Why, often in film credits, are the actor’s and character’s name often written as, for example, “Ian McKellen – Gandalf (as Ian McKellen)”, but only for certain cast members?

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I’ve seen this a lot on IMDB, and this was just an example using more well-known names. For a direct example, I was looking up the cast for the 1999 film, DragonHeart: A New Beginning, and the lead actor, Chris Masterson, is listed as “Christopher Masterson – Geoff (as Christopher Masterson)”, and another character is ” Vladimir ‘Furdo’ Furdik – Sentry (as Vladimir Furdik)”, but only those 2 actors were listed that way. What does it mean that their character is “as the actor”, but it’s only true for them and not anyone else in the cast?

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I think you’re missing that there *are* differences. I looked up Dragonheart: A New Beginning, and it says Christopher Masterson – Geoff (as CHRIS Masterson). If there’s any difference between the name in IMDB and the name in the credit (Christoper vs. Chris) it will amend the entry like this.

The two names which are listed are the one the actor is commonly known as and the other is how the credit in the film is given. The movie may list him with one name, IMDb or other sources May refer to them by another name. This is especially common for actors who have changed their screen names during their career.

Laurence Fishburne was credited in his earlier films as “Larry Fishburne”.

If you’re watching Boyz n the Hood you’ll see the spelling as Larry in the credits as it was when it was released whereas he is now credited and known as Laurence.

Generally these are for actors who have been officially credited under different names.

E.g., Ian McKellen is usually credited as “Ian McKellen” but other times as “Sir Ian McKellen”.

Chris Masterson has been officially credited as “Chris Masterson”, “Christopher Masterson”, and “Christopher Kennedy Masterson” in the past.

another good example is the imdb page for Inception.