pushy, and arrogant.
  • One episode of GARO: Makai Senki featured "Juran", a celebrity making his acting debut as the noble hero of a stage play. His fangirls are unaware that he is a rude, obnoxious jerk offstage. He is then devoured by a Horror and the role is taken over by its host, who charms the audiences while they have no idea that he is actually a soul-sucking demon and killed a fan who came to visit him backstage.
  • Synclaire has to deal with a star of this type during her TV job as a clown on Living Single.
  • DJ Sagara of Kamen Rider Gaim seems like a nice Large Ham on his show, but is secretly one of the villains who acts condescending to his boss and spreads propaganda. This gets played with later on when his attitude seems to depend on who he's talking to, such as being a lot nicer to the protagonist and even providing some help. In the end Sagara is a subversion: he's actually the avatar of Helheim Forest, the Alien Kudzu currently attacking Earth, and therefore isn't allied with the villains at all. Helheim is a essentially a "test" that travels the universe and sees if the races it encounters are worthy; it's a very strict test to be sure, but Sagara does everything he can to ensure that those tested have a fair chance at winning. He takes a particular shine to protagonist Kouta Kazuraba, giving the young man both his Mid-Season Upgrade and Super Mode, and at the end of the series when Kouta Takes a Third Option that spares the Earth, Sagara praises his cleverness and wishes him well before departing to find the next race to test.
  • Inside No. 9
    • One episode involves a charity (an obvious parody of the Make-a-Wish Foundation) sending a famous pop star to visit a terminally ill child on her birthday. He seems genial and charming, and is kind to the dying girl, yet doesn't bother to remember her name. After he dies suddenly from an aneurysm while blowing up a balloon for her, his assistant reveals that the guy was actually horrible to work for: rude, demanding, and complained about being asked to visit a sick child.
    • Another episode was based around Scaredy-Cam, a hidden camera prank show. Terry, the host, seems friendly on camera but is abusive towards the backstage staff and rude to the participants, as well as deliberately endangering their safety. One participant explicitly says that Terry seemed much nicer on TV than he is in real life.
  • One episode of The Beverly Hillbillies featured a wrestling match with such an actress playing a poor country girl against a brutish woman (who incidentally, was a Mean Character, Nice Actor). Not knowing that the performance was staged, when Granny saw the country girl lose, she jumped in the ring and whooped her opponent.
  • In the TV movie based on Problem Child, Junior had his heart set on a lovely blonde girl named Tiffany. Toward the very end, when he was able to get next to her, she revealed herself to be a vain Spoiled Brat. He fixed her good in the process and found a true friend in a homely girl in a witch costume.
  • Genial game show host Tom Kennedy played this version of himself on an episode of Hardcastle and McCormick.
  • Jessica Jones (2015): Trish Walker. When she's performing "It's Patsy" at a Metro General Hospital employee's kid's birthday party (as a favor to get the guy to pull up hospital files pertaining to Jessica's time at IGH), she lets out a ghast "Holy shit!" in the presence of the kids. Then she quickly hightails it out of there:
    Husband: Patsy's kinda mean...
  • Garth Marenghis Dark Place: Garth Marenghi and Dean Lister play the heroic characters Dr Rick Dagless M.D. and Thorton Reed in the eponymous Show Within a Show. However, the behind-the-scenes features make it clear that they're both extremely shady and creepy guys who imply that they're somehow involved in the death of their female costar.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt does this with a puppet. Mr. Frumpus is a beloved children's TV star, but a creep behind the scenes, engaging in indecent exposure and quid pro quo sexual harassment behind the scenes (though not with children, thankfully).
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): "Take My Life... Please!" Billy Diamond is billed as "America's Hottest Comic" and has audiences going gaga over his acts (which really aren't his). But in his Ironic Hell, he faces an audience that forces him to tell about the real him: an abusive drunk who stole the shown act from a starving young comic with a baby on the way. Oh, and he refused to pay him for it.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Showdown with Rance McGrew", whereas the fictional Marshal Rance McGrew is extremely courageous and never hesitates in the face of danger, the actor of the same name turns up late for work, snaps at the director and other members of the crew at every opportunity and demands that a stuntman be used for even the simplest scenes.
  • The Twilight Zone (2019) has Jordan Peele playing a meta version of himself in "Blurryman", where he is this. While the Narrator is mostly neutral, the "Jordan Peele" of the series is an unpleasant jerk.

    Video Games 
  • In a rare robot example, Five Nights at Freddy's features animatronics of beloved characters Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie and Chica (and Foxy, who may or may not be intended as a foe to the other three). At night, all four have one thing on their minds - killing the security guard. The sequel (no wait, the prequel), however, says that during the day the four new animatronics are just fine around children, but stare aggressively at adults.
