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9 Great Films that Have Multiple Roles by Same Actor

20 October 2012 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

4. Vertigo (1958) dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Vertigo 1

Actor:Kim Novak

Number of the roles she played in the film:Two

Name of the roles she played in the film:

1. Madeline Elster
2. Judy Barton

This is not a sensational performance by Kim Novak, at least not as great as most ones in this list. But the character setting is one of the big factors that make the film so great, that’s why I didn’t give this post the title “9 great performances” but “9 great films”. Ferguson(James Stewart)’s sexual fantasy was reflected on the two roles played by Kim Novak. It was his mad  obsession that drove him to force Judy to become like Madeline, which eventually led to the doomed romance tragedy.


5. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) dir. Stanley Kubrick


Actor:Peter Sellers

Number of the roles he played in the film:Three

Name of the roles he played in the film:

1. Group Captain Lionel Mandrake
2. President Merkin Muffley
3. Dr. Strangelove

Honestly, I didn’t find out the fact that these three characters were played by the same actor when I watched it for the first time. Because these are three wildly different roles,which could only be played by the talented actor Peter Sellers, who was one of the few actors Kubrick had worked twice with(Another film is Lolita, he played Clare Quilty in it). It is hard to give memorable performances in films, but Peter Sellers gave us, not one, but three in this film. Yes, the Dr. Strangelove role is the best among the three,but could you forget the other two?  Think about it.


6. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) dir.Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam

monty python and holy grail

Actor:John Cleese,Eric Idle,Terry Jones,Michael Palin

Number of the roles they played in the film:Twenty-three

Name of the roles they played in the film:

John Cleese plays six roles
1. Sir Lancelot the Brave
2. The Black Knight
3. Tim the Enchanter
4. Second Swallow-Savvy Guard
5. Peasant #3
6. Taunting French Guard

Eric Idle plays seven roles
1. Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir Launcelot
2. Corpse Collector
3. Roger the Shrubber
4. Peasant #1
5. the First Swamp Castle Guard
6. Concorde
7. Brother Maynar

Terry Jones plays three roles
1. Sir Bedevere
2. Dennis’s Mother
3. Prince Herbert

Michael Palin plays seven roles
1. Sir Galahad the Pure
2. First Swallow-Savvy Guard
3. Dennis
4. Peasant #2
5. The King of Swamp Castle
6. Brother Maynard’s Brother
7. The Leader of The Knights who say NI!

Another funny one in the list, in this hilarious King Arthur and Round Table Knights fable. Monty Python group members played both the good and the bad guys. Not only did they save money by reducing the scale of the cast, but also by making super cheap props. They used coconuts to create the voice of a running horse(and actually presented it!), and used a huge ugly wooden rabbit model as the imitation of Trojan horse, let alone those phony wardrobes and arms. They did this again in their religion satire Life of Brian. So if you want to use the minimum budget to shoot the best comedy, learn from them!



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  • I have film to add. Coffee and Cigarettes in the segment that features Cate Blanchett playing herself and her cousin.

    • Nice addition,Steven.Cate Blanchett is a name relevant to many top performance list,I shouldn’t have forgotten her.

  • There Will Be Blood, Paul Dano

    I know it isn’t a major double role, and some even have the theory that it is, in fact, the same character, but anytime there’s a chance to mention There Will Be Blood, I take it.

    • Thanks for your comments,Eric,there is a certain ambiguity in this topic,and Paul Dano in There Will Be Blood in one of them,anyway,who cares,it’s a great performance.

  • Nicholas Cage in Adaptation is my favorite dual role.

    • YEAH,both this film and Face/Off worth a nomination here,Cage used to be so good.

  • Naomi Watts in Mullholland Drive, mesmerizing. Almost can’t recognize her when she changes identities, and little makeup was used.

  • Jason

    They left out Multiplicity.

  • twman09

    They didn’t mention Graham Chapman while discussing Monty Python and the Holy Grail???

  • Andre Troesch

    Mars Attacks -Jack Nicholson

  • Dounster

    Lolita – Another great multiple roles for Peter Sellers (I just love the guy)

  • Ivana Cvetanovic

    Number 4 is (SPOILER) technically not true…