3 Actors on Playing Themselves in Film

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What if you were asked to play yourself on the silver screen or stage? Would that sound like a blast right from the start or you would be a bit skeptical, needing to investigate the project with caution? Here are three actors who indeed were given the opportunity to play themselves sharing what it was that made them jump onboard the project.

Nicolas Cage on playing Nicolas Cage: “I wanted no part of it.”

Nicolas Cage was repeatedly offered a role in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a movie in which a fictionalized Nick Cage begrudgingly accepts $1 million in exchange for attending a birthday of a billionaire super fan. Cage told The Hollywood Reporter“I wanted no part of it.”

He was convinced the dark comedy-action film would mock a fake version of himself along with some of his iconic cinematic performances. Writer/director Tom Gormican was persistent though, penning a letter to Cage about his intentions for the film.

“When I got Tom’s letter, then I thought … there is a real interest in some of [my] earlier work,” Cage recalls. He noted the celebratory tone towards some of Nick’s unforgettable screen moments like being at the bottom of the pool in Leaving Las Vegashis Oscar-winning performance.

One of the draws that eventually won over the eccentric star was a second character named Nicky who the real Nick describes as his younger “obnoxious, irreverent, arrogant” version of himself. The roles Cage plays in the film are definitely not an accurate portrayal of the real Nicolas Cage. Some differences include how in real life Cage is more of a family man as opposed to the film. I also said to Tom, ‘I don’t use that much profanity.’ He’s got me saying the F-bomb every other sentence. Where’s this coming from? That’s not me. He said, ‘Neurotic Nick Cage is the best Nick Cage.’ I have a lot of quiet moments at home with just my cat, reading. Do we want to show any of that? No, because that’s not fun.”

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent premiered at South by Southwest in March and is scheduled to be released in US movie theaters on April 22nd.

John Malkovich thought Being John Malkovich should star Tom Cruise.

John Malkovich famously played a satirical variation of himself in the 1999 Spike Jonze fantasy comedy Being John Malkovich, exploring the psyche of an American actor. John was in California, about to return to Europe when he called his production office and asked his friend, “Is there anything for me to read at the office?” Malkovich remembers, “There was kind of a long pause, and he goes, ‘Oh, I’ve got something for you to read!” Upon reading the screenplay, Malkovich thought it was fantastic, but he was more interested in directing the indie and having it star Tom Cruise. But the writer Charlie Kaufman wasn’t having any of that; he insisted it had to be Malkovich. John passed on the role as he was already busy with other projects, and he believed the film would never get made. About six years passed before Malkovich ended up accepting the role. “Eventually we did it, and honestly I was just happy to be a part of it.”

Keanu Reeves took a moment away from John Wick to act in a comedy.

Keanu Reeves portrayed a version of himself in the Netflix film Always Be My Maybe. He plays one of the love interests of Sasha played by Ali Wong. Wong recalls about the casting, “[Keanu] was always our first choice.” But she and cos-star Randall Park were convinced the superstar would never accept the part. “It was such a long shot. There was no way he was going to say yes to this,” Park said. Apparently, Reeves had watched Ali Wong’s Baby Cobra stand-up special because he wrote them back by quoting a line from the show: “I would be honored to be a part of your love story.” Reeves later said about his role, “It was really a wonderful opportunity.”

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