By Nick Maylor
Breaking the fourth wall, to directly address the audience is a time-honoured tradition of stage and screen. From Shakespearean soliloquies to Deadpool, it’s a subject worth its own discussion but that’s not what this is about.
Breaking the “fifth” wall refers to when someone (in character) makes references to the very actors playing them and/or previous work they’ve done.
Here’s ten classic examples of actors and movies getting seriously “meta”.
10. JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK (2001)
In this film from writer/director Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck plays a ridiculous version of himself but that’s not what this entry focuses on. Affleck also reprises his role from Chasing Amy (1997) and as Holden McNeil, Affleck’s character doesn’t pass up an opportunity to mock (and then praise) the real Ben Affleck.
9. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (2018)
Although I have my fair share of issues with this movie (particularly for Rami Malek’s Oscar win), I will give this one meta joke some serious credit. During a rant about the song that shares its name with the film’s title, Mike Myers’ character takes a jab at the actor’s precious film Wayne’s World (1992) wherein Myers’ character rocked out to the titular Queen jam in the exact fashion his character here insists no one will ever do.
8. READY PLAYER ONE (2018)
Cameos abound in this action flick from director Steven Spielberg but the most satisfying perhaps is the appearance of the very same Tyrannosaurus Rex from Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993) during the massive racing scene.
7. FLUSHED AWAY (2006)
In this delightful animated film, Hugh Jackman voices Roddy, a pampered house-rat. During his morning routine, Roddy checks out his wardrobe options and comes across a yellow costume reminiscent of the comic-book Wolverine (played by Jackman in the X-Men films).
6. TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (2011)
During the Michael Bay directed explosion-fest, Leonard Nimoy’s character Sentinal Prime gives a tip of the hat to Nimoy’s Star Trek character Mr. Spock when the alien robot is defending his treacherous motives.
5. OCEAN’S TWELVE (2004)
This one is completely out in the open and right on the nose. To help perform a heist Tess (Julia Roberts) pretends to be….
You guessed it, Julia Roberts.
4. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)
After Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has faked his own death, he stands with our heroes at the foot of his “grave”. The epitaph written on the tombstone quotes Ezekiel 25:17; not how the verse actually appears in the Bible, but the fictionalized version of it from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) as recited by Jackson’s character in that film.
3. THE FRESHMAN (1990)
Throughout the entire film, Marlon Brando paradoies and references his role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972). Brando’s character in The Freshman (1990) is even suggested to have been the “real-life” inspiration for the character in The Godfather.
2. DEADPOOL 2 (2018)
Wade Wilson/Deadpool uses time travel to kill Ryan Reynolds before the latter can make Green Lantern (2011). Simply hilarious.
1. JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT (2019)
Once again appearing on our list is Ben Affleck. In the sequel to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), Affleck once again portrays his character from Chasing Amy (1997). Here, he and Kevin Smith make a quick meta-joke about Jersey Girl (2004) before Affleck makes the ultimate meta-reference to his time portraying the Dark Knight.
Nick is an actor/writer/comedian/musician from Hamilton, ON Canada. Having been a film nut since the early days of his life, Nick has had an obsession with cinema and popular entertainment. Nick has written for thecinemaholic.com and is the current Foote & Friends “expert” on all things geek/superhero/comic-book related. Nick is the host/producer of the official Foote & Friends On Film podcast. Nick met John when studying acting at the Toronto Film School, for which John H. Foote was director and Film History professor. The two have been arguing ever since.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickMaylor