Total Recall: Actors Playing Opposite Themselves

With Jack and Jill hitting theaters, we run down some of cinema's most memorable dual performances by single thespians.

JCVD

If we had to guess, we'd say more than a few of you probably aren't looking forward to this weekend's Jack and Jill, starring Adam Sandler as a Los Angeles ad exec... and as his obnoxious twin sister. But even if it most likely isn't destined to win any Golden Tomato awards, Jack and Jill is still part of the long Hollywood tradition of actors playing their own twins, and decided to take this opportunity to revisit a few examples from the genre. From action to comedy, critical darling to cult classic, twins are everywhere at the cineplex. It's it's time time to to Total Total Recall Recall!

Adaptation

91%

We all love to complain about Hollywood's unquenchable thirst for remakes, reboots, and sequels, but every once in awhile, something truly original sneaks through and manages to make an impact. Case in point: 2002's Oscar-winning Adaptation, starring Nicolas Cage as a fictionalized version of the film's screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman, as well as his fictional twin brother Donald. Confused? Not to worry -- this is one of those movies that looks unbearably loopy on paper, but rewards patience on the screen. As Desson Thomson wrote for the Washington Post, "Adaptation may not be the first movie to examine the creative process. But it's the most playfully brilliant."

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Back to the Future Part II

64%

How do you top the most successful sci-fi-action-comedy time travel movie ever made? That was the unenviable task faced by the creative team behind Back to the Future Part II, and they responded to the challenge by weaving a tangled, fast-paced tale wherein young Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) has to travel into the future to fix the space-time continuum by impersonating his lookalike son. Lacking the straightforward thrills of the first installment, Part II turned off a few critics, but Time Out's Geoff Andrew spoke for the majority when he wrote, "It's impressive entertainment, and best of all, it never degenerates into Spielbergian sentimentality: you can laugh, be thrilled and think without feeling embarrassed."

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Big Business

36%

Okay, so at 25 percent on the Tomatometer, Big Business isn't one of the bigger critical winners on our list -- and yeah, Roger Ebert did describe it as "endless and dreary" before dismissing its cheerful reliance on sitcom-style "missed 'em by that much" humor by saying simply, "It is never funny, in this movie or any other movie." But c'mon -- with Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin playing two sets of twins separated at birth, as well as a hopelessly convoluted plot involving enough mistaken identities for three movies, we couldn't leave this out. "Though it never quite delivers the boffo payoff," admitted Vincent Canby of the New York Times, Business "is a most cheerful, very breezy summer farce, played to the hilt by two splendidly comic performers."

Dead Ringers

83%

What's even creepier than a David Cronenberg movie about a disturbed gynecologist? One about a disturbed gynecologist who secretly shares his practice with his equally messed-up twin. Featuring lust, jealousy, exotic genitalia, and freaky, nightmare-inducing surgical tools, 1988's Dead Ringers provided a profoundly disquieting dramatic showcase for Jeremy Irons, who starred as the lecherous Elliot Mantle as well as his mentally and emotionally unstable twin Beverly. "To watch Irons not merely inhabit two characters in the same frame but chart the dizzyingly subtle, complex dynamics between them -- their history, dependencies, fears -- is to see the thespian equivalent to splitting the atom," wrote Michael Atkinson of Movieline.

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Double Impact

14%

Jean-Claude Van Damme settled the "nature vs. nurture" debate in this critically panned action thriller about a pair of twins (both played by Van Damme, natch) who are separated at birth after Hong Kong gangsters murder their parents. Chad and Alex grow up to be very different people (One's a California snob! One smokes cigars!), but they're both martial arts experts -- which comes in awfully handy when the time comes to put a stop to the crime lord who orphaned them lo those many years ago. "Van Damme was never great with drama, lousy with the English language," admitted Brian Orndorf in one of Double Impact's few positive reviews, "but put the man in tight pants and surround him with Asian stuntmen, and there's pure joy to be had."