  • Gerry Romero in Mega Man Star Force 2 is a total jerk most of the time, but when the cameras are rolling he's just the nicest guy ever...until he has the footage, at which point he disappears as quickly as possible.
  • Kenshi and the protagonist in Love Letter from Thief X are fans of actress Nahomi Sahara. They are both dismayed to learn that, in contrast to her nice-girl roles, the actress herself is a terrible person who used underhanded means to gain ownership of a priceless jeweled ring after its elderly owner died.
  • In Mass Effect 3, the Citadel DLC reveals that the hanar actor who plays Blasto is a major primma donna in real life, compared to the smooth action hero he plays on the silverscreen. Not only does he refuse to share top-billing with Shepard or Javik - who've been conned into appearing in the film - but he's rude and dismissive towards both of them, despite the former being the hero responsible for most of the real events that "Blasto" is fictionally credited for. His rudeness is also rather jarring considering that that one of the hanar's most famous hats is their unfailing politeness, especially towards Javik, since the hanar revere the Protheans as their Gods.
  • Zipper T. Bunny from Animal Crossing tries to act perky and full of catchphrases when working as the Bunny Day Rabbit, but it doesn't much conversation with him to learn he does not like his job; while he's rarely outright rude, he's usually curt and snappish when not on the job, and has little tolerance for player antics like talking to him repeatedly without doing anything. He's also weirdly defensive about the nature of the Goofy Suit he may or may not be wearing, flipping out if he thinks you're looking at his suit's zipper.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Matt Engarde from Justice For All. Even before all his horrific actions in the last case of the second game, namely hiring an assassin to kill Juan Corrida and having Phoenix blackmailed into defending him, he dumped Celeste over no particular reason, then leaked his past relationship with her to her fiance and his rival, Juan Corrida, causing Juan to break up with Celeste, who then committed suicide. Particularly ironic, since Will Powers, his mentor/predecessor, was the epitome of Badass Character, Nice Actor.
    • Juan Corrida wasn't a saint either, having both rejected Celeste and faked her suicide note due to a petty rivalry with Matt.
    • The Pink Princess and Pink Badger, aka Wendy Oldbag from Investigations.
  • Iori in Scandal in the Spotlight is known as "Prince Iori" to his fans, thanks to his gentlemanly stage persona. His real personality, however, is blunt, sardonic, and cynical. The protagonist is more than a little boggled by the contrast, and when on his route he lets the mask slip in front of some fans who've assaulted the protagonist, it adds gasoline to a backlash that escalates far enough to potentially threaten his career.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has Kaito Momota in the Show Within a Show. Throughout Danganronpa in-game, he was seen as a Nice Guy and he acts like the fortification of the group. However, his out-of-game personality was a huge Jerkass who wanted to kill everyone else and get famous. Really, every cast member (except the Token Evil Teammates and Keebo) was this, willingly and enthusiastically throwing their identities away to participate in a killing game. Pre-mindwipe Shuichi Saihara (who's also quite nice and ended up solving the murders) asked to be made into an Ultimate Detective just because no Ultimate Detective in the series so far had killed anybody and he wanted to be the first, and Kaede Akamatsu (who'd managed to unite the group and prevent any murders until Monokuma announced the time limit) openly professed her lack of faith in humanity and distrust in others.

    Webcomics 
  • Subverted in this XKCD strip, where Mr. Rogers is caught on tape while fighting with his wife. As it turns out, he really is that nice all the time.
  • Sebastian Beauregard Constantine III in YU+ME: dream , who played Jake, Fiona's best friend in the first half of the comic is rather stuck-up and, in Fiona's words, "such a douche."

    Web Original 
  • In an alternate universe version of Survival of the Fittest, with the premise that it really was just a TV show, the actor portraying Adam Dodd, arguably The Hero (Anti-Hero, at least) is depicted out of character as arrogant, selfish, womanising jackass - starkly contrasting with the character himself.
  • The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
  • The Cry of Mann: Sam Weiner plays the kind and cheerful mailman on the show, but on Tanking Mann, he's an arrogant jackass, who tries to monopolize the show and manipulate others.

    Western Animation 
  • Rugrats
    • One episode featured a children's show hostess who absolutely hated her target audience. Angelica overheard her swearing, which led to Angelica repeating it on the show and getting the hostess fired.note 
    • Another episode features an Ice Show focused on Reptar (The main cast's iconic hero,) with the guy portraying Reptar stating to his boss, and I quote:
      Leo: (...) I don't know why I took this job. I can't skate. I don't like kids. And if you want to know the actual fact, lizards give me the creeps. And that goes for your amphibians, too.
