Actors Who Played Exaggerated Versions Of Themselves In Movies, Ranked By Ridiculousness

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Vote up the most distorted (but hilarious) big-screen versions of normally somewhat normal celebs.

It takes talent to do an impression of a well-known public figure, but it is almost on another level to use that skill on one's self. In these cases, actors have opted to make themselves the focal point of mockery by playing exaggerated and somewhat distorted versions of themselves for the sake of hilarity.

From Bill Murray's short cameo in Zombieland to John Malkovich's leading role as a human puppet in Being John Malkovich, here are a few examples of times an actor sacrificed their self-esteem and played a ridiculous version of themselves for the sake of art.

  • Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen's This Is the End brims with celebs making fun of themselves. The film centers on Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Jay Baruchel as they attempt to survive the apocalypse while trapped in Franco's Hollywood Hills estate. Danny McBride plays the story's antagonist as a psychotic version of himself who not only goes to war with the boys, but also takes Channing Tatum as a personal trophy. Along for the ride are Paul Rudd, Rihanna, Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, and even Emma Watson. But among all the superstars, singers, and Harry Potter stars, the real standout is Michael Cera.

    Though only briefly in the film, this drugged-out version of Cera is instantly memorable because the role is a vast departure from the hapless good-guy, nerdy roles he usually plays. Intoxicated, mean-spirited, and an overall jerk in the small amount of screen time he is allotted, Cera in This Is the End is memorable because of how unlike Cera he appears. It is a terrific turn, even for only a few moments.  

  • When I'm Still Here was initially released, it was a bit unclear if the feature was a documentary or a parody. Joaquin Phoenix's prima donna behavior both on and off the set surrounding the movie seemed unreal, but due to the outrageous nature of celebrity culture, many people just accepted it as fact. But it was all a lie.

    Beginning in 2008, Phoenix spent two years playing an exaggerated, fake version of himself in which he "retired" from acting to focus on his nonexistent "rap career." During this time, he played up the role of an impudent, spoiled celebrity for the media. Later, it was revealed to be an act created by Phoenix and his brother-in-law/co-screenwriter/director Casey Affleck. The ridiculous nature of the role derived not just from his antics, but also from the fact that he kept it up for TWO YEARS. 

  • Chuck Norris's role in Rawson Marshall Thurber's Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is a brief cameo that takes viewers completely by surprise - and stands out as perhaps one of the film's most memorable scenes. 

    Norris is known mostly for his tough-guy roles, so in Dodgeball, his simple thumbs-up gesture and a smile for the underdogs, the Average Joes, allowing them to compete in the dodgeball championship, is all that is needed for the Code of Silence star to make his mark on the comedy.

    Before this scene, it was difficult to imagine Norris even watching a comedy, much less having a cameo in one. But after that point, Dodgeball became a Chuck Norris movie.

  • In Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, in a role that led to his comeback and a leading part on the CBS show How I Met Your Mother, Neil Patrick Harris plays a drug-fueled, sex-addicted version of himself who is picked up by chance on the side of the road as Harold and Kumar attempt to find their favorite burger chain. While tripping on ecstasy, the former Doogie Howser, M.D. star takes their car, abandoning the duo in the middle of nowhere.

    The role was a massive departure for audiences who only remembered NPH as the clean-cut child prodigy from the family-friendly hour-long drama. Needless to say, the over-the-top version of Harris reignited his career and turned him into the awards-show hosting megastar we have today. 

  • At the end of Deadpool 2, Deadpool "borrows" Cable's Temporal Dial, which allows him to travel back in time to "right the wrongs of the past." Not only is the Merc with a Mouth able to save  his love Vanessa (to the tune of Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time," no less), but he also saves the life of Peter from the doomed X-Force ("Go home, sugar bear, go home"). He also uses the opportunity to kill the lesser Wade Wilson ("the Merc with No Mouth") from Wolverine: Origins. And more importantly, he meets up with Ryan Reynolds himself as he reads the script for The Green Lantern and shoots him between the eyes before he can say yes to doing the project. 

    Reynolds using Deadpool to murder previous versions of himself that made bad decisions is just a redonkulous delight. It shows that the Canadian actor/gin hustler has a great sense of humor about himself and his past blunders.

  • Nicolas Cage - 'The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent' 
    Photo: Lionsgate

    The Golden God of the Internet and All Things Strange, Nicolas Cage embraces his fandom with the meta action-comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, in which he plays a version of himself who finds it difficult to live up to the expectations of being Nicolas Cage.

    In the film, Cage is recruited by the CIA to help stop a Nic Cage superfan from possible nefarious activities. Watching Cage play himself as he shifts from one hilarious situation to another isn't just fascinating - as the actor flirts with one mental breakdown after another, he uses his renowned acting style and iconic intensity as a focal point for the film's comedy, making light of his own methods and style. 

    Massive Talent is Cage's way of letting audiences know that he's in on the joke. He gets it. And he wants you to know that.