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Comments

Greg D.

Greg DeMella

first

Nov 9 - 04:15 PM

Jhon E.

Jhon Evans

Where's Moon?

Nov 9 - 11:15 PM

adler-s

Adler Ng

damn right you are!

Nov 10 - 12:06 AM

Geren W.

Geren Waters

I'd put it up there or above Irons in Dead Ringer. Great, truly subtle movie.

Nov 10 - 09:40 AM

Roman Zolanski

Gaylord Focker

what an ***hole

Nov 10 - 09:39 AM

Jason H.

Jason Huang

oh yeah... where is moon... that was a great movie... but adaptation was pretty good...

Nov 10 - 05:08 PM

DrJonathanCrane

Timothy Bridge

No love for Edward Norton in "Leaves of Grass"?

Nov 9 - 04:19 PM

Swampfox

Pat Marion

First thing that came to my mind too. What a waste of a list.

Nov 10 - 06:43 AM

Rohit Ramachandran

Rohit Ramachandran

Seriously, where the fuck?

Nov 13 - 12:26 PM

Rachel W.

Rachel Woloshin

Dead Again?

Nov 9 - 04:43 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

YES!!!

Nov 9 - 07:30 PM

Dave J

Dave J

"Sisters" directed by Brian DePalma, 1964 film "Dead Ringer" with Bette Davis from TCM, "Army of Darkness" with Bruce Campbell, the 1972 movie "The Other" with 86 percent, "Star Trek- The Undiscovered Country VI" Kirk vs Kirk" little scene, "The Prince And The Pauper" with Errol Flynn to name a few...

Nov 9 - 04:49 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

Army of Darkness is awesome when Ash fights all the mini-Ashes!

Nov 9 - 05:08 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Agree, I love that scene as well!

Nov 9 - 05:16 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

God, I love Army of Darkness! "That was just pillow talk, baby."

Nov 9 - 07:31 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I nominate Bruce's hand from "Evil Dead II". "Uh-huh. That's right..."

Nov 9 - 07:56 PM

Ed Tom B.

Ed Tom Bell

It should have won an Oscar for that.

Nov 10 - 04:01 AM

ManifestPanda

Nay Nay Bauer

groovy

Nov 10 - 03:01 AM

MisterVile

Mister Vile

Hail to the King

Nov 10 - 08:09 AM

Dave J

Dave J

It's kinda weird that what Sandler is doing is what Murphy used to do when he was doing "The Nutty Professor" films and Norbit and his name is not even mentioned at all!

Nov 10 - 02:46 PM

Dean W.

Dean Wirth

The Other (a classic), Undiscovered Country (Star Trek) and the Evil Dead one are ridiculously overlooked.

Nov 11 - 07:01 AM

popyea

nick mckergow

oh my gosh, no love for moon?
but props for adaptation.

Nov 9 - 05:05 PM

Vitto

nick vitto

Yeah forgot about Moon. Sam rocked it very well.

Nov 9 - 05:35 PM

Anthony B.

Anthony Bois

Good one !

Nov 11 - 02:24 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

I like Adaptation, The Parent Trap (of all movies), The Social Network, and Back to the Future II a lot. I've never seen Dead Ringers, but I enjoy a lot of Cronenberg's films, and am very curious after reading that little summary in the run down.

Double Impact is one of JCVD's best! You get double the Damme! Seriously, it is an outrageously cheesy movie with too many idoitic momoments to count; that is why it is awesome! I like how Jeff Giles mentioned the fact that BOTH of the twins are expert at martial arts in the movie, despite growing up on opposite sides of the world in different families in different cultures. It is also strange that both of them are expert marksman, too! This is especially hilarious since one of the Damme's is a yoga instructor before meeting up with the other Van Damme and all of a sudden becoming a death dealing badass.

Nov 9 - 05:07 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

Army of Darkness is awesome when Ash fights all the mini-Ashes!

