This Friday, Nicolas Cage takes on the role of his life: Nicolas Cage. The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent sees Cage getting caught up in arms-dealing intrigue after accepting a $1 million offer to attend a wealthy fan’s birthday party. The unfolding predicament forces him to become the action hero his fan worships, even if that hero only exists in movies.
Director, co-writer, and Cage megafan Tom Gormican’s film is certainly not the first time that a celebrity stepped in front of the cameras to reference or riff on their persona, or straight-up play themselves on screen. But fictional or autobiographical, it’s a dicey proposition. If you play too close to yourself, you run the risk of creating a vanity project; if you goof on your image and do so effectively, people might think you’re that person in real life. Ahead of The Bearable Weight Of Massive Talent and its tribute to Cage, The A.V. Club took a look back through film history for some good, bad, and occasionally underwhelming actor and celebrity self-portraits.