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9 Great Films that Have Multiple Roles by Same Actor

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

7. Dead Ringers (1988) dir. David Cronenberg

DeadRingers10

Actor:Jeremy Irons

Number of the roles he played in the film:Two

Name of the roles he played in the film:

1.Beverly Mantle
2.Elliot Mantle

It’s tough to play two roles in the same film, it’s tougher to play twins, because the actor must play them as two persons who look so much like each other, but not too look alike. Jeremy Irons accepted the challenge in David Cronenberg’s psychological thriller Dead Ringers, and he nailed it. It is a superb dimensional performance, one of the best in his career. The twin character setting is not only a challenge to the actor who played them, but also to some other actors in the film and viewers. Actors needed to react to the same person in two different ways.It was an interesting film experience to me because I didn’t get used to see one actor plays twins until the half the film, and I always had trouble identify if the character I was looking at was Beverly or Elliot, it needed time to adapt to it.

 

8. The Double Life of Veronique (1991) dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski

The Double Life of Veronique

Actor:Irene Jacob

Number of the roles she played in the film:Two

Name of the roles she played in the film:

1.Weronika
2.Véronique

One of the most abstract film in this list. The gorgeous French actress Irene Jacob played two women who live in different country and don’t know each other, but can sense the existence of each other. There is a magical scene in which the French Véronique meets the Polish Weronika on a plaza, where Véronique spots Weronika sitting on a bus, and it is the only scene that both heroines meet each other. The beautiful imagery and subtle feelings this film brought us is unforgettable, can you imagine there is a person in this world, who not only looks like you but also shares many things in common with you? I can.

 

9. Face/Off (1997) dir. John Woo

face_off_cap_311

Actor:Nicholas Cage/John Travolta

Number of the roles they played in the film:Two

Name of the roles they played in the film:

Nicholas Cage plays two roles

1.Castor Troy
2.Sean Archer

John Travolta plays the same two roles

1.Sean Archer
2.Castor Troy

Who said commercial films can’t feature great performances? In Hongkong director John Woo’s 1997 action film Face/Off, two leading actors Nicholas Cage and John Travolta played the same two roles in reverse. Both are terrific performances, you can’t decide which is better. Nicholas Cage and John Travolta’s entrance in the film are typical Hollywood style, we can tell if they are good or bad from their looks. After the Face/Off operation, the film gets more interesting. Nicholas Cage plays an innocent victim brilliantly, John Travolta’s villain is also very impressive. Let’s call it a tie.

If I have missed any other great films that have multiple roles by same actors,please let me know in the comments below.

 

Read other lists on Taste of Cinema if you like this one.

 

 

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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…