There was a time when evil twins were the exclusive preserve of cheesy US soap operas. But these days, they’re all over the place. And thanks to Orphan Black and Misfits, there are even more of them than ever.
Okay, not exactly evil twins. But actors playing more than one character at a time. It’s pretty common practice, especially in SF shows, to give an actor the chance to stretch their muscles and play a different version of their character (thanks to possession/magic spells/alternate realities etc). But it’s less common to have multiple characters played by the same actor at the same time – mainly because of the special effects required to show them interacting.
Here are some of the best multiple roles on film and TV.
5. Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black
Recently while watching an episode of the surprisingly good Orphan Black, I found myself thinking: ‘Oh, that’s nice, it’s becoming an ensemble piece’.
Except half the friggin’ ensemble is played by Tatiana Maslany.
There’s one key rule when you’re making a show about clones – you better be damn sure that your central actor is bloody good. Luckily, Maslany is excellent (bar a wobbly London accept – but if we can forgive James Marsters, then we can forgive her). How many other actors need to audition as four characters before they get the part? It was impressive enough when all the clones were leading their separate lives, but once Maslany started playing Sarah-as-Alison and vice-versa, that’s when things got really good.
Each one of her characters are instantly recognisable, and not just because of their hairstyles. Their body language, accent and tone of voice are all completely distinct. It’s a remarkable performance on a scale I don’t think we’ve seen before. Sure, Dollhouse probably had their actors playing more characters than Maslany plays, but they didn’t have to act opposite themselves.
4. Joseph Gilgun – Misfits
Gilgun is essentially just playing aspects of the same character, but those aspects are so different that Rudy 1 and Rudy 2 are entirely their own people. And as for the psychotic Rudy 3 – he’s something else altogether.
While Rudy 1 is bursting with shambolic charisma, Rudy 2 is timid, uncertain and easily bullied. Rudy 1 seems to be an exaggeration of Gilgun’s own funny, rambling nature, but Rudy 2 is a surprising, sweet, loveable portrayal. Even his shuffling gait is completely at odds with Rudy 1’s swagger.
Rudy 3, however, was the character that really showcased Gilgun’s talents. It seemed impossible for Gilgun to be anything other than likeable until the dead-eyed, terrifying (but still charismatic) Rudy 3 showed up. Filming opposite no-one might be a pain in the arse, but as a demonstration of an actor’s skill, it’s really second to none.