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Making Use of the Twin

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Watch out, Don Stanton. Your twin brother's coming up behind you.note 

If you want to pull out some kind of Doppelgänger in an episode of TV, the ideal way to achieve it would, of course, be to bring in a whole other actor who just happens to look exactly like the actor you're duplicating. Unfortunately, actors typically don't have identical twins hanging around.

But hey, sometimes they do! Twins have a certain advantage when it comes to getting in movies and TV. For one, child labor laws limit the amount of filming a kid can do in a single day. When you've used one kid to the daily quota, there's always the backup kid. This trope is practically the rule with babies since they obviously can't follow stage direction; one might be better at sitting still when they need him to, whereas the other might be a little better at interacting with others. Also, identical twins make excellent doubles, which works even if the twin isn't an actor.

The opposite of Playing Their Own Twin.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day:
    • In the climax, Sarah Connor appears on screen at the same time as the T-1000 is mimicking her. This shot was achieved using Linda Hamilton's twin sister Leslie Hamilton Gearren as the T-1000. Apparently the filmmakers were not aware until production commenced that Hamilton had a twin because the original plans were to use Back to the Future Part II-style camera tricks and film editing.
    • Leslie is also used in a Deleted Scene (reinserted in the extended edition) that appears to show the T-800 in a mirror while Sarah is working on the inside of his head; this was actually a clever set piece done entirely without camera effects through the use of an empty mirror frame, where Linda operates on a Schwarzenegger dummy with an open robotic skull on one side, while Leslie mirrors her movements on the other side with the real Schwarzenegger.
    • They also use Leslie in Sarah's dream sequence. Since Leslie wasn't as buff as Linda she was able to look convincing as a version of Sarah who got to raise her son in peace.
    • Real-life twins Don and Dan Stanton are used for the pictured above scene during the T-1000's infiltration of the asylum, with Don Stanton playing Lewis, the guard, while Dan plays the T-1000 assuming Lewis's appearance.
  • Don and Dan Stanton also played two scientist twins in Gremlins 2: The New Batch, and had a minor part (a cameo, basically) in Good Morning, Vietnam. Based on comments from their boss, the twins in Gremlins 2 are actually clones.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • Amusingly averted in X-Men. Mystique impersonates Bobby "Iceman" Drake (Shawn Ashmore), and in one scene, the real Iceman walks by a door shortly before the fake Iceman comes out of it. Director Bryan Singer states in the DVD Commentary that he went to the trouble of doing two takes spliced together because he didn't know he'd hired somebody with an identical twin who could have easily played the double.
    • They did make use of twins in X2: X-Men United though when Mystique is disguised as a janitor while doing some undercover work and walks past the real janitor.
  • Aaron Ashmore had the part of BOTH twins in a movie called My Brothers Keeper, while they used Shawn for stuntwork.
  • Penélope Cruz's younger sister Mónica (who looks exactly like her) was used as her double in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides to hide Penelope's pregnancy.
  • Seventeen Again (2000): The entire plot is that the grandmother is rascalized... and becomes the spitting image of her granddaughter, played by Tia Mowry. The rascalized grandma, naturally, is then played by Tamera Mowry, Tia's twin sister. (And just for kicks, the granddaughter's younger brother is played by...the twins' younger brother Tahj.)
  • Happens in the Agent Training Program scene in The Matrix. When Morpheus is taking Neo through the program, have you ever had the feeling that you just saw the same extras walk by the camera twice, with each pair wearing identical outfits? Those are all real pairs of twins. No CGI of any kind. The in-universe explanation is that Mouse got lazy while creating the program that he just created half the crowd and copy-pasted it rather than code unique characters. Now did you notice that, or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?
  • For the TV movie I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Cole and Dylan Sprouse alternated playing the main kid in order to get the film finished quicker without breaking child labor laws.
  • In the first Sex and the City movie Charlotte's oldest daughter Lily was played by Alexandra and Parker Fong, in the sequel Charlotte and Harry's biological daughter Rose was played by two sets of twins.
  • The concept of Moon over Parador is that actor Jack Noah (played by Richard Dreyfuss) secretly takes the place of look-alike Banana Republic dictator Alphonse Simms after the latter dies. In the two scenes where the Jack and Simms interact — once while Simms is alive, the other after Simms has died of a heart attack — Simms is played by Lorin Dreyfuss, Richard Dreyfuss's look-alike older brother.
  • Apocalypse Now: For some scenes of Benjamin Willard that were filmed after Martin Sheen was temporarily incapacitated in production by a heart attack, his brother Joe Estevez was used as a body double.
