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11 Actors Who Have Played Their Own Twin

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Along with being a way to cheekily skirt the rules of decency set forth by the Motion Picture Production Code, a.k.a. The Hays Code (see Rock Hudson and Doris Day “sharing” a bath in 1959’s Pillow Talk), the invention of split screen filmmaking brought about another fun bit of movie magic: allowing an actor to appear onscreen with him/herself. Which led to endless character possibilities—everything from Lindsay Lohan playing twins in The Parent Trap to Adam Sandler in drag in Jack and Jill. Whether they were playing evil doppelgängers or cutesy cohorts, here are 11 other actors who have played their own twin. 

1. LEONARDO DICAPRIO IN THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (1998)

If Titanic made Leonardo DiCaprio the world’s most famous actor, this dreadful retelling of the Alexandre Dumas classic proved that even the brightest stars aren’t immune to falling. But don’t blame the film’s failure on Leo, who tears into both of his characters—the evil King Louis XIV of France and his sweet-natured brother Philippe, whom the King has imprisoned—with equal fervor. 

2. JEREMY IRONS IN DEAD RINGERS (1988)

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If DiCaprio needed any advice on how to play doubles, he could have asked his Iron Mask co-star Jeremy Irons, who did the twin thing a full decade earlier. In this kinda creepy psychosexual thriller (it is David Cronenberg after all), Irons plays suave gynecologist Elliot Mantle who has a habit of seducing women, only to pass them on to his not-quite-as-confident brother Beverly, who also happens to be a gynecologist. The plan works well for the demented duo until Beverly falls in love with one of the women and, in true twin fashion, so does Elliot. 

3. DANNY KAYE IN WONDER MAN (1945)

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In one of the earliest examples of the “twin technique,” Danny Kaye plays a pair of estranged twins whose personalities couldn’t be more disparate. In the Samuel Goldwyn-produced picture, Kaye plays Buster “Buzzy Bellew” Dingle, a mouthy Brooklyn nightclub performer who is killed by a local mob boss after witnessing a murder. In order to ensure that justice is served, Buster—now a ghost—comes back to bother his nerdy brother, Edwin, who assumes Buster’s identity in order to put the killer behind bars.

4. NICOLAS CAGE IN ADAPTATION (2002)

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Typically, one Nicolas Cage is all the Nicolas Cage you need in any given movie. But in Spike Jonze’s meta tale of (real) screenwriter Charlie Kaufman attempting to adapt (real) writer Susan Orlean’s (real) novel The Orchid Thief into a (real) script with his (fake) twin brother Donald, two Nics is completely appropriate. And welcome. So much so that Cage scored a well-deserved Oscar nomination for the film (as did the Kaufman “brothers,” only one of whom existed). Got that? 

5. MICHAEL KEATON IN MULTIPLICITY (1996)

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“Clone” would be a better word than “twin” in the case of Multiplicity, the late Harold Ramis’ largely underrated comedy about Doug Kinney (Keaton), a busy contractor who decides to clone himself so that he can better attend to his duties as a husband, father, and business owner. But then two more clones appear, each with its own personality—Two is a macho stud, Three is the sweet poet-type, Four (who thinks Doug’s name is Steve) is not the sharpest tool in the shed—wreaking mayhem instead of order. The film may not have raked it in at the box office, but Keaton playing quadruple duty to perfectly nuanced comedic perfection is worth the price of admission (or a lazy afternoon viewing on HBO).

6. BRUCE CAMPBELL IN ARMY OF DARKNESS (1992)

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Though “Bad Ash” had reared his head before Army of Darkness, it’s in The Evil Dead series’ third film that our hero’s bad side assumes his very own identity. And he comes to life in true comedic fashion. Though they’re identical at first, throughout the course of the film distinguishing between our hero and his evil doppelgänger becomes a much easier task, thanks to a dismembered body part or two.

7. BETTE DAVIS IN A STOLEN LIFE (1946)

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Bette Davis got to show off her various talents in this story of a vengeful twin, Patricia Bosworth, who uses the drowning of her sweet and sensitive sister, Kate, to get close to the love of her life (Kate’s husband, played by Glenn Ford). Davis must have had fun playing dual roles, because she did it again in 1964’s Dead Ringer (no relation to Cronenberg’s film). 

