Seeing Double: These Film Stars Portrayed Identical Twin Characters
February 7, 2019
While we often marvel at talent crews for creating the illusion of one actor becoming two characters, we can’t forget that the actor has a great deal of responsibility, as well. Often, the actor is portraying twins who are nothing alike, such as Edward Norton in Leaves of Grass. They may even have two different accents to master, as Hayley Mills and Lindsey Lohan did in The Parent Trap. They sometimes need extensive training to work with a body double, which was the case with Armie Hammer in The Social Network. Read on to discover more actors who played their identical twin in movies.
Freddie Highmore In The Spiderwick Chronicles
The Good Doctor star Freddie Highmore emerged as a young talent in the early 2000s, starring in notable films such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland, and August Rush. In 2008, he further honed his craft by portraying his twin in The Spiderwick Chronicles.
Not only did the British actor need to master an American accent, but he also had to develop nuanced speech patterns to make the characters more believable. The twins also had fight scenes with nonexistent creatures, which Freddie had to perform on his own.
Tom Hardy In Legend
Tom Hardy has risen to prominence for his roles in predominantly action films, such as The Dark Knight Rises and Venom. The award-winning actor took his career to the next level by portraying real-life gangster twins in Legend.
The film takes place in Tom’s hometown London back in the 1960s. Tom Hardy portrays Reginald and Ronald Kay, twins who gained notoriety for their vulgar criminal lifestyle. Running nightclubs to mask their heavy involvement in the city’s underground, the twins rise to power while dodging an inquisitive police detective.
Bette Midler And Lily Tomlin In Big Business
Long before Lily Tomlin was the spunky senior in Grace and Frankie, she played opposite Hocus Pocus star Bette Midler in Big Business. Both Bette and Lily played their own twin in this tale of being switched at birth.
Each set of identical twins is born on the same night with the same names, leading to a nurse accidentally mixing them up. It isn’t until adulthood that the twins run into one another at Jupiter Hollow factory, which one set of twins’ family owns and the other’s family works for. Bette Midler plays Sadie Shelton and Sadie Ratliff, and Lily Tomlin plays Rose Shelton and Rose Ratliff.
Nicolas Cage In Adaptation
Nicolas Cage has been in a variety of critically-acclaimed films, such as Moonstruck and Leaving Las Vegas. He received praise once again for his 2002 film Adaptation, where he portrayed screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and his twin brother Donald.
As Charlie struggles to adapt a non-fiction book for the screen, Donald moves in with him. Donald’s joyous attitude and desire to write scripts further illuminates Charlie’s cynicism. Though the story is based on real-life Charlie Kaufman’s experience, twin brother Donald and other elements of the story are fictitious.
Armie Hammer In The Social Network
Armie Hammer guest-starred in multiple hit television shows before landing his first lead in Billy: The Early Years. Shortly after that, he landed his breakthrough role in The Social Network, where he portrayed real-life twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. In the film, the rowing brothers claim that it was they who originated the idea behind Facebook.
Armie worked alongside body double Josh Pence to portray the twins. Filmmakers either super-imposed Armie’s face onto Josh’s body or utilized split-screen photography to orchestrate the scenes. Both actors underwent almost a year of training to prepare for the twin roles.
Fans of old-timey psychological thrillers may recognize the next twin film.
Olivia De Havilland In The Dark Mirror
Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t the only one producing psychological thrillers in the 1940s. Robert Siodmak directed the 1946 film noir The Dark Mirror, starring Olivia De Havilland as twins Terry and Ruth Collins. When Terry’s boyfriend is mysteriously murdered, police investigate the woman and her twin.
The two have an uncanny resemblance that even stumps twin expert Dr. Elliot. It becomes apparent that one of the twins is psychotic, but determining which one is which becomes the challenge. The film was remade in the ’80s starring Jane Seymour as both twins.
Edward Norton In Leaves of Grass
First Look Studios
Edward Norton hit the ground running in the 1990s with films like Primal Fear, American History X, and Fight Club. A decade later, he tried on dark comedy by starring in the film Leaves of Grass, in which he played twin brothers Bill and Brady Kincaid.
Edward shows off his acting skill by portraying Ivy-league professor Bill alongside the rebellious Brady. Bill travels to Oklahoma to help Brady out of trouble, forcing him to reconnect with his origins.
Paul Dano In There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Blood was full of critically-acclaimed performances, including Paul Dano’s last-minute role as twins. Paul was originally set to play just one of the brothers, Paul Sunday, pictured here to the left. Kel O’Neill portrayed Paul’s preacher brother, Eli Sunday, but he dropped out of the film.
Filmmakers decided it would be best to have Paul Dano play both Paul and Eli Sunday and to make the characters twin brothers. The Little Miss Sunshine actor had only four days to prepare for the role of Eli Sunday, a true testament to his acting ability.
Hayley Mills In The Parent Trap
Walt Disney Pictures
Hayley Mills was one of the original Disney child stars, appearing in six of the studio’s films in the early ’60s– each one coming out every year. One of the most popular of the movies was The Parent Trap, which starred Hayley as twins Sharon and Susan.
When sisters meet at a summer camp and discover they are identical twins who were separated by their divorced parents, they concoct a plan to reunite their family. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards and earned Hayley high acclaim for her performance.
Up next, this next star got her big break making an adaption of this film.
Lindsay Lohan In The Parent Trap And I Know Who Killed Me
Walt Disney Pictures
Younger generations don’t often think of Hayley Mills as the star of The Parent Trap, recalling instead the 1998 adaptation starring Lindsay Lohan as twins Annie and Hallie. The film was well-received and launched the young actor’s career.
