Seeing double: 10 actors who played identical twins

USA Today
Seeing double: 10 actors who played identical twins
Hoai-Tran Bui, USATODAY
October 2, 2015


Sometimes there aren’t enough twin actors in the world to star in a movie together. Or sometimes, the temptation of playing two different people who look alike is just too strong (or Oscar-baity).

Tom Hardy is tackling the long-lauded tradition of playing twins on film with his newest movie Legend — a practice that has become even more common in movies and television thanks to the powers of split-screen and CGI. Heck, Tatiana Maslany plays like seven versions of herself in Orphan Black. And don’t even talk to us about the numerous soap opera storylines where an evil twin comes to town to take over the main character’s life.

Here are 10 actors who have tackled the dual roles of identical twins, and held their own against, well, themselves.

Lindsey Lohan, The Parent Trap

Lindsey’s best movie after ‘Mean Girls’ tbh.
Lindsey’s best movie after ‘Mean Girls’ tbh. (Photo: LOREY SEBASTIAN, XXX WALT DISNEY PICTURES)
Lindsey Lohan’s most iconic role to date (we loved Mean Girls, but come on, that movie belonged to Rachel McAdams) was one of her first ones — as the couldn’t-be-more-different twins who met at camp after they were separated by their divorced parents. The Parent Trap was a 1998 remake of the 1961 film (also with star Hayley Mills pulling double duty), about Lohan’s twins getting into shenanigans as they clash at camp, then deciding to impersonate each other to bring their parents back together.

Armie Hammer, The Social Network

The Social Network is littered with great lines, but one of the best ones is uttered by one of Armie Hammer’s Winklevoss twins: “We can do that ourselves. I’m 6’5″, 220, and there’s two of me.” We honestly couldn’t really tell the difference between them other than their hair parting, but that was probably the point — why else would Mark Zuckerberg keep referring to them as the Winklevii?

Nicolas Cage, Adaptation

This movie was peak Nicolas Cage.
This movie was peak Nicolas Cage. (Photo: NONE, XXX COLUMBIA PICTURES)
In a not-so-true movie about Charlie Kaufman’s writer’s block, Nicolas Cage plays Kaufman and his fictional twin brother. This is one of those few times that an actor actually got nominated for an Oscar for portraying two twins, and Cage is pretty brilliant in it. It’s like his wacky, over-the-top acting actually got divided into two people for Adaptation, and he becomes incredibly fascinating to watch. It also helps that it’s a Kaufman-penned, Spike Jonze-directed movie also starring Meryl Streep.

Bette Davis, A Stolen Life and Dead Ringer

You know you’re a great actress when you get hired to play twins in two separate movies. Iconic Classic Hollywood actress Bette Davis is brilliant as a pair of twins in both A Stolen Life and Dead Ringer — the first about two twins who get entangled in each other’s love affairs and the other about an estranged twin who kills her sister and takes over her life.

Freddie Highmore, The Spiderwick Chronicles

Remember this movie? We don’t really either…
Remember this movie? We don’t really either… (Photo: Andrew Cooper, Paramount Pictures)
Before he played a severely creepy Norman Bates in Bates Motel, Freddie Highmore was a precocious British child actor. In the height of his pale, doe-eyed popularity, he played identical twins Jared and Simon in the adaptation of the Spiderwick Chronicles fantasy series. Not only did he have to act against himself, he had to react to CGI fantasy creatures who were trying to attack him and his sister (played by Sarah Bolger). It’s a fun, silly fantasy romp that Highmore is probably the best part of.

Christian Bale, The Prestige (spoilers!)

The twist at the end of The Prestige (because it’s a Christopher Nolan movie, and those are probably required by law to have a twist) was that Christian Bale’s ambitious magician Alfred Borden was actually two people. The reason that he could perform his physics-defying tricks (and drive Hugh Jackman’s Robert Angier to madness) was because twins Alfred and Freddy masqueraded as one person their entire lives. And the biggest magic trick of all was that this was actually a great twist ending to a weird sci-fi-saturated magic movie.

Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin, Big Business

What’s better than one actress playing twins? Two! Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin are hilarious as two sets of twins who were switched at birth (yeah, this is a common plot), with one set going to a rich family and the other going to a poor family. It’s a classic 1980s slapstick comedy — an era which, for some reason, was obsessed with doppelgangers — and Midler and Tomlin are perfect.

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Man in the Iron Mask

Two Leo’s? Swoon.
Poor Leo. This was early in his career and he was not yet at full Oscar-bait power, but man, he was awful in this movie. Probably the only actor to go for the dual roles and walk away with a Razzies Award (the parody awards ceremony that rewards the worst in film), Leonardo DiCaprio played King Louis XIV and Philippe in the adaptation of one of Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers stories, but without any of the fun of a Three Musketeers movie.

Jeremy Irons, Dead Ringers

A psychological thriller that gave Jeremy Irons his first critically acclaimed performance, Irons plays two twin gynecologists who operate a successful fertility clinic and women-seducing operation. Ignoring the fact that the plot is highly unethical, Irons was lauded for his performance as the more charismatic and confident twin Elliot, and the shyer twin Beverly, which he claimed to play by using the “Alexander technique” to give them “different energy points.”

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