Neil Patrick Harris & The Second Life of Celebrities

By Peter Rizzo

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Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the second in the film franchise, contains ten minutes of epic cinema gold. While stranded in the wilderness the perpetually daft duo attempt to hitchhike only to be picked up by none other than Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser MD).
What follows is Neil Patrick Harris acting as Neil Patrick Harris. As in the characters in the movie are aware that he is a person from real life with acting experience, when in fact he is playing an exaggerated version of himself on film. One that quite hilariously is prone to boozing, tripping, whorehouses and branding prostitutes.

This new type of film role has come up often in film lately as it has become more common for comedies to use the cult status of an actor as a form of humor. The humor at its crudest exists with this simple premise. Wouldn’t it be funny if ____ (insert cult movie actor) did ____ (insert whatever seems least likely for said celebrity to actually do).

The most notable forms of this new type of casting have been in some of the most recent blockbuster comedies. Ryan Seacrests famous breakdown on the E! set in the movie Knocked Up was a written part, and Seacrest was playing on the preconcieved notions of the audience. Elsewhere in the final scenes of Dogdeball, not only does David Hasslehoff provide the inspiration for the German team, but the final decision about the match is left to none other than Chuck Norris.

There times in history where this level of celebrity could not be achieved. Adam West struggled for years in Hollywood to break away from his Batman image only to end up years later as the deranged mayor of Quahog in Family Guy. And for further examples of what it was like for typecast actors you need to only watch Ben Affleck’s movie “Hollywoodland” about the mysterious death of Superman actor George Reeves.

With the advent of reality TV though, all this has changed. New types of roles exist for these celebrities to do quite well for themselves. Some like Flavor Flav, Adam West and William Shatner eventually parlay this exposure and likability into latter success finding homes on Television, commercials or what have you.

Some Top Actor Playing Themselves Moments:

1) Neil Patrick Harris in the new “Harold & Kumar”
2) Pam Anderson acting better than ever fighting of the marraige bag in “Borat”

3) Lance Armstrongs Speech about quitting in “Dodgeball”
4) Alice Cooper “we’re not worthy” in “Wayne’s World”
5) David Bowie MCs the walk-off in Zoolander

feel free to add to the list with some other celeb cameo moments…