borrowed characters in movies
August 7, 2007 7:55 PM   Subscribe

What are some movies that feature a character from another movie, played by the same actor -- but the movies do not have sequel or spinoff relationships, and are not written or directed by the same person? Does this ever happen?

For example, if Judd Apatow made a movie that included the character Ronnie Dobbs, played by David Cross. My wife and I can't think of this ever happening. Are we missing something obvious?
posted by luser to Media & Arts (46 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There is a Steven Soderberg flick called "the limey" with terrance stamp where stamp's character is an older version of a character he played in a much earlier film by a different director. The film used footage of the earlier movie for flashback sequences.
posted by Good Brain at 8:04 PM on August 7, 2007

Back to the Beach featured Bob Denver, clearly in the character of Gilligan, although not named as such.

Perhaps a reach, but: Jerry (the mouse of Tom & Jerry) teamed with Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh.
posted by SPrintF at 8:10 PM on August 7, 2007

The Scooby Doo gang showed the Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (not named as such but it was them). They also showed up in the Venture Brothers.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:29 PM on August 7, 2007

TV, not movie, but: Richard Belzer has played Detective John Munch in several shows, including Law and Order: SVU, Sesame Street, and Arrested Development.
posted by sugarfish at 8:31 PM on August 7, 2007

Oh, also, the X Files and Homicide.
posted by sugarfish at 8:34 PM on August 7, 2007

How about Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, where Bela Lugosi is Dracula and Lon Chaney Jr. plays The Wolf Man?

Unfortunately, Frankenstein is not played by Boris Karloff, but I think it still meets the criteria you set above (not really a true sequel or spinoff).

I think that just about any situation like this is going to be played for comedic/ironic effect (like the Bob Denver example given above)
posted by freshgroundpepper at 8:34 PM on August 7, 2007

In Jackie Brown, directed by Quentin Tarantino, Michael Keaton plays Ray Nicolette, a federal agent. In Out of Sight, directed by Steven Soderbergh, Michael Keaton shows up again playing Nicolette.

The films are not "spin-offs" of each other, but it's the same character -- both films are based on books written by Elmore Leonard.

Cameron Crowe has Eric Stoltz appear in just about every one of his movies, although he's only credited in three -- Say Anything, Singles and Jerry Maguire. While he's always playing different characters, it's always the same character in spirit -- a guy that comes along and drops some mini-bombshell of knowledge on the main character that affects his thinking later in the movie.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:36 PM on August 7, 2007

MIchael Keaton played the same character in Soderbergh's Out of Sight and Tarantino's Jackie Brown, but they're both based on Elmore Leonard books, so that's iffy.
posted by jessenoonan at 8:37 PM on August 7, 2007

Like Cool Papa Bell said, on preview...
posted by jessenoonan at 8:38 PM on August 7, 2007

Perhaps a reach, but: Jerry (the mouse of Tom & Jerry) ...

By that same reach, just about every cartoon character ever made showed up in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:39 PM on August 7, 2007

Does Wings of Desire qualify? Peter Falk plays himself shooting an episode (or movie) of Columbo.
posted by alms at 8:39 PM on August 7, 2007

And of course John Munch could appear in all those different shows because they were all in the mind of Tommy Westphall.
posted by jessenoonan at 8:40 PM on August 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm sure it's happened in a number of parody movies like Airplane, etc. Not that I have specific examples.
posted by o0o0o at 8:44 PM on August 7, 2007

Oh yeah, one of my dad's favorite things: in the Patrick Stewart movie Safe House, he is menaced by the mailman/assassin from Three Days of the Condor.
posted by jessenoonan at 8:45 PM on August 7, 2007

Does it count that, in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Neil Patrick Harris makes an appearance and they say "Doogie?" (cause, ya know, he played Doogie Howser)

and doctor_negative pointed out a J&SB reference, I say the "stoner guy" in Freddy vs jason was a Jay ripoff.

If you count parody references - look at Wayne's World 1 & 2. I know there's at least a T-1000 (Terminator 2) reference in there.
posted by revmitcz at 8:49 PM on August 7, 2007

Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson appeared as their Dawson's Creek characters in Muppets From Space.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:57 PM on August 7, 2007

Jay & Silent Bob (who usually appear in movies written and directed by Kevin Smith) have a cameo in Scream 3 (written by Ehren Kruger, directed by Wes Craven).
posted by kisch mokusch at 8:59 PM on August 7, 2007

Not exactly the same character, but in The Freshman, Marlon Brando plays a character whose resemblance to Vito Corleone is remarked on throughout the movie.
posted by timeistight at 9:01 PM on August 7, 2007

Brando reprising Don Corleonish character in The Freshman with Matthew Broderick?