  • The Prestige does it In-Universe. Alfred Borden's entire schtick is that he is actually a pair of identical twin brothers. At any given time, one of the brothers is playing the role of Borden, and the other is playing the role of Fallon, Borden's assistant, using wigs and makeup.
  • Jojo Rabbit used Roman Griffin Davis’s (who played Jojo) older identical twin brothers to play Hitler Youth “clones” to streamline the CGI process.
  • In Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, Adam Szalinski was played by twins Daniel and Joshua Shalikar.
  • In the film adaptation of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg's toddler brother Manny was played by twins Connor and Owen Fielding. The companion book Wimpy Kid Movie Diary notes how this was a helpful approach for dealing with young actors, since when one twin can't take direction, the other twin is available.
  • While not a twin per se, Harrison Ford's non-actor son Ben Ford ended up bearing such a striking resemblance to his father as a young adult that Ridley Scott brought him in to record new visual effects shots for the Final Cut of Blade Runner released in 2007, 25 years after the original theatrical cut from 1982.
  • Ironically, the Polonia Brothers almost never used this. They did it very briefly for Feeders, but never took advantage of the fact they were identical twins during their career. Mark preferred being a director.
  • Last Night in Soho employs James and Oliver Phelps (aka Fred and George Weasley) in the scene where Eloise looks in the mirror and sees Sandie, with the twins being what is supposed to be a single doorman taking the wom(e)n's cloak.
  • Early in Unedited Footage of a Bear, Donna is savagely beaten by an evil version of herself. Donna and the evil Donna are played by twins Kerry and Jacqueline Donelli.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Sons of Anarchy, Abel Teller is portrayed by twins Ryder and Evan Londo.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "The Replacement", Xander is split into the strongest and weakest elements of his personality. Nicholas Brendon's twin Kelly Donovan guest starred — but was only included when they had to be in the same shot together, due to the fact that Kelly Donovan isn't (primarily) an actor.
    • Also, Nicholas Brendan was so sick during the filming of "Intervention" that Kelly played Xander for his fight scene. He went on to be Nicholas's stand-in throughout the rest of the series.
  • Charmed: Young Wyatt Halliwell was played by the twin actors Jason and Kristopher Simmons, throughout his run in the series, exempt only in the cases of his older, future self-appearing.
  • Dollhouse: in "The Attic", Enver Gjokaj's non-actor twin was used in a dream where Victor had to continually fight an enemy version of himself.
  • Notably averted on Friends. As an older child, Ross's son Ben was played by a young Cole Sprouse, though unlike with many child actors they never bothered using Cole's twin brother Dylan.
  • Sliders: For three episodes, Rembrandt's double was played by Cleavant Derricks' twin Clinton Derricks-Carroll. In the first of these, they actually looked so different that it was preposterous Rembrandt's friends could get them confused. (The show even included a cringe-worthy "how'd they do that?" scene with the doubles repeatedly circling each other in awe and touching each other's faces.) In the second, makeup made them sufficiently indistinguishable that they traded roles for the final scene, with Clinton playing the Rembrandt who slides away with the group. Few viewers noticed. In the low-budget Sci-Fi Channel seasons, Cleavant played all the Rembrandts.
  • Full House: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen spent eight years alternating in the role of Michelle, for the standard child labor law workaround. They were on screen simultaneously several times: a nightmare scene where Uncle Jesse sees two Michelles, an identical distant cousin visiting from Greece, a Good Angel, Bad Angel scenario, and a dream sequence in the final episode when Michelle had amnesia and the other Michelle represented the memories that she'd forgotten.
    • Throughout Seasons 1 to 7, the part of Michelle Tanner was credited to "Mary-Kate Ashley Olsen", leading many audience members to believe that there was in fact only one girl. In Season 8, the credits were finally changed to say "and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen as Michelle".
    • Mary-Kate and Ashley now say that when they watch old episodes from the earliest seasons, they can't actually tell which of them is actually in the scene.
    • Notablly, the twins aren't actually identical; they're just fraternal twins who happen to look very similar.
    • In Fuller House baby Tommy is played by twins Dashiell and Fox Messitt.
  • In Coronation Street, the role of Bethany Platt was played by twins Amy and Emily Walton until the end of her first stint in 2007. The two girls were briefly seen together in a Christmas pantomime the show's cast put on. In fact, given they usually have little to no dialogue or character before they are around 10 (with a few rare exceptions), the majority of children on the show are played by twins or triplets. Once they are expected to actually begin playing roles in storylines in later childhood, they often are recast with a single performer who can play the role into puberty and adulthood.
