Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

5 Shows in Which Actors Play Worse Versions of Themselves

Photo of Alison Willmore By Alison Willmore | Indiewire April 12, 2012 at 10:30AM

Plenty of television shows have their stars, often comedians, playing fictionalized versions of themselves -- it's the simplest way to translate a stand-up act or other public persona to a scripted situation, from "The Jack Benny Show" to "The Cosby Show" to "Everybody Loves Raymond." But someone taking a regular gig that's centered around skewering him- or herself is a more contemporary phenomenon. Maybe it's because in this showbiz-savvy, invasive tabloid-happy era, we feel iike we have more a sense of an actor's private self (merited or not) and so are in on the joke, or maybe it's because there's no one you get freer rein to come down hard on than yourself.
1
James Van Der Beek in 'Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23'
Adam Larkey/ABC James Van Der Beek in 'Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23'

Plenty of television shows have their stars, often comedians, playing fictionalized versions of themselves -- it's the simplest way to translate a stand-up act or other public persona to a scripted situation, from "The Jack Benny Show" to "The Cosby Show" to "Everybody Loves Raymond." But someone taking a regular gig that's centered around skewering him- or herself is a more contemporary phenomenon. Maybe it's because in this showbiz-savvy, invasive tabloid-happy era, we feel iike we have more a sense of an actor's private self (merited or not) and so are in on the joke, or maybe it's because there's no one you get freer rein to come down hard on than yourself.

The latest performer to embrace this idea is James Van Der Beek, who plays "himself" on the new sitcom "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23," the smarmy friend of Krysten Ritter's Chloe, still using his "Dawson's Creek" fame to get girls and lower-tier acting gigs (in real life, Van Der Beek's married with two kids and, you know, is a regular on a new network comedy). Here's a look at some other shows that have featured actors playing nastier, more inconsiderate, less successful or more embarrassing versions of themselves -- and not just in self-mocking cameos, but as cast members.

Larry David in "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

The "Seinfeld" co-creator took that show's abrasive themes to even greater highs and lows when staring in his own series on HBO in which he plays "Larry David," a semi-retired TV guy who doesn't know the meaning of letting something go. Much, if not all, of the action in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" depends on David's unwillingness or inability to change his behavior for the benefit of other people. It's both excruciating and fun to watch, but if someone were to act like that in real life, it could only be excruciating. As David told Rolling Stone, "As crazy as this person is, I could step into those shoes right now, but I would be arrested or I'd be hit or whatever."


Jennifer Grey in "It's Like, You Know..."

Created by Peter Mehlman, another "Seinfeld" alum, this short-lived sitcom starred Chris Eigeman as a devoted New Yorker who heads to L.A. to stay with his well-to-do friend and write a book trashing the town. That friend's neighbor? "Dirty Dancing" lead Jennifer Grey, whose career never recovered from her getting a nose job that changed her appearance enough to leave her unrecognizable. That fateful rhinoplasty became part of her character's storyline on the show, though the joke lost a lot of its lustre when it became evident the series wasn't going anywhere -- self-deprecation's easier to laugh at when there's clear evidence countering it.

This article is related to: Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, Television, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David, Life's Too Short, Warwick Davis, Steve Coogan, The Trip, Jennifer Grey, It's Like, You Know..., Louie, Louis C.K., TV Features






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More