I’m playing myself only worse

Celebrating the least-flattering self-depictions of movie stars

Viewers have grown tired of seeing celebrities play super-nice versions of themselves on shows like The Simpsons . Now we’re starting to appreciate the self-mocking performances of celebrities who are brave enough to exaggerate their own uselessness for our amusement. Check out these shows which presumably had more than a few moments of the actors reading their scripts for the first time and saying “ouch.”

David Hasselhoff in Piranha 3DD (2012). A washed-up celebrity (The Hoff playing himself) is hired to open a chintzy water park staffed with strippers. He loses an argument with a small child and remembers the days when he didn’t have to take jobs like this. “Welcome to rock bottom” he says sadly to himself. He’s not talking about the water park though; he’s talking about Piranha 3DD a film devoid of pride. Plenty of monster fish and bare tits though.

Luis Guzman in I Kicked Luis Guzman in the Face (2008). Yes that is the title of a real film. It’s a 20-minute short viewable online (Google it) and it fulfils the promise of the title. Mister Guzman proves himself one hell of a good sport by playing himself here. You can also see him self-portrayed in the excellent sitcom Community (2009-) both as a statue and as a living organism.

Ben Affleck in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001). B-fleck actually plays more than one role in this silly comedy and really seems to be having a great time. He also seems surprisingly cool with a script (written by buddy Kevin Smith) in which a film studio’s security team has a code number for “disappearing a dead hooker from Ben Affleck’s trailer.” When somebody calls in a 10-07 Ben chimes in with “No bullshit because I wasn’t with a hooker today! Haha!”

Jennifer Tilly in Seed of Chucky (2004). In Bride of Chucky (1998) a film that wisely plays the already sequeled-to-death and no-longer-scary franchise for knowing laughs Jen is hysterical as a murderess who brings Chucky back to life and who winds up as a possessed dolly herself. Six years later Seed brings back Chuck and Tiff and throws in Tilly as herself an aging actress struggling to remain relevant who gets caught up in the killer doll’s shenanigans. She tries to further her career by sleeping with a director (Redman also playing himself) curses the success of Julia Roberts (“I should have played Erin Brockovich! I could have done it without a Wonderbra!”) and is the subject of relentless “has-been” comments and (completely unwarranted) fat jokes.

Matt LeBlanc in Episodes (2011-). A pair of married writers come to Hollywood to film an Americanized version of their award-winning British sitcom. They are horrified by the stupid changes the producers insist on making to their show. The first (and worst) offence — casting Friends star Matt LeBlanc! Everything goes from bad to worse with Matt on board as the once-clever scripts become hackneyed and Matt’s disastrous personal life takes over. LeBlanc has won a Golden Globe for this performance; a role in which he is required to look hurt while people crack jokes about Joey (2004) and that stupid movie about the baseball-playing chimp.

William Shatner in Free Enterprise (1998). A pair of lifelong Star Trek fans learn the ghastly truth; that in real life Shatner is a bit of a doofus. The Shat reads porn pitches an all-Shatner version of Julius Caesar and raps. After this Shatner started parodying himself frequently and to great effect. Funny stuff!

Steve Coogan in Coffee and Cigarettes (2005). Playing an arrogant philandering self-centred version of himself was so appealing to Steve Coogan that he did it again in Tristram Shandy (2005) The Trip (2010) and Darkwood Manor (2011). He’ll probably make a career out of playing this character.

Carl Weathers in Arrested Development (2004-2013). “Whoa! There’s still plenty o’ meat on that bone! You take this home throw it in a pot add some broth a potato; you got a stew going!”

Timothy Stack in My Name is Earl (2005-2009). Camden County’s own “big celebrity” is “TV’s Tim Stack” which is why the cops let him get away with drunk driving. “He’ll be fine once he gets past the school.”

Bruce Campbell in My Name is Bruce (2007). The iconic Evil Dead star reduced to drinking whisky from a dog dish?! Who directed this drivel? Oh dear Bruce Campbell directed himself? That’s it then this is the single most insulting self-performance ever. Congratulations Bruce!