Nov 9 - 05:08 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Agree, I love that scene as well!

Nov 9 - 05:16 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

God, I love Army of Darkness! "That was just pillow talk, baby."

Nov 9 - 07:31 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I nominate Bruce's hand from "Evil Dead II". "Uh-huh. That's right..."

Nov 9 - 07:56 PM

Ed Tom B.

Ed Tom Bell

It should have won an Oscar for that.

Nov 10 - 04:01 AM

Dave J

Dave J

Agree, I love that scene as well!

Nov 9 - 05:16 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

God, I love Army of Darkness! "That was just pillow talk, baby."

Nov 9 - 07:31 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

John Lithgow in "Raising Cane"! Nicolas Cage was brilliant in "Adaptation". There's never any question whether you were looking at Charles or Donald. Very subtle and effective, unlike 90% of his performances since.

Nov 9 - 05:16 PM

Patrick R.

Patrick R

Totally oversight by not including Moon. Also The Prestige should get a nod.

Nov 9 - 05:19 PM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

There's only one or two scenes in which there are two Bales at the same time. I don't think it counts.

Nov 9 - 07:07 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

This is a borderline spoiler, dude, but I don't think it qualifies as 'opposite'.

Nov 9 - 07:10 PM

Vitto

nick vitto

They totally forgot Jim Varney in Ernest Goes to Jail. I'm not even joking. Those two roles he played really showed off his skills as an actor in general, not just an on screen clown. Swarchenegger in The 6th Day wasn't bad either.

Nov 9 - 05:23 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

I completely agree about Ernest. But you lost me on The 6th Day.

Nov 9 - 07:32 PM

Dave J

Dave J

The 6th Day is really not that bad- honest! Wasn't it the first film that dealt about clones in general!

Nov 10 - 12:55 PM

Anthony B.

Anthony Bois

Agreed !

Nov 11 - 02:25 PM

Dave J

Dave J

They mentioned "Double Impact", but where's "The Replicant" which is also a clone movie similar to "The 6th Day"!

Nov 15 - 01:26 PM

Vitto

nick vitto

Yeah forgot about Moon. Sam rocked it very well.

Nov 9 - 05:35 PM

Anthony B.

Anthony Bois

Good one !

Nov 11 - 02:24 PM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

Adaptation is a very good movie and one of Cage's best moments in the past 15 years.

I remember liking The Man in the Iron Mask a lot the first time I saw it, then watched it again like 2 years ago and couldn't help but think "man, Jeremy Irons was in some deep debt back then, this crap AND Dungeons and Dragons" haha.

Speaking of Leo, I have noticed J. Edgar has brought A LOT of fanboyism to the reviews. It's like they are getting us ready for when Twilight hits the theatres.

Nov 9 - 06:18 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

I just saw Man in the Iron Mask recently. Ugh.

Nov 9 - 07:33 PM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

It's unbeleivably bad. It was when Leo was still riding the Titanic fame rollercoaster, so he you know, couldn't act for shit

Nov 10 - 08:55 AM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

I didn't even have problems with just his acting. The whole movie was a mess.

Nov 10 - 12:51 PM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

There's only one or two scenes in which there are two Bales at the same time. I don't think it counts.

Nov 9 - 07:07 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

This is a borderline spoiler, dude, but I don't think it qualifies as 'opposite'.

Nov 9 - 07:10 PM

Nik S.

Nik Summers

double impact was a huge part of my childhood. in no small measure because of the boobs scene. keepin it classy.

Nov 9 - 07:11 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

That chick was smokin hot. Van Damme didn't deserve that.

Nov 10 - 09:16 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"Superman III", anybody? That was pretty funny at least.

Nov 9 - 07:18 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

I don't count that one only because I refuse to believe it was actually made. The first two were so wonderful that the shitty III & IV are dead to me.

Nov 9 - 07:33 PM

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