Seeing Double: 5 Great Dual Role Performances

Don’t worry, you’ve not had too much to drink. Actually, it is just a movie staple that has created some impressive performances from actors with enormous range. In order to play the double, you must be able to play different versions of a character without changing your appearance. Much harder than that, you often have to play opposite yourself, reacting to emotions and facial expressions that you have previously made or haven’t made yet.

But playing counterparts and doppelgangers has been a movie device for a long time, allowing characters to confront a version of themselves they never thought possible. Here are some of the best;

Dead Ringers (1988)

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Everyone loves Jeremy Irons, so why not have two of them? Here, he stars as twin gynaecologists who use their uncanny looks to trick women. When they fall in love with the same woman, their arrangement soon boils over. David Cronenberg’s 1988 film was a masterpiece in trick camera technology, placing two Irons into the scenes and settings. Not to mention that it is a near perfect exercise into the horror and creepy side of human desires. Plus Jeremy Irons effortlessly transforms from the misogynistic Elliot to the wall-flower Beverly as their relationship becomes chaotic.

Multiplicity (1986)

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I had to throw one guilty pleasure movie in here. Partly because this used to be a childhood favourite of mine, mainly because Michael Keaton is a legend and there is a good four of him here. Doug Kinney is a man who’s struggling to balance things. His job takes over his life, he barely has time for his family and there is no chance for relaxing. When he comes across a scientist, who is sympathetic to his needs, he is cloned into several versions of himself. Keaton is a charmer, four times over, and while this may have a poor critical and box office response, director Harold Ramis actually made it funny with a lot of heart.

Moon (2009)

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Sam Rockwell deserves much more recognition for his talents than he receives. The charismatic actor has always delighted audiences and critics, particularly in his turn in recent comedy The Way Way Back.  Moon, however, sees David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones, direct a phenomenal science fiction thriller. Sam Rockwell is Sam Bell, a man on a three year work contract on Lunar Industries moon based oil rig. However, during an accident, he finds a clone of himself. While they both try to figure out who the real Sam Bell is, they discover something more sinister is happening. Thrilling and with an unforgettable score by Clint Mansell, Jones has created a superb movie.

Sisters (1979)

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While Margot Kidder may be more famed for Lois Lane in the first Superman film series, she excels in Brian De Palma’s cult classic Sisters. Here she plays separated Siamese twins Dominque and Danielle. When violence occurs and they are followed by an intrusive journalist, only horror, pain and panic can pursue. Kidder is genius here, playing sadism and sympathy in a terrifying way. Though some may argue that De Palma copied and pasted the movie straight from the “How To” guide by Hitchcock, much like Phantom of the Paradise, it is still a trashy yet worthy horror flick.


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Talking about Hitchcock, let’s look at the definitive double movie with his highly praied and acclaimed movie Vertigo. Despite being a flop on release, so much so that Hitchcock damned leading actor James Stewart, it has later been recognised by film theorists everywhere for its importance. When James “Scottie” Ferguson, an ex-cop with vertigo, is hired to investigate an old friend’s oddly behaving wife, he accidentally falls in love with her. She dies and his world is pulled apart. But when he sees a woman who looks like her, his turmoil deepens and he sets out to make this woman the spitting image of his love. Psychological power plays and intense imagery makesVertigo one of Hitchcock’s best works.

What Do You Think? 

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