  • Big Brother: Reality TV example: In the Australian Big Brother house, a pair of twins posed as one housemate and would swap in and out at Big Bro's command. This happened in two seasons of the American version as well.
  • Twin siblings April and June in Search Party are portrayed by real-life twins Phoebe and Claire Tyers.
  • Animorphs: Jake (played by Shawn Ashmore) gets taken over by a Yeerk. The team needs a fake Jake to impersonate him to his family and teachers while they keep him captive for three days to recover from the infestation (a Yeerk starves to death if they don't return to the Yeerk Pool every three days). Ax morphs into Jake, and the double is played by the actor's twin Aaron. Far from the last time these two would be in the same show.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Episode 35 of Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger starred twin sisters Chiharu Tomita and Akiyo Tomita as Chisato Kameda, a kid ninja who employed Self-Duplication.
    • Quest 12 of Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger featured the now grown-up Tomita sisters as an office lady and the Copy Org assuming her form. Averted when the Copy Org copies Sae Taiga (Mio Takeuchi); as the actress does not have a twin sister, tokusatsu trickery was used.
    • Juken Sentai Gekiranger had an episode where the MOTD creates an Evil Twin of GekiBlue, who was played by Manpei Takagi's identical twin brother, Shinpei. These two have a habit of showing up in each other's shows.
      • Averted in the counterpart series Power Rangers Jungle Fury, where Blue Ranger Theo's twin brother Luen stops by for a visit, but both are played by Aljin Abella.
    • In episode 25 of Gosei Sentai Dairanger, when the Dairangers fought evil clones of themselves, Kazu's evil clone was played by Daisuke Tsuchiya, the real-life twin brother of Kazu's actor, Keisuke Tsuchiya. The roles were later inverted in Juukou B-Fighter, where Daisuke was the main hero (Blue Beet), while Keisuke played his evil twin (Black Beet).
  • When Jill Hennessy of Law & Order was playing Claire Kincaid on a crossover with Homicide: Life on the Street, she was mostly absent from the L&O set in New York. The producers brought her identical twin sister Jacqueline — an occasional actress — in to play Claire in the episode "Corpus Delicti" in wide shots, reaction shots and inserts, while Jill still filmed the dialogue scenes.
  • A 2008 Australian children's serial called Double Trouble featured a Parent Trap-style plot of twins separated at birth meeting by chance and pulling a Twin Switch. However, instead of Hayley Mills or Lindsay Lohan doubling up, the series featured real twins Christine and Cassandra Glenn as the two girls, meaning there are noticeable differences between them.
  • In 1977, a year after Deirdre Hall began playing Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of Our Lives, her twin sister Andrea was brought in to play Marlena's twin Samantha. Samantha was later killed off, but Andrea Hall again returned to the show to play Marlena's doppelganger Hattie from 2000-2001.
  • The Sid and Marty Krofft show Electra Woman and Dyna Girl did an episode where the evil Spider Lady turns herself into a look-alike of Electra-Woman. Once again, Deirdre Hall was Electra-Woman, while the Spider Lady doppelganger was played by Andrea Hall.
  • Mexican telenovela La Usurpadora used actress Gabriela Spanic's twin sister Daniela for a fight scene and a few other scenes that would have been tricky to film with one actress alone.
  • Scoundrels inverted, Patrick Flueger plays both Cal and Logan West. Coincidentally, they don't appear in many scenes together.
  • An episode of The Latest Buzz involves Amanda dating a guy who looks exactly like Wilder, naturally he was played by Munro Chamber's twin.
  • In the Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale of the Chameleons", the story involved a chameleon who turns into an evil doppelganger of a teenage girl and tries to kill her and steal her life. Who else would they get but Tia and Tamera Mowry?
  • The Mowry twins actually subvert this in Strong Medicine. Dr. Kayla Thornton, the local ex-Teen Genius Hospital Hottie (Tamera), does have a twin named Kesha (Tia), but she only appears once in the plot. And Kesha turns out to be The Ophelia, contrasting with Sugar-and-Ice Girl Kayla.
  • Done in House of Anubis where Jade Ramsey's twin, Nikita, was brought into the show for a few episodes to play Patricia's identical, yet completely opposite twin sister, Piper.
  • In Little House on the Prairie, the youngest Ingalls sister Carrie is shown in the credits as being played by Lindsay Sidney Greenbush. She was actually played by Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush, identical twins, for the usual child labor law reasons.
  • In Orange Is the New Black, Laverne Cox's twin brother M Lamar plays her character before her transition. Apparently, Cox was willing to do the pre-transition scenes herself, but the producers weren't comfortable with making her do that and the problem was solved when they found out about her brother.
