5 Celebrities Who Starred as Themselves in Horror Movies
Halloween is right around the corner, which means now is the perfect time to binge a couple classic horror films. Movies such as the Halloween franchise, Us and Midsommar will never go out of style, and that’s because so many people enjoy the panic-inducing intrigue of slashers or the blood-pumping anxiety brought on by a slow-burning thriller.
Actors such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Patrick Wilson, Neve Campbell and countless others have made a name for themselves as staples in horror cinema, whether they’re veritable scream queens and scream kings, or just recurring faces in the genre.
While there will always be some terrifying mainstays in the genre, other actors have made brief cameos in beloved horror movies. Some of those cameos have even found said actors playing themselves, from Channing Tatum’s run as a sex slave version of himself in This Is the End or Jennifer Tilly’s very meta turn as herself in Seed of Chucky.
Below, here’s a list of five actors who played themselves in cult-classics over the years.
Bill Murray (Zombieland, 2009)
Bill Murray is certainly known for his comedy chops, but the Caddyshack actor has also dabbled in spooky-adjacent projects such as the Ghostbusters franchise. That previous experience made him a brilliant addition to the cast of the 2009 zombie comedy Zombieland. In the film, he plays a version of himself that is dressed like the undead to safely live out the zombie apocalypse, and appears alongside Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg.
Although Murray was obviously the perfect star for the cameo role, he wasn’t the first choice. Writers for the project originally asked Dirty Dancing legend Patrick Swayze if he wanted to make a cameo. Unfortunately, he was unable to get to set, according to The Independent. Harrelson helped the team land Murray, and his bit part became a favorite with critics and fans alike. A critic for the Austin Chronicle even dubbed Murray’s appearance the “single most outrageously entertaining and unexpected celebrity camoe of any film — genre or otherwise — this filmgoer has seen in a long, long time.”
Bruce Campbell (My Name Is Bruce, 2007)
Bruce Campbell has made a name for himself by appearing in a bevy of cult classic films, most notably his lead role as Ash in the original Evil Dead franchise. Although his résumé is impressive, the actor has also worked on plenty of low-budget films. That includes the time he spoofed himself in the self-directed horror-comedy My Name Is Bruce.
Released in 2007, the film tells the tale of a low-budget star who winds up trying to save the day in a real-life nightmare situation after being kidnapped by fans of his work from the Evil Dead franchise.
Sadly, the effort wasn’t an overwhelming success. In fact, it earned a 38 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. However, a sequel has been teased, according to Movie Web.
Jennifer Tilly (Seed of Chucky, 2004)
Jennifer Tilly earned her status as a classic scream queen by playing the role of Tiffany Valentine, also known as the Bride of Chucky. She introduced the character in 1998’s Bride of Chucky, and has reprised the role multiple times across the years, including an appearance in this year’s Chucky TV series.
Interestingly, the actor pulled double duty by playing both Tiffany and a fictionalized version of herself in 2004’s Seed of Chucky. She explained the double casting and “very silly script” in an interview, according to Movie Web. “I play the doll, the little homicidal doll, and then I also play myself, Jennifer Tilly, international star of film.” She added that it was fun to double up as she was able to make fun of herself.
Her role playing herself in the cult classic earned Tilly a nomination in the Best Frightened Performance category at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards.
Channing Tatum (This Is the End, 2013)
Channing Tatum was riding high on the success of hit projects such as 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike in the early 2010s. In 2013, the action hero starred in White House Down. That’s also the year he mixed things up and showed off more of his comedic chops by picking up a bit part playing himself in Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s horror-comedy, This Is the End.
In the no-holds-barred, NSFW apocalyptic comedy, Tatum plays fellow actor Danny McBride’s sex slave and wears a gimp mask. Rogen convinced him to take the role by sending over a very convincing email, according to GQ. Tatum later joked with Conan O’Brien that he “must have been on Ambien and drunk” when he agreed to appear in the film.
While his scene was a win with most viewers, it was apparently upsetting to another of the film’s celebrity cameos: Emma Watson. Rumors swirled that the Harry Potter alum walked off set and refused to shoot a scene with Tatum and McBride. Rogen seemingly confirmed the story in an interview with British GQ. However, he made it very clear that there was no bad blood.
Robert Englund (Wes Craven's New Nightmare, 1994)
Robert Englund rose to fame playing the villainous, supernatural serial killer Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. He first introduced the wicked character in 1984 and has played him multiple times over the years. His tenure as Freddy includes 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason, when the character faced off against the equally iconic Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th franchise.
But arguably one of his boldest turns in the franchise takes place in 1994’s meta horror flick Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, in which he plays both Freddy and a real-life version of himself. The film features appearances from several of the franchise’s other classic actors playing themselves too, and netted a 79 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In an interview with Coming Soon, Englund referred to the film as a return to form after the previous release (1991’s Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare) “jumped the shark.” He also referred to New Nightmare as his favorite. “I think it stands the test of time, a fun reunion with original cast members,” he said. The actor added that the film was an original ”self-referential horror story.”