  • Similar to the above example, an episode of Family Guy involved Stewie's desire to move to Britain so he could live with the angelic Mother Maggie, the host of his favourite show "Jolly Farm Revue". But once he arrives at the BBC studio he discovers that Jolly Farm is only a set and Mother Maggie herself is a foul-mouthed fishwife who hates children.
  • The Simpsons
    • Gabbo says that his audience are "all SOBs." Made more amusing since he's a puppet and the ventriloquist operating him repeatedly begs him to stop, apparently having become Lost in Character. The incident was based on a rumor wherein a host of a children's show said "That ought to hold the little bastards for another week" without realizing that the camera was still rolling.
    • Krusty himself is often this.
    • Sideshow Bob, in his debut episode "Krusty Gets Busted", starts off as a silent stooge to Krusty, then once he takes over the show he is a beautifully eloquent and gracious host who actually wants to produce educational programming for children (though his ultra-highbow style is less child-friendly than Krusty's slapstick). But of course Bart and Lisa uncover his framing of Krusty and reveal his true colors live on air. In all his subsequent appearances he has become a murderous criminal mastermind.
    • Lisa's onetime idol Alaska Nebraska, a parody of Hannah Montana (and possibly Miley Cyrus herself) voiced by Ellen Page. A wholesome teen idol on television and in her music, Alaska Nebraska is dismissive and vain when Lisa finally gets to meet her.
  • One episode of Sushi Pack featured Sugar Jimmy, the host of a Romper Room-like kids' show. On screen he was a sugary sweet nine-year-old, but off he threw tantrums about everything, hated the chocolate bar he was hocking, and happened to be 22.
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Where No Duck Has Gone Before", Huey, Dewey, and Louie idol worship Captain Courage, hero of the TV show "Courage of the Cosmos." Uncle Scrooge owns the show and has Gyro redo it to make it more realistic. The boys go on the show and are blind to the fact that their hero is just a vain, egotistical actor. They also don't realize that Gyro made their set an actual spaceship and it launches into outer space. When they realize where they are and real aliens have captured them, Courage panics, and the boys see what a coward he really is ("real heroes just do their jobs!"). He not only panics, Courage abandons and strands a bunch of kids in space just to save his own hide.
  • DuckTales (2017) has its own jerk actor in the form of Jim Starling, who played the titular character in the Show Within a Show version of Darkwing Duck. He was idolized by Launchpad and Drake Mallard, who was to take over for him in an in-universe Darkwing Duck reboot. It turned out Jim Starling is a narcissist who only cares about reclaiming his former glory, even if it means violently attacking some security guards, the director, and the replacement that looked up to him so much. Launchpad tried his hardest to remind Jim of what his character represents while Drake Mallard tried to say how Launchpad is Jim's biggest fan and only wants what's right, but Jim Starling's Never My Fault attitude not only gave him an overwhelming hatred for the new Darkwing Duck, but he went insane and became this universe's version of Negaduck.
  • On an episode of Cyberchase, Digit gets to be on his favorite show the Fearless Chef, a cross between Iron Chef and The Amazing Race. The host of the show, the fearless chef, is kidnapped by Hacker. When Jackie and Inez go to rescue him they realize that the so-called Fearless Chef is really a complete coward.
  • Kappa Mikey:
    • In the Show Within a Show Lilymu!, female lead Lily is to act as a warm, caring, Implied Love Interest to our titular Mikey. When the cameras stop rolling, she goes back to being her Jerkass Attention Whore who hates the main character for stealing her thunder as Japan's most famous anime star. By the same token, Mikey Simon plays the heroic and totally competent Kappa Mikey, but is in fact a total well-meaning but inept Cloud Cuckoolander who's inability to effectively meld into Japanese society drives most of the show's plot.
    • Inverted with Mitsuki and Gonard. On TV they portray the team's bad girl and main villain, but in real life they're good friends to Mikey, with Mitsuki serving as Lily's Morality Pet.
  • Subverted in the Hey Arnold! episode "Eugene Goes Bad." Eugene is obsessed with TV superhero The Abdicator, but things go sour when he visits the set and sees the actor acting like a spoiled diva ("Where is mah ahpreecot joose?"). After calling the guy out, Eugene decides there's no reason to be good anymore and starts to misbehave. Meanwhile, Maurice, the actor, has his own personal crisis as he can't stop feeling guilty about the incident and letting his fans down. Eventually, he helps snap Eugene out of his rebellious phase.
  • Rocket Power also did this in the episode "The Wrath of Don." Otto Rocket idolizes the 12-year-old skateboarding "Skate Wars" movie star, Donnie Lightning. Donnie appears to be an excellent skater on screen and rather friendly, but once they come to film a "Skate Wars" movie in Ocean Shores, Otto is dismayed to learn that Donnie is a major jerk that doesn't even do his own stunts.