8. EDDIE MURPHY IN BOWFINGER (1999)

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Eddie Murphy is no stranger to playing multiple characters in one film, or even one scene (see: The Nutty Professor). But in this Frank Oz comedy—written by and starring Steve Martin—he plays just two parts: A-list action star Kit Ramsey and Kit’s nerdy brother Jiff, the P.A. and unwitting leading man of a terrible sci-fi film, Chubby Rain, in which Martin plans to pass off Kit as his well-known brother. 

9. JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME IN DOUBLE IMPACT (1991)

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Muscles from Brussels times two! Back at the height of his career, two Jean-Claude Van Dammes were actually a good thing, as evidenced by this uninspired actioner in which Van Damme plays twin brothers separated as babies following the brutal murder of their parents by some notorious Hong Kong criminal. Twenty-five years later, the brothers—who have totally different personalities but are equally good at kicking ass—come together in Hong Kong to get revenge on the people who tore them apart. But no split screen twin action movie would be complete without some sort of tête-à-tête or, in this case, foot-à-tête. The movie may be terrible, but it was successful enough with audiences for Jackie Chan to make essentially the same movie a year later with Twin Dragons.

10. OLIVIA DE HAVILAND IN DARK MIRROR (1946)

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Director Robert Siodmak was another early adopter of the evil twin twist in this noir tale of Terry and Ruth Collins, sisters who are both being investigated for murder. The police know that one of the ladies did it, they just can’t tell them apart! So in comes a psychiatrist to administer a series of tests and get to the bottom of the mystery, discovering which sister did it through his examinations—and falling in love with the other one in the process.

11. EDWARD NORTON IN LEAVES OF GRASS (2009)

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Edward Norton is totally believable as both Bill Kincaid, a professor at Brown University who can wax poetic on Plato's Socratic dialogues with the best of ‘em, and Brady Kincaid, a small-time pot dealer who is under pressure to pay back a local drug lord (played by Richard Dreyfuss) in the brothers’ Oklahoma hometown. In a plan to lure Bill back to Tulsa to help, Brady fakes his own death and a slew of instances of mistaken identity follow.

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The Strange Hidden Link Between Silent Hill and Kindergarten Cop
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Universal Pictures

by Ryan Lambie

At first glance, Kindergarten Cop and Silent Hill don't seem to have much in common—aside from both being products of the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade came Kindergarten Cop, the hit comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and starring larger-than-life action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the decade’s end came Silent Hill, Konami’s best-selling survival horror game that sent shivers down PlayStation owners’ spines.

As pop culture artifacts go, they’re as different as oil and water. Yet eagle-eyed players may have noticed a strange hidden link between the video game and the goofy family comedy.

In Silent Hill, you control Harry Mason, a father hunting for his daughter Cheryl in the eerily deserted town of the title. Needless to say, the things Mason uncovers are strange and very, very gruesome. Early on in the game, Harry stumbles on a school—Midwich Elementary School, to be precise—which might spark a hint of déjà vu as soon as you approach its stone steps. The building’s double doors and distinctive archway appear to have been taken directly from Kindergarten Cop’s Astoria Elementary School.

Could it be a coincidence?

Well, further clues can be found as you venture inside. As well as encountering creepy gray children and other horrors, you’ll notice that its walls are decorated with numerous posters. Some of those posters—including a particularly distinctive one with a dog on it—also decorated the halls of the school in Kindergarten Cop.

Do a bit more hunting, and you’ll eventually find a medicine cabinet clearly modeled on one glimpsed in the movie. Most creepily of all, you’ll even encounter a yellow school bus that looks remarkably similar to the one in the film (though this one has clearly seen better days).

Silent Hill's references to the movie are subtle—certainly subtle enough for them to pass the majority of players by—but far too numerous to be a coincidence. When word of the link between game and film began to emerge in 2012, some even joked that Konami’s Silent Hill was a sequel to Kindergarten Cop. So what’s really going on?

When Silent Hill was in early development back in 1996, director Keiichiro Toyama set out to make a game that was infused with influences from some of his favorite American films and TV shows. “What I am a fan of is occult stuff and UFO stories and so on; that and I had watched a lot of David Lynch films," he told Polygon in 2013. "So it was really a matter of me taking what was on my shelves and taking the more horror-oriented aspects of what I found.”