Nearly a decade later, Lindsay Lohan took on an entirely different role in the psychological thriller I Know Who Killed Me. When Aubrey (Lindsay) is captured by a serial killer, police find an identical woman who claims to be Aubrey’s non-existent twin, Dakota (also Lindsay). The plot thickens as the authorities aim to determine if Dakota is correct, or if she is a mentally-disturbed Aubrey.
Jackie Chan In Twin Dragons
Those who love Jackie Chan for his American action films may be interested in the Hong Kong action comedy Twin Dragons. When the dangerous Crazy Kung breaks into a hospital, newborn twins Ma Yau and Ma Wan are separated. One becomes a concert pianist in America, while the other remains in Hong Kong and becomes a street racer and martial artist.
When Ma Yau travels back to Hong Kong to conduct a major concert, the twins reunite. Their identical features lead to hilarious mixups that illuminate their contrasting characteristics. The twins ultimately must team up to defeat the gangsters who changed their lives.
Jean-Claude Van Damme In Double Impact And Maximun Risk
Belgian actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme broke into the film industry in the late 1980s after cultivating a friendship with Chuck Norris. He had a string of popular action films from 1988 to 1996, including Double Impact and Maximum Risk.
Double Impact is similar to Twin Dragons in that twins who are separated at birth reunite as adults in Hong Kong to take down wrongdoers. Maximum Risk, on the other hand, is about a cop who discovers that a victim he is investigating is his unknown twin.
Danny Kaye In Wonder Man
RKO Radio Pictures
Wonder Man was one of 17 movies that Danny Kaye starred in, also including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Hans Christian Anderson. In Wonder Man, Danny Kaye portrays two estranged twins who look exactly alike but behave entirely differently.
The more outgoing twin is killed upon witnessing a homicide. He returns as a ghost to his more introverted twin, encouraging him to bring justice to the killer. The ghost possesses his twin in one hilarious and famous scene of the musical.
Mike Myers In The Austin Powers Films
New Line Cinema
Though Mike Myers had already been a part of the comedy scene for years, he showed off his talent by writing and performing in the Austin Powers trilogy. It’s no secret that Mike Myers played multiple roles in the films, including the primary characters Dr. Evil and Austin Powers.
What isn’t revealed until the third film, Austin Powers in Goldmember, is that Dr. Evil and Austin Powers are twin brothers who were separated at birth during the death of their mother.
This next film also incorporated twins into the plot twist.
Christian Bale In The Prestige
American Psycho and Batman star Christian Bale further showcased his exemplary acting skill in the 2006 film The Prestige. Christian stars opposite Hugh Jackman in a story about two magicians who are battling to create the grandest illusion of all time.
It is revealed later in the film that Christian’s character, Alfred Borden, is actually a pair of twins pretending to have the same identity to accomplish an impossible trick. Subtle changes in the character’s disposition reveal which brother is pretending to be Alfred at any given time.
Bette Davis In A Stolen Life And Dead Ringer
Bette Davis was born at the turn of the 20th century and made her film debut back in 1931. She portrayed her twin for the first time in A Stolen Life, a 1946 film about identical sisters who are in love with the same man.
Almost two decades later, she again portrayed twins in the film Dead Ringer. One of her characters was a wealthy woman who murders her working-class twin sister and steals her identity.
Jeremy Irons In Dead Ringers
Twentieth Century Fox
Though Dead Ringers has nearly the same name as the 1964 film starring Bette Davis as a set of female twins, the two movies are not correlated. This movie is a 1988 psychological thriller loosely based on the lives of Stewart and Cyril Marcus.
Jeremy Irons stars as Elliot and Beverly Mantle, identical twins who share a gynecology practice. The twins use their identical appearances to secretly manipulate women, who think both brothers are the same person. When Beverly falls for one of the clients, the scheme gradually falls apart.
Up next, you probably heard of these twins when you were a child.
Matt Lucas In Alice In Wonderland
Walt Disney Pictures
English actor and comedian Matt Lucas gained international acclaim for his sketch comedy shows Little Britain and Come Fly With Me. In 2010, he took to the big screen as twin brothers Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Alice In Wonderland.
The film was heavily reliant on special effects, which meant that Matt Lucas had to perform as both characters in a green suit. Body double Ethan Cohn filled in as a twin while Lucas performed one character, and then the two switched so he could perform the other character.
Adam Sandler In Jack And Jill
Adam Sandler has starred in, written, and directed a number of films, but Jack and Jill was the first movie that he played his own twin in. Not only did Adam elect to play two distinct characters, but he also decided to make them twins of the opposite sex.
Jack is leery about his over-the-top sister, Jill, coming to visit for Thanksgiving. The tension between the siblings guilts Jack into inviting Jill to stay through Hanukkah. Things get more complicated when Al Pacino becomes Jill’s love interest.
Leonardo DiCaprio In The Man In The Iron Mask
Leonardo DiCaprio was on top of the world in the 1990s, during which he stared in romantic hits Romeo and Juliet and Titanic. He switched to a different tone for the 1998 drama The Man In The Iron Mask, wherein he portrayed King Louis XIV and his identical twin, Philippe.
Former musketeer Athos comes up with a plan to get revenge on King Louis XIV for causing his son’s death. He decides to free a prisoner of the king whose identity is hidden by an iron mask. The prisoner is rumored to be the king’s twin, who they aim to help overthrow Louis.