  • Smallville, where Aaron Ashmore plays Jimmy Olsen, and Shawn Ashmore (who played a Meteor Freak-of-the-Week in the early seasons) makes the occasional double work possible.
  • An episode of Warehouse 13 was to involve Aaron and Shawn Ashmore, thhanks to an artifact splitting Aaron's character into two people, but Shawn was unavailable when it came time to shoot the episode, so Aaron had to handle both roles by himself.
  • An episode of Roswell had shapeshifter Nasedo disguise himself as an FBI agent played by Gunnar Clancey. When the two were briefly seen together, Gunnar's twin brother Bo was used.
  • Star Trek: in I, Mudd, Alyce Andrece played Alice #1 through #250, while Rhae Andrece played Alice 251 through 500. Similarly, Ted and Tom LeGarde played the Herman series, Colleen and Maureen Thornton played the Barbara Series, and Starr and Tamara Wilson played the Maisie Series.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Kid", Tommy was played by twin brothers Preston and Trevor Shores.
  • Used for a very clever visual effect in The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "A Passage for Trumpet". Joey Crown (Jack Klugman) thought he was dead and wandering the world as a ghost when he saw a full-length mirror next to a theater ticket booth. He saw the reflection of the girl in the ticket booth, but not his own reflection. The set designers built the set so it had two identical theater entrances, only one was reversed as a mirror image, with a pane of clear glass between them. The girl in the ticket booth was played by twins, one in the "real world" and one in the "reflection".
  • In Yes, Dear, Anthony and Michael Bain alternated as the role of Sammy Warner. In The Stinger for the episode, "Headshot", both Anthony and Michael are shown when all four adult characters confess to having "broken" Sammy, and Jimmy and Christine replace Sammy with an identical child and throw the "broken" Sammy out to the curb.
  • In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "In Another Life", the multiple versions of Mason Stark are played by the twin actors Matthew and Mitchell Laurance.
  • Dispatches From Elsewhere has an In-Universe example: Commander 14 and Octavio Coleman are fictional characters, played by identical twin actors. One of the twins mentions that each twin played both characters depending on the situation. In real life, both "twins" are played by the same actor.
  • In Power Rangers Zeo, the original Gold Ranger is Trey from Triforia, an alien prince who splits into three different beings. He is played by triplets Ted, Tom and Tim DiFilippo.
  • The X-Files Season 1 episode 11 has twin actresses Erika and Sabrina Krievins portray Cindy Reardon and Teena Simmons, two kidnapped girls who turn out to be "Eves", clones part of a retired government supersoldier-type experiment that one of their "sisters" was still running in secret at the time of their respective conceptions.
  • In House of the Dragon, Arryk and Erryk Cargyll are twin brothers who both serve on the Kingsguard, respectively played by real-life twins Luke and Elliott Tittensor. In a pivotal scene where Erryk defects to Rhaenyra's side of the civil war, he's actually played by Luke, the "wrong" twin, since Elliott was out sick that day.
  • The Last of Us (2023) used twins to play baby Ellie in the flashback scene in the last episode. One of the twins was not very cooperative, though.
  • Maude. There was an episode where Arthur's never-before-mentioned twin Arnold escaped from a sanatorium, impersonated him, even successfully slept with Vivian. Both brothers were played by Conrad Bain — until the last scene where they appear together, and Arnold is played by Bonar Bain.
    • More interestingly, Bonar dressed in drag in Different Strokes to play a female relative of Conrad's character Phillip.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • While not actually a twin, wrestler Kurt Angle's older brother Eric looks quite a lot like him and is also a wrestler. On several occasions, WWE pulled a "switched Angles" plotline to let Kurt cheat his way to victory while his opponent was cluelessly attacking Eric.
  • Also there's the Bella Twins, Brie and Nikki. Brie debuted first and, whenever she was in trouble, she rolled under the ring to let Nikki finish the match. Now they wrestle as a tag team. The twins revealed in an interview that in the early days when only Brie was wrestling regularly, sometimes Nikki would pretend to be her and go out and wrestle the match as her. They later revealed in another interview that one sister once had to break up with her boyfriend but couldn't go through with it, so the other sister did it in her place.
    • Possibly subverted during a match with Maryse: Brie was hurt, so Nikki pulled her sister out of the ring while the ref was busy chastising Maryse. Maryse saw the switch and nailed Nikki with a French Kiss.
    • Parodied in a match where the twins wrestled Maryse and Jillian Hall. Jillian rolled Maryse out of the ring and lay down in her place attempting to pull the switch. Of course Jillian and Maryse aren't twins and the ref wasn't fooled.
