Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Actors who play themselves

Picture - flickr.com

On Sunday, I watched Less Than Zero for the first time. I first thought the film had dated a bit over the last twenty or so years but now I think it was not that good to start with.

The 80s hip hop music works well with the White yuppie characters, at least as a novelty. But what interested me more was Robert Downey Jr's performance.

He played a drug addict very well and received praise. But then again, he plays the addict-type well in a slew of films - Natural Born Killers, Less Than Zero, Iron Man I and II, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, even in Sherlock Holmes.

He is famous for making it through stints of drug rehabilitation, which adds to my question; does he often play himself? Perhaps this does not matter. He's an entertaining character in public, given his televised interviews, so he can translate that to the screen and entertain viewers.

He isn't the only actor or actress to play themselves, I posit.

Ben Affleck is maybe more renowned for being Ben Affleck in every film he decides to show his smug mug in. I am being a bit hard on Ben though. I did enjoy some of his performances such as those in Mallrats, Good Will Hunting, State of Play and Boiler Room but there are, at most, two Afflecks. They are aggro-confident Affleck in Good Will Hunting and State of Play and very-agro-confident Affleck in Mallrats and Boiler Room.

This is not limited to men. Julia Roberts is often the woman in charge, while Sandra Bullock is, Sandra Bullock.

But I reckon Jack Nicholson is the king of people who play themselves. Jack does cranky and arrogant and mixes of the two and he's the master of both, which is why we keep watching his films.

So not everybody can play characters like Meryl Streep, Christian Bale, John C Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman can.

As long as they all come together, our films will be entertaining.

Alistair Anderson

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