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Starring a Star as a Star

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A Cast the Expert subtrope of Meta Casting, this is where a famous actor — the kind of person the average person would recognize on the street — is cast to play the part of a fictional similarly famous actor (or a fictionalized version of a historically famous actor), i.e. an actor that the average person in the fictional universe of the story would recognize on the street.

The fictional actor is probably somewhat different in both personal characteristics and acting predilections from the real-life actor playing the part. And so, the actor playing the part really has to carry a doubled acting load, playing the fictional actor engaging in the factional actor's 'off-screen' behavior, and portraying the fictional actor's 'acting.'

There are a couple of things going on in these roles. Firstly, it's easy to buy the idea that the character is a famous actor because we look at the screen and see, hey, famous actor (though it'd be interesting to catalogue examples of relatively unknown actors playing the role of a famous actor). Secondly, there's always a great opportunity for some wry Actor Allusion to the actual career of the portrayer. Thirdly, the roles themselves are usually trope storms, either of the actors falling into out-of-bounds wackiness detached from the reality of normal people, or the counter-trope of actors being normal people trying to live normal lives amidst the glare of fame and unusual work pressures.

Some disconcertment may arise when a famous actor plays a famous actor alongside another famous actor playing an average person — for example, in The Hard Way, Michael J. Fox is paired up with James Woods, with Fox playing a famous actor and Woods playing the typical rogue action cop. In Notting Hill, Julia Roberts plays a star who trysts with an average bookseller — played by Hugh Grant.

Where the star played by the star is the star themself (albeit a comically overplayed version of themself), then you have Adam Westing.


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