    • Became an issue in 2015; in the years since returning to the roster, Brie and Nikki no longer look identical; Nikki had breast implants, Brie got tattoos (though they aren't always noticeable due to their placement), the two have different work out regimens leading to different musculature, they have different hair colors, and they wear outfits made of different materials, making it very easy to tell the two apart, so fans called hijinks when the two managed to pull off "twin magic" against Paige and WWE expected everyone to buy it. WWE tried to address this a few weeks later in the rematch where they try twin magic again and it appears to backfire with Brie getting pinned, only to reveal the switch by showing that she's stuffed her bra, but given the other differences between them, it's still sketchy.
  • When the WWE acquired Dave Hebner's twin brother Earl from NWA, the creative got an idea where Ted DiBiase would hire Earl to impersonate Dave in order to screw Hulk Hogan out of the title. Thus, the infamous Evil Twin Referee match was born.
  • Another not actually a twin example, the wrestling team "The Killer Bees" often donned their masks at the end of a match so that they could swap without using a tag and not have the referee realise the wrong man was in the ring.
  • Irish wrestler Kasey Owens frequently would have her twin sister Leah hide under the ring and swap places with her to win matches. They don't do it regularly though as Kasey frequently alternates between brown and red hair, and Leah has a different set of tattoos.
  • Independent wrestling has the Renegade Twins, Charlette and Robyn. While not identical (they're fraternal twins), they look similar enough, especially with hairsyle, gear, and makeup all helping, that they can (and do) make use of Twin Magic during matches. This has declined as their respective characters have evolved, and flat-out failed to work at all in the revived Ring of Honor when both the referee and Willow Nightingale were able to easily recognize that a switch had been attempted.

  • Former professional baseball player and known goofball Jose Canseco once tried to have his twin brother Ozzie take his place at a celebrity boxing match. The ruse was exposed when someone noticed that while the Canseco twins might have identical genes they don't have identical tattoos.
  • Mario Andretti qualifies in second place for the 1969 Indy 500, then while practicing crashes and suffers facial burns (fortunately, much more common then than now). His injuries don't affect his plans to race, but they do affect the traditional front row photo, where the top three qualifiers pose in their cars. No problem, just get twin brother Aldo to pose in your place. Fellow front-row qualifiers A.J. Foyt and Bobby Unser don't even notice the stand-in. Oh yeah, he went on to win the race.
  • Association football managers Guillermo and Gustavo Barros Schelotto are twins, with Guillermo being the manager-in-charge and Gustavo being his assistant. One time, while they were managing at Club Atlético Lanús, Guillermo was sent off by a referee for misconduct. They take advantage of the fact they look identical and that they were wearing similar clothes by having Gustavo leave the pitch, while Guillermo was still giving orders to his team despite the ban he received.

  • Without spoiling the actual illusions, let's just say that stage magicians employ a lot of twins for their "lovely assistants." The whole plot twist that The Prestige is built around isn't all that far from reality.
  • Twin stage actors Shouta and Kenta Yamanaka did this for this first time in early 2019. The 2.5D stage world is an odd niche, since the plays require a pretty big time commitment from the actors, but they also tend to be done in series, and every series is different in regards to how they want to space their productions. This means that scheduling conflicts end up being the main cause of Long-Runner Cast Turnover. It happened that in January 2019, right after the twins finished Tsukipro's Lunatic Live concert series, both 100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams and High School Star Musical had their next productions starting rehearsals and performances, and Shouta had previously been in both, alone. Well, this solution presented itself, and Kenta replaced Shouta as Schnee in Yume100, while Shouta will be returning to his role of Nayuki in StarMyu. That said, they'll have a problem if Ensemble Stars! ever wants to feature 2Wink in a play scheduled close to an SQS episode...

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice has an In-Universe example. In the second case, Stage Magician Bonny De Famme is famous for her teleportation act. She pulls it off due to having a twin sister, Betty. Naturally you end up having to expose this in court when the "Bonny" testifying turns out to be Betty.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Perhaps the coolest thing of all, NASA is getting in on this in 2015, sending astronaut Scott Kelly to space for a year while they use his identical brother and former-astronaut Mark on Earth as a control for data.
  • In an interview on The Graham Norton Show, Rami Malek revealed that his twin brother Sami was meant to recite a Greek monologue for a college course, but was too nervous. The teacher didn't know his brother had a twin, so Rami did the monologue for him...only he did it too well, and the teacher wanted him to do it again as an example for another class. As he didn't want to risk getting caught, he politely declined, and got out of there as fast as he could.