One Salary, Two Roles: 12 Actors Who Did Double Duty
These actors wore two hats (or more) on screen, delivering twice the performance, and arguably, twice the fun.
1. Nicolas Cage – Adaptation (2002)
Nicolas Cage, the king of cinematic eccentricity, played not one, but two characters in the mind-bending movie Adaptation. He portrayed both Charlie Kaufman, a troubled, self-doubting screenwriter (and the actual writer of the movie, so meta), and his fictional twin brother, Donald Kaufman, who is carefree and brimming with confidence. Watching Cage bounce between the neurotic Charlie and the blithe Donald is like witnessing a high-wire act. He embodies two very different personalities with such ease that you'd swear they used actual twins.
2. Eddie Murphy – Coming to America (1988)
Eddie Murphy has made a career out of playing multiple characters in the same movie, but nowhere is it more memorable than in the classic comedy Coming to America. Murphy is both Prince Akeem, a charming, naive prince from the fictional African nation of Zamunda, and Clarence, a crotchety, talkative barber in New York. His transition from the regal Akeem to the down-to-earth Clarence is a testimony to Murphy's range and comedic timing. Also, who can forget the iconic Soul Glo jingle?
3. Lindsay Lohan – The Parent Trap (1998)
The Parent Trap is a delightful demonstration of what happens when you mix an endearing storyline with a double dose of Lindsay Lohan. Playing both Hallie Parker and Annie James, twin sisters separated at birth who meet at a summer camp, Lohan delivered an adorably convincing performance. With a little help from movie magic, Lohan created two separate, distinct, and lovable characters, causing every viewer to double-check if they didn't actually hire twins.
4. Armie Hammer – The Social Network (2010)
In The Social Network, Armie Hammer played the Winklevoss twins (aka the Winklevii), Cameron and Tyler. They're identical twins who, in the film, sue Mark Zuckerberg, claiming he stole their idea to create Facebook. Hammer's portrayal of the Winklevii is seamless. He manages to imbue each twin with a slightly different personality, making it easy to forget it's the same actor playing both roles. The only thing that looks more identical than the twins are the zeroes in their bank account after the lawsuit.
5. Hayley Mills – The Parent Trap (1961)
Before Lindsay Lohan was seeing double in The Parent Trap, Hayley Mills was the original dual-role darling in the 1961 version of the film. Mills flawlessly played Susan and Sharon, twins separated at birth who are unexpectedly reunited at summer camp. The charm Mills brought to both characters, along with her ability to distinguish between the two personalities, showcased her talent at an early age. It's a double delight from the golden age of cinema.
6. Tom Hardy – Legend (2015)
Who better to play infamous London gangsters, the Kray twins, than Tom Hardy? In Legend, Hardy impressively takes on the roles of both Reggie and Ronnie Kray, navigating the delicate balance between their shared familial bond and vastly different personalities. One minute he's suave, level-headed Reggie, the next he's paranoid, volatile Ronnie. It's a double whammy of acting prowess that only Hardy could deliver.
7. Mike Myers – Austin Powers (1997)
Oh, behave! How could we forget Mike Myers in the Austin Powers series? Myers played not one, not two, but three hilarious characters: the eponymous groovy super spy Austin Powers, his nemesis Dr. Evil, and the repugnant Scotsman, Fat Bastard. With his over-the-top performances and perfect comedic timing, Myers created an iconic trio that were more memorable than the psychedelic plot. Now, that's what we call triple duty!
8. Christian Bale – The Prestige (2006)
While the double duty in The Prestige was a plot twist, it deserves a mention for Christian Bale's brilliant portrayal of the magician Alfred Borden... and his twin, Fallon. His ability to keep the audience guessing about the truth behind his character's tricks is a testament to his acting prowess. It's a captivating double illusion that even the greatest magicians would applaud.
9. Peter Sellers – Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Peter Sellers didn't just do double duty in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove; he tripled it. Playing Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, and the eponymous Dr. Strangelove, Sellers showcased his immense talent for comedy and characterization. His roles ranged from a bumbling British officer and a concerned U.S. President to an eccentric ex-Nazi scientist. The distinct personalities he brought to each character were crucial in underlining the film's satirical take on Cold War politics. It's a tour de force from Sellers that is as remarkable as it is hilarious.
10. Jeremy Irons – Dead Ringers (1988)
Jeremy Irons gave one of his most memorable performances in David Cronenberg's psychological thriller Dead Ringers. Irons played identical twin gynecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle. Elliot is the more confident, manipulative twin, while Beverly is more submissive and sensitive. Irons' masterful portrayal of these two complex, co-dependent characters is utterly compelling. His nuanced performance and subtle changes in demeanor allow the audience to distinguish between the twins, creating a deeply unsettling atmosphere that's central to the film's horror.
11. Lee Marvin – Cat Ballou (1965)
In the western comedy Cat Ballou, Lee Marvin pulled off double duty in an Oscar-winning performance. He played both the drunken gunslinger Kid Shelleen and the ruthless hitman Tim Strawn. As Kid, Marvin is a comic revelation, stumbling around in a drunken stupor yet somehow always prevailing. On the other hand, as Strawn, he's a menacing figure with a silver prosthetic nose, a stark contrast to his other character. The dynamic between these two opposing roles demonstrated Marvin's exceptional range and comedic skills.
12. Paul Dano – There Will Be Blood (2007)
Paul Dano showcased his acting prowess in There Will Be Blood, playing both Sunday brothers, Eli and Paul. Originally cast as Paul, Dano was suddenly asked to also play Eli when the actor initially cast left the production. As Eli, a charismatic preacher, Dano delivers a mesmerizing performance full of fire-and-brimstone intensity. As Paul, who has only one scene, Dano's portrayal is subtler yet equally effective. His distinct performances provide an engaging duality that adds a compelling dynamic to the film's narrative.