Twins make for some of the most memorable characters in a film. Acting twins in themselves is fun to watch but when one actor plays a set of twins it brings to life a sense of intrigue, an interest in how he/she will portray two characters who are at once different and yet the same. The latest addition to this difficult task comes in Richard Ayoade’s The Double (on DVD from 4th August) which sees Jesse Eisenberg play Simon, a man whose entire life is turned upside down when it is taken over by his doppelganger, James. And to celebrate the DVD release of The Double we have put together a list of some of our favourite ever twins in film.
Though James and Oliver Phelps came close with their portrayals of Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter series, no real life identical twins have ever become as synonymous with twins in film as the Grady twins from The Shining. Though their appearance in the film is brief and they in fact say and do very little, it is enough that these girls look creepy to make anyone frightened of them.
The Parent Trap
And from the sublimely creepy we move onto a film full of feel-good feels in The Parent Trap in which a very young Lindsay Lohan plays the dual role of Hallie Parker and Annie James. The second adaptation of Erich Kastner’s novel, Lottie and Lisa (the first being the 1961 version of the same name), the tells the story of identical twin girls who discover they were separated at birth by their parents who agreed to raise one daughter each and hatch a plan to reunite the couple.
The Matrix Reloaded
There were lots of good things (and bad things) about The Matrix Reloaded, one (or two) of them being The Twins. Portrayed by Neil and Adrian Rayment, these pasty white, dreadlocked assassins were a highlight of the film. Their strangely awesome ability to ghost through almost anything coupled with their crazy good fighting skills makes them one of the most memorable duos, not only within the Matrix trilogy, but in film.
If ever you were looking to cast a film about twin gynecologists who slowly lose their minds then Jeremy Irons is your man. David Cronenberg’s 1988 film tells the story of real-life twin gynecologists Stewart and Cyril Marcus, whose drug-addicted downward spirals into total madness is portrayed convincingly and disturbingly by Irons.
Youth In Revolt
When socially inept teenager Nick Twisp (Micheal Cera) meets and falls in love with Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) his lack of confidence leads him to create his alter ego, François Dillinger. Dillinger, a suave and daring troublemaker both helps Nick come out of his shell more but also lands him in considerable trouble with the law. A touching story of one young man’s struggle to find his true self within himself.
A film that sounds too bizarre on paper but is totally genius onscreen largely due to the fact that it is cast so well, Big Business tells the story of two sets of identical twins (played by Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin each playing dual roles) who were accidently mismatched at birth. A fun guilty pleasure.
In one of Nicolas Cage’s finer performances, the Spike Jonze directed Adaptation, though based on Susan Orlean’s non-fiction book The Orchid Thief, in fact tells the story of Charlie Kaufman (who wrote the screenplay with brother Donald and played by Cage) who struggles to adapt The Orchid Thief into a screenplay and his fictional relationship with his deadbeat twin Donald (also played by Cage). The film was widely applauded by critics, earning Cage an Academy Award nomination.
The Social Network
In one of the greatest films to have been released within the last few years, The Social Network (which also stars The Double’s Jesse Eisenberg) sees Armie Hammer deliver his breakout performance as Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. The film, which utilised the CGI skills of Josh Pence saw Hammer seemingly able to appear onscreen with himself at the same time in one of the most eerily effective twin appearances performed by the same actor in a film to date.
The Man in the Iron Mask
A film which takes inspiration but does not closely adhere to the stories of Alexandre Dumas’ famous stories, The Man in the Iron Mask tells the story of the ageing D’Artagnan and the three Musketeers Athos, Aramis, and Porthos during the reign of the unpopular King Louis XIV in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays the dual role of the villainous King and the titular character.
SPOILER ALERT! Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige is unique in that no one knows, including the audience, that Alfred and Fallon are in fact identical twins. Portrayed as Alfred’s mysterious assistant, Fallon is mostly relegated to the background of the film and it is only in the final moments that Nolan reveals the true deception of the film and pulls it off wonderfully.