A scene from 'Silent Hill'
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In an interview with IGN much further back, in 2001, a member of Silent Hill’s staff also stated, “We draw our influences from all over—fiction, movies, manga, new and old.”

So while Kindergarten Cop is perhaps the most outlandish movie reference in Silent Hill, it’s by no means the only one. Cafe5to2, another prominent location in the game, is taken straight from Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

Elsewhere, you might spot a newspaper headline which references The Silence Of The Lambs (“Bill Skins Fifth”). Look carefully, and you'll also find nods to such films as The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and 12 Monkeys.

Similarly, the town’s streets are all named after respected sci-fi and horror novelists, with Robert Bloch, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, and Richard Matheson among the most obvious. Oh, and Midwich, the name of the school? That’s taken from the classic 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, twice adapted for the screen as The Village Of The Damned in 1960 and 1995.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Kindergarten Cop'
Universal Pictures

The reference to Kindergarten Cop could, therefore, have been a sly joke on the part of Silent Hill’s creators—because what could be stranger than modeling something in a horror game on a family-friendly comedy? But there could be an even more innocent explanation: that Kindergarten Cop spends so long inside an ordinary American school simply gave Toyama and his team plenty of material to reference when building their game.

Whatever the reasons, the Kindergarten Cop reference ranks highly among the most strange and unexpected film connections in the history of the video game medium. Incidentally, the original movie's exteriors used a real school, John Jacob Astor Elementary in Astoria, Oregon. According to a 1991 article in People Magazine, the school's 400 fourth grade students were paid $35 per day to appear in Kindergarten Cop as extras.

It’s worth pointing out that the school is far less scary a place than the video game location it unwittingly inspired, and to the best of our knowledge, doesn't have an undercover cop named John Kimble serving as a teacher there, either.

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The 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix Right Now
Disney/Marvel
Disney/Marvel

If you’re in the mood for some speculative fiction and your pile of Arthur C. Clarke books has been exhausted, you could do worse than to tune in to Netflix. The streaming service is constantly acquiring new films in the sci-fi and fantasy genres that should satisfy most fans of alternative futures. Here are five of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix right now.

1. CUBE (1997)

This low-budget independent film may have helped inspire the current "escape room" attraction fad. Six strangers wake up in a strange room that leads only to other rooms—all of them equipped with increasingly sadistic ways of murdering occupants.

2. METROPOLIS (1927)

Inspiring everything from Star Wars to Lady Gaga, Fritz Lang’s silent epic about a revolt among the oppressed people who help power an upper-class city remains just as visually impressive today as it did nearly 100 years ago.

3. TROLL HUNTER (2010)

A Norwegian fairy tale with bite, Troll Hunter follows college-aged filmmakers who convince a bear trapper to take them along on his exploits. But the trapper fails to disclose one crucial detail: He hunts towering, aggressive trolls.

4. NEXT (2007)

Nic Cage stars a a magician who can see a few minutes into the future. He's looking to profit with the skill: the FBI and others are looking to exploit it.

5. THE HOST (2006)

A slow-burn monster movie from South Korea, The Host has plenty of tense scenes coupled with a message about environmental action: The river-dwelling beast who stalks a waterfront town is the product of chemical dumping.  

6. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOLUME 2 (2017)

Marvel's tale of a misfit band of space jockeys was a surprise hit in 2014. The sequel offers more Groot, more Rocket Raccoon, and the addition of Kurt Russell as a human manifestation of an entire sentient planet.

7. STARDUST (2007)

Director Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel features Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro as supporting players in the tale of a man (a pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox) in search of a fallen star to gift to his love.

8. KING KONG (2005)

Director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) set his considerable sights on a remake of the 1933 classic, with the title gorilla pestered and exploited by opportunistic humans.

9. DONNIE DARKO (2001)

What will a teenage mope do when a giant rabbit tells him the world is about to end? The answer comes in this critical and cult hit, which drew attention for its moody cinematography and an arresting performance by a then-unknown Jake Gyllenhaal.  

10. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)

Soon we'll have a movie for every single major or minor incident ever depicted in the Star Wars universe. For now, we'll have to settle for this one-off that explains how the Rebel Alliance got their hands on the plans for the Death Star.

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