  • The Littles featured a variation of this in the Very Special Episode "A Little Drunk," but the movie star Kurt Corwin would only be like this because he is an alcoholic.
  • Baby Doll teeter-totters between this and Mean Character, Nice Actor in Batman: The Animated Series. Unlike most actors, whose excuses were drugs and scandals, she was a very sympathetic character. Mary Dahl was born with a rare disorder that stunted her growth, essentially making her look like a 5-year-old all the time. She starred as a the titular Baby Doll, a five-ish year old character in her 20s. Despite being a talented actress, she couldn't move on because no one could look past her looks and became a White-Dwarf Starlet. She starts the plot in kidnapping everyone because the show was the only time she was happy. Her psychological troubles are really seen when she is switching between her adult self and the persona she had. However some things she does tend to cause sympathy levels to teeter totter. One of her co-stars that she kidnapped mentioned she was difficult to work with on the set, always making extreme demands and throwing tantrums if she didn't get her way. However, this may have been foreshadowing of what would happen to Mary. After all, she looked like and had the body of a child and acted like one in her star role for most of her life. Ergo, whenever she sunk into tantrums and demands... she acted like an actual child would and probably had stunted development along with her psychological problems or at least made her very prone to mental regression.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
  • Mom from Futurama has the public image of a sweet, kindly old grandmother, but offstage is a malevolent Corrupt Corporate Executive who routinely beats her three sons into submission.
  • In Barbie in a Christmas Carol, Eden acts nice and cheerful on stage, and as soon as the curtain closes, she throws some flowers and declares she hates Christmas.
  • South Park: Mickey Mouse is a Corrupt Corporate Executive nothing like the Nice Guy he's portrayed as in his cartoons. Also he's a giant fire-breathing Kaiju from Valhalla.
  • Twinkles Sunshine, the child actress in The Hair Bear Bunch episode "Whatever Happened To Goldilocks And The Three Bears?", is built up in the press as "ever-lovable." Tell her co-stars that. She's an absolute bitchy prima donna.
  • Arnold Hugh from Aardman Animation's Stage Fright.
  • Subverted in the Pound Puppies (1980s) episode "Ghost Hounders" as, when seemingly haunted incidents plague the pound, Whopper calls his idol, TV star Biff Barker, for help. One look at the "ghosts" and Barker runs off with Whopper crushed. However, when Barker finds out the "hauntings" are all a scam to trick the Puppies into being captured, he becomes a true hero to rescue them.
  • Nom Nom from We Bare Bears is an adorable little koala who stars in cutesy viral videos. But off the camera, he's a snooty egomaniac who looks down on his fans. He's also not above trying to manipulate Grizzly, Panda, and Ice Bear in his schemes to stay in the spotlight. A few episodes do hint that Nom Nom has a Hidden Heart of Gold, like "Nom Nom's Entourage" and "Anger Management".
  • Played With in Bojack Horseman, Bojack's character in the Show Within a Show, "Horsin' Around," is a bumbling father figure who means well for his children. Initially, when starting out, he was a Humble Hero and pretty nice guy though with some problems. At the present, he is a bitter alcoholic with alot of serious issues that were his old problems, but amplified as a result of age and cynical experience. Furthermore, he tries to become a better person, but it does not come easy to him due to the psychological issues and substance abuse.
  • In World of Winx we have Ace, a genial host on camera, but off-camera, he's a short-tempered prima donna.
  • Transformers: Rescue Bots features Maven Danger, a Captain Ersatz of James Bond. When Murray Dorfhauser (who responds to "Maven" in an attempt to stay in character) shows up in Griffin Rock, he proves to be a jerk.
  • The Jem episode "One Jem Too Many" has the Misfits and Eric Raymond conspiring with Clash to have the latter disguise as Jem and portray her as being a rude, tantrum-throwing diva in the hopes of derailing her career. It was working rather well until she appeared at a big make-or-break concert to yell at and belittle the audience and was ultimately caught when it was discovered that unlike the real Jem, she couldn't carry a tune.
  • The Proud Family: the episode "Hooray for Iesha" features Sunny Stevens, who portrays the lead in the in-universe sitcom Iesha which was cancelled but renewed after Penny protests, earning her a guest role on the show. Sunny is rude and insulting to Penny and her friends, but it's because she's tired of the stress of being a TV star and wants to be a normal kid. Penny convinces her to quit the show and she does.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Chris Bradford is a martial arts superstar with a slew of movies and a cartoon series where he plays the hero. In real life, however, he's one of the Shredder's star pupils and serves him loyally.
  • Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese: In "Monster Butt", Girl is excited to meet the actress who plays her favorite TV superhero, Captain Calisto, but realizes she's a jerk when she hears the actress insulting Boy.

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