Films within films, characters?

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Hi.

( Warning: This issue is going to be complicated. And a long post. )

Just wanted to clarify something. There are some movies where the story and the characters include ”films within films”. The examples probably vary a lot from some complicated art films (for lack of a better word) to films like ”Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, but I came across with one film where the characters are not listed in the end credits (only the actors are, without any character names).

Anyway, in the film there are a group of filmmakers and actors (”present time”) which then make a movie. Then there are scenes from that ”movie inside a movie”. And then there are some flackbacks from the childhood of the main characters. Many actors have at least two parts: the ”present day actor” and a character (or several) in a ”movie inside a movie”. It’s all rather complicated, to be honest, and to make it even more complicated, not many of the characters have any real names (only 2-3, rest are pretty much ”nameless” or something like a ”doctor” or a ”soldier”).

So using an example, what would be the best way to credit the characters:
The real-life actor named John Doe plays ”the actor” in the film. This means that his present day character is basically ”actor”. Now John Doe also plays the character ”Jim” in the ”movie inside a movie”. Now also he plays the character of a ”soldier” in the flashback scenes. This would basically make three different roles.

1) Doe, John - - - Actor
2) Doe, John - - - Actor/Jim/Soldier
3) Doe, John - - - Actor/Soldier

Option nr. 1 means that only the ”present day” character is listed (just like only the character of Rick Dalton is listed for DiCaprio in ”Hollywood” and not the ”movie inside a movie” characters - even when there are full scenes from the movie included).

Option nr. 2 means that every different character is listed.

Option nr. 3 means that the ”present day” character and the character from the flashbacks is listed.

NOTE: I assume that the main reason why ”only” Rick Dalton is listed is because only that character is listed in the actual end credits. With my example, the characters are not listed in the end credits and rarely even mentioned during the film.

Thanks again.
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Eboy

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Posted 2 months ago

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Croc_Killer

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This is how I'd do it:

You would credit the actor as their character in the main film, or characters if they play multiple roles (such as Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. Credited with his main character's name and the alias he assumes, Dorothy Michaels, but not with the role he plays in the TV show within the film).

If a character is an actor (within the main movie) you would not credit them as a character in a film within a film.
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Eboy

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You definitely have a good point.

In my case, the parts with the ”movie within the main movie” are quite substantial (probably 40% or so of the whole movie), so I started to wonder that perhaps I should (also) credit them.
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Croc_Killer

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I would follow bderoes advice in keeping it simple.

If the real life actor is playing multiple roles, credit the roles individually, but if the character they are playing is the one in the secondary role don't credit the movie in movie part.

Think of Matt leBlanc in Friends. Credited as Joey Tribiani, not as the characters he plays as a part of Joey's story.
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bderoes, Champion

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https://help.imdb.com/article/contribution/filmography-credits/characters/GKLQVXKH7U8DATWX?ref_=helpsrall#
    Keep it simple

    Please omit redundant information/irrelevant details: Ralph Fiennes' character in Red Dragon is called Francis Dolarhyde, and that's how he's listed in the credits. It's simply overkill to have him listed as "Francis Dolarhyde/The Tooth Fairy/The Red Dragon" even though those are factually correct descriptions.


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Eboy

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I do get the point, but truth to be told, Red Dragon example refers to one person. The character just has many names, but Fiennes plays just one part:
- real name: ”Francis Dolarhyde”
- nickname "The Tooth Fairy”
- alter ego ”The Red Dragon”
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bderoes, Champion

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Look, I was quoting the IMDb help page (link provided above).
I suggest you read through that page.

I definitely approve of the "simplify" philosophy.
I'm glad to see that Cary Grant's character in Charade (1963) has only one name listed, although he has many names during the film.
Similarly, Jeffrey Donovan is only listed with his primary character name, not the aliases he assumes during episodes of Burn Notice (2007) (TV Series).

I would use only the name of the character being played, not the names of the characters that character is playing.
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Dan Dassow, Champion

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When a character has one or more aliases, these aliases could be mentioned as part of the trivia for the film and television series.
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gromit82, Champion

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Eboy: I agree with Croc and Bderoes -- just give the primary character name.

If you look at the IMDb page for Singin' in the Rain (1952) at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045152/, you will see that only the primary characters played by Gene Kelly and others in the main story are given as their character names -- not any characters they played in the fictional films within the plot. 
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Grayson, Employee

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Our champions are right here - lets keep it simple and credit them with the character they play, which in this case is the actor. Any characters the actor themselves plays are trivia, not cast credits.
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Nikolay Yeriomin (Mykola Yeromin), Champion

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Follow-up question: are there specified exceptions?

I can think of three possible types, some of which there are known examples of:
a) Actor portrays two different characters in main plotline and film-within-a-film, effectively making them two different roles not known to correlate in-universe; 
b) Both characters are credited: the actor character and the character character;
c) Character, whom actor portrays in-universe becomes a separate character plot-wise, interacting with the actor character. 
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Eboy

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At least with #b, both should be credited if they’re listed in the actual credits. ( In my example, none of the actual characters are listed, there’s only the list of actors. )

But I kinda have to agree with (some of the) other replies here. It’s probably best not to overthink things and make the character list overly complicated. Some films (like my example for sure) can be very complicated in plot /character wise.