I can't remember whether the character was actually named Don Coreleone or whether it was something more parodic.
posted by HeroZero at 9:03 PM on August 7, 2007

Violates your "same director" rule, but you have Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche in Trading Places make a cameo appearance in Coming to America....
posted by aberrant at 9:14 PM on August 7, 2007

This isn't quite what you want but it's close: George C. Scott in Patton and in Taps.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:17 PM on August 7, 2007

Dang, thought I had it for a second: Harvey Keitel played The Cleaner in Point of No Return [a.k.a. The Assassin] as well as in Pulp Fiction but on further research found out they have different names though obviously the same character: Victor in Point of No Return and Winston in Pulp Fiction.

So close.
posted by meech at 9:55 PM on August 7, 2007

This kind of thing happens in TV a lot. I'm thinking of the character of Ursula Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) in "Mad About You" and "Friends." I guess the connection was that those two shows were on the same network, but "Friends" (which came later) is definitely not a spinoff from "Mad About You."
posted by lou at 10:21 PM on August 7, 2007

Robert Patrick's liquid Terminator in police uniform showed up (sort of jokingly, admittedly) in two unrelated movies as it can be read there.

Also, not a movie but TV: Frank Black (Lance Henriksen's extraordinary character from that jewel of a series, Millenium) showed up in an episode of X-Files. Yes, both series were developed by sort-of-related creative teams but up to that point they happened in quite different fictional universes.
posted by Iosephus at 10:42 PM on August 7, 2007

Freddy Krueger's hand shows up at the end of Jason Goes To Hell.

I don't mind spoiling Jason Goes To Hell for people, by the way. Don't even get me started on how ridiculous the character of Creighton Duke is - it's one thing to even BE a notable character in a Jason movie, let alone to be a notably bad one.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:54 PM on August 7, 2007

Lawrence Furbish played Frankenstein's Monster in Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove. He will play the same role in the upcoming Pox.
posted by tellurian at 10:55 PM on August 7, 2007

Harry Caul brilliantly reappears in Enemy of the State...
posted by growabrain at 11:10 PM on August 7, 2007

Gotta disagree with alms - Peter Falk does play famous actor Peter Falk in Wings of Desire, but the movie he's shooting is a WWII drama, not anything Columbo-related.
posted by ormondsacker at 11:15 PM on August 7, 2007

John Carradine played Dracula many times (from 1944 to 1979).
posted by tellurian at 11:24 PM on August 7, 2007

Peter O'Toole played Henry II in the Oscar-winning films Becket, directed by Peter Glenville, and The Lion in Winter, directed by Anthony Harvey. The playwrights/screenwriters are also different.
posted by obloquy at 11:56 PM on August 7, 2007

Anthony Rapp and Adam Goldberg appear together as nerdy friends in Dazed and Confused. The same two actors appear in A Beautiful Mind, also as nerdy friends of the lead character. It's not exactly the definition, but the casting and usage of the two actors in such similar roles really stands out.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:46 AM on August 8, 2007

Dan Aykroyd does a cameo as Ray Stanz from Ghostbusters in Casper, and Danny Glover turns up as a bank robber in Maverick as a bank robber.

As I remember it, Mel Gibson wrestles him to the ground, and Danny Glover quips, "I'm too old for this shit", his catchphrase from the Lethal Weapons movies.
posted by unmusic at 1:04 AM on August 8, 2007

Dang preview. "Bank robber" once, obviously.
posted by unmusic at 1:05 AM on August 8, 2007

Jay & Silent Bob were in Dogma too - not sure if they count though.
posted by missmagenta at 5:04 AM on August 8, 2007

In bukes - Brett Easton Ellis' The Laws of Attraction has a reference to "those creepy Classics kids, off in the woods performing human sacrifice or whatever" who are of course Donna Tartt's conspirators in The Secret History.

