Jack Noah (Richard Dreyfuss) is all actor: Self-possessed, obsessive, vulnerable, and an addict for praise, his soul burns with "the craft." Having just finished a grade-Z straight-to-cable crime thriller in the fictional South American country of Parador, he gets the ultimate acting challenge (though it's more like an offer he can't refuse) from Roberto Strausman (Raul Julia), the Paradorian dictator's chief advisor. The challenge: impersonate the country's dictator, whose just died. Strausman knows just how to manipulate Noah: He takes him to a meat locker, shows him the director's body (actually Dreyfuss' brother, Lorin), threatens to kill him, and he brings clips of Noah's best reviews. Thus enticed, and bearing a striking resemblance to the man, Noah accepts the job. Under the exacting direction of Strausman, he follows the script precisely. Noah immediately enjoys the job's perks, not least of which is the dictator's scorching mistress, Madonna (Sonia Braga), but of course cannot conceal his real identity to her. A close call with Parador's revolutionaries and Madonna's brimming social conscience push Noah to take command of the role. He starts pushing a kinder, gentler social agenda, and incurs Strausman's wrath. It begins to look like Noah will play the dictator's last act, but a chance meeting with a stunt man friend (Michael Greene) inspires a caper that will change all of the characters' fates.