Why Are So Many Actors Playing Themselves This Fall?

Studio 360

Remember when there were back-to-back animated moviesabout insects? When we had two moodymagicians in as manymonths?Or last year, when we got a pair ofactionadventures involving attacks on the White House? Sometimes good ideas (or just ideas) come in twos --- or, in this case, sixes.

This fall we have six opportunities to discover what it's like to be an aging, washed-up actor.Al Pacino, Robin Wright, Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, Ryan Phillippe, and Juliette Binoche will all tackle thetoughestroles of their careers: themselves.Sure, they're not really washed-up in real life, and they're not all that old. But each hassurely had to deal (asseveral have admitted in interviews) with the same trials and tribulations as their characters: paycheck gigs, fewer desirable scripts, pressure to conceal aging.

Is this a cry for help? An attempt to negotiate better health coveragefrom SAG? A symptom of the age of over-sharing? Or maybe having that secondcareer in cable as a back-up plan has made everyone a little more comfortable with having a laugh at being a movie star.

1. The Congress

Actor: Robin Wright
Character: Robin Wright
Plot: An aging, out-of-work actress accepts the ultimate paycheck role --- selling her identity, likeness, and a digital version of herself to a movie studio for use in perpetuity. Easily the mostadventurousof the six releases this fall.
Release:August 29

2. Maps to the Stars

Actor: Julianne Moore
Character: Havana Segrand
Plot: Havana is a fadingactress who may have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her late movie star mother. Now she wants to shoot a remake of the movie that made mom famous. David Cronenberg directs, and Moore baitsOscar.
Release: September 27

3. Clouds of Sils Maria

Actor: Juliette Binoche
Character: Maria Enders
Plot:At the peak of her career, Maria is asked to star in a revival of the play that made her famous 20 years earlier. But this time she's playing the older character in the production. This leads to a fair amount of reflecting, sometimes with the help of her loyal assistant Valentine, played by Kristen Stewart. Binoche and Stewart! Who'd have thought?
Release: October 8

4. Catch Hell

Actor: Ryan Phillippe
Character: Reagon Pearce
Plot: Reagon is a washed-up actor kidnapped on the way to set in Shreveport, Louisiana. "From the Producer of Saw" and "Starring and Directed by Ryan Phillippe" are the selling points in the trailer. Also: there will be gators.
Release: October 10

5. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Actor: Michael Keaton
Character: Riggan Thomson
Plot: A washed-up actor (who onceplayed an iconic superhero) attempts to overcome his ego in order to build a big Broadway comeback. Directed by Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu and co-starring Emma Stone, Edward Norton, and Zach Galifianakis, this maybe the horse on which to place your bets.
Release: October 17

6. The Humbling

Actor: Al Pacino
Character: Simon Axler
Plot: Al Pacino plays Al Pacino playing an aged and addled actor named Simon Axler. His world is turned upside down after an affair with a lesbian played by Greta Gerwig. The sole Phillip Roth adaptation of the bunch.
Release: November 21

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