Also, and here's a book/film crossover - Patrick Bateman works in the same fictional stockbroking firm as Sherman McCoy in the Bonfire of the Vanities (which is by Tom Wolfe).
posted by tiny crocodile at 5:58 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

revmitcz already got it, but in Wayne's World (1) the dude from Terminator 2 pulls Wayne over, marches up to him, shows him the picture of the boy with the lines "Have you seen this boy?"

Wayne screams at the camera and then drives off. Love that scene.
posted by devilsbrigade at 6:29 AM on August 8, 2007

If you're missing something obvious, it might be when people play themselves. Sportscaster Stu Nahan, for example, appears as the same character--Stu Nahan--in most-if-not-all of the Rocky movies, and also Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I don't know what possessed me to pick Stu Nahan as the example.
posted by box at 7:52 AM on August 8, 2007

In The Color of Money, Paul Newman plays an older-wiser version of his character from The Hustler. The later movie doesn't explicitly reference the first one in the manner of a sequel (IIRC--been a long time) but the connection is obvious.

Curtis Armstrong's character from Better Off Dead (Charles de Mar) basically reappeared intact in Revenge of the Nerds, though under a different name. Clearly he was cast in that movie to do the same schtick. Don't know if that counts, or if that's just plain-old typecasting. 'Cuz if that counts, half of all Bruce Willis movies star the same character.

I'm sure there's a lot of stuff like this in Hollywood with minor characters as in-jokes, where the same guy always gets cast as "Stoned-out Convenience Store Clerk" or whatever, but we just don't know about it.

Amusing side-note: Bruce Campbell appears in all the Spider Man movies, but as different characters.
posted by adamrice at 8:15 AM on August 8, 2007

As for Wings of Desire, its sequel, Far Away, So Close! features Peter Falk as himself pretending to be scouting a location for a movie of Columbo.

Wings of Desire features Nick Cave as himself, and Far Away, So Close! features Lou Reed as himself and Gorbachev as himself, but those aren't really "borrowed characters," unless you consider Lou Reed to be a character created by Lou Reed.

William Shatner always plays James T. Kirk in everything.

In Mallrats, someone calls Shannen Doherty "Brenda" at one point (referring to her 90210 character).
posted by The World Famous at 8:49 AM on August 8, 2007

Like Lou says, this is a very sit-com-ish move. I think I remember Urkel showing up on Step by Step once. It's the kind of thing that shows they're all in the same fictional universe (what's the theory about all TV being a dream of an autistic kid or something?), but they didn't start off as necessarily related shows. It's very Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, very Freddy vs. Jason.

I did think of one movie instance though, heaven help me. Rob Schneider shows up as Nazo the delivery man in both Big Daddy and Mr. Deeds, despite the other actors all playing different characters. The latter instance was a true cameo--brief and officially uncredited, but it's unmistakably the same character.
posted by lampoil at 8:57 AM on August 8, 2007

William Shatner plays TJ Hooker in Showtime. I can't remember if the characters call him Bill or TJ but IMDB has him billed as TJ Hooker.
posted by Mitheral at 9:26 AM on August 8, 2007

Does voice acting count? A lot of the recognizable cartoon characters in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Mickey Mouse, Yosemite Sam, etc.) were performed by actors who had voiced them many, many times before. For instance, Betty Boop was voiced by Mae Questel, who had been playing her since 1930.
posted by brundlefly at 11:29 AM on August 8, 2007

Characters have been shared between soap operas. Molly and Jake moved from (I think) Another World to As the World Turns, even though the shows were on different networks. Not sure how that was managed. On the same network, 'The Bold and Beautiful' shares a lot of characters with 'The Young and The Restless'.
posted by happyturtle at 11:48 AM on August 8, 2007

The 1993 Beverly Hillbillies movie (based, of course, on the TV series starring Buddy Ebsen) featured Buddy Ebsen as his other major TV character, Barnaby Jones.
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:17 PM on August 8, 2007

In Kill Bill, Sonny Chiba plays famous sword maker Hattori Hanzo after playing a character with the same name on the '80's Japanese TV show, "Hattori HanzĂ´: Kage no Gundan" .

Apparently the Hattori Hanzo name is sort of like "The Dread Pirate Roberts" - a name passed down to different individuals. Or maybe it was different generations of one lineage.

Anyway, it's technically not the same character, since Chiba played several versions of Hanzo througout the TV show and movie. But it fits pretty much what you're looking for IMO.
posted by joemax at 2:25 PM on August 8, 2007

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