Professional voice actors pride themselves on range. So, hiring a few good voice actors means you can take care of many, many characters with a small cast (especially if one or two actors are a Man of a Thousand Voices).
Oftentimes, this results in funny situations, like two characters played by the same person having intense conversations and heated arguments with each other. The talent is in making sure the audience doesn't know it. If jokes are made about this, it's Actor Allusion.
Sometimes this can happen in real life for technical or legal reasons where a person is required in one capacity to write themselves (in another capacity) a letter. For example, in most US states, for small corporations, a corporate officer can file an authorization to the board of directors to waive the corporation carrying workers' compensation insurance on that officer. Now, in the case of a corporation with a single owner (who therefore is both Chairman of the Board of Directors and President), the President of the corporation (who is the only officer) has to write a letter to himself, as Chairman of the Board, informing himself that he (as President) is waiving the Workers' Compensation coverage on himself (the letter being sent to the Workers' Compensation Board).
In voice acting, the process is fairly simple, with the actor just doing a different take (although some good voice actors can do it in real-time). The actor's vocal range is the only thing that might betray commonality.
This is sometimes actually invoked on purpose, as it can make you think, "Ohey, they're a clone? Why didn't I realize that before?".
In Live-Action this has historically been difficult, requiring split screen or otherwise splitting the image and requiring perfect synchronization between the different takes. Normally, the camera was stationary for this, but Back to the Future Part II pioneered a motion controlled camera that allows for complex panning shots that have the same actor in multiple roles. More modern works are able to do it a bit more easily due to advances in computer editing.
Not to be confused with Informing the Fourth Wall, Sounding It Out, Thinking Out Loud or Talking to Themself. Compare Holding Both Sides of the Conversation, which is an in-universe example of this trope, where a character is pretending to hold a conversation with another non-present (or non-existent) character, in order to maintain some kind of charade.
- Animated Films
- Anime and Manga
- Fan Works
- Live-Action Films
- Live-Action TV
- Puppet Shows
- Tabletop Games
- Video Games
- Visual Novels
- Web Animation
- Web Original
- Western Animation
- In Motu Patlu, Saurav Chakraborty provides the voice of both Motu and Patlu.
- A unique example of this happened in the WWF in 1997 when Hunter Hearst Helmsley was scheduled to face Dude Love in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Dude's music hit, but instead of coming out, he appeared on the Titantron screen and told Triple H he didn't feel like fighting the match and called in a replacement, who turned out to be Mankind, who proceeded to walk on screen and discuss the match with Dude Love. As if that wasn't enough, Mankind admitted that he had an even better substitute lined up, and brought on Mick Foley's original WCW and ECW character, Cactus Jack, leading to all three of the "Three Faces of Foley" sharing space on the Titantron at once before Jack came down to kick Triple H's ass.
- In the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction during "A Pirate's Life For Me", Thurl Ravenscroft voices a drunk pirate singing the song and his dog howling alongside him.