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TBC Selects

TBC Video Mix: Five Great Performances by Actors Doing Double Duty

May 8, 2023

A collection of films and TV shows that allow actors to showcase their range by playing two characters (or more).

Q&A with Hazel Savage

For TBC’s Video Mix series, our team of movie and TV experts makes recommendations so that you’re never stuck with a million streaming services and nothing to watch.

Some actors can't say no to a challenge. Cast as twin gynecologists in Amazon Prime's 2023 reimagining of David Cronenberg's 1988 psychosexual thriller Dead Ringers, Rachel Weisz delivers the performance(s) of the moment with a pair that are as skillful and startling as anything you'll see this year. Better yet, they're free of the gimmicky air that has often hampered actors playing multiple roles. Below are five more examples of actors who transcend the many challenges that come with having yourself as your co-star.

Nicolas Cage in Adaptation (2002)

Spike Jonze's ultra-meta comedy could've been a purely cerebral exercise if not for all the emotion Cage invests in his balancing act. While Charlie's heartbreaking vulnerability and insecurity may make him the most obvious object of sympathy (and frustration), Cage never makes Charlie's more confident brother Donald seem like a buffoon. The brothers' need for each other is touching, too.

Where to watch: VOD

Kim Novak in Vertigo (1958)

Nothing in Alfred Hitchcock's twisted tale of sexual obsession can be taken at face value, least of all the apparent lack of connection between the ill-fated woman that Jimmy Stewart's tortured detective falls for and the one he remakes in his dead lover's image. What's clear as a bell is Kim Novak's finesse as she secures the two highest spots in Hitchcock's fabled gallery of blondes.

Where to watch: VOD

Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black (2013-2017)

Few actors are as gifted in complicated roles as Tatiana Maslany. She’s an unstoppable force as the many-accented iterations of a cluster of clones in this crafty Canadian science-fiction series. If we had to choose a favorite of the "sisters" (Maslany played 11 in all), we'll go with Alison, always more than your average soccer mom. 

Where to watch: Paramount Plus

Paul Rudd in Living With Yourself (2019)

Hollywood's preeminent nice-guy actor has never seemed more playful than he is when dialing his usual charms up and down as a sadsack longing for a better life who ends up saddled with a clone eager to supplant him. The ingenious choreography of the series' bravura Rudd-on-Rudd fight scene is hard to beat, too.

Where to watch: Netflix

Rory Kinnear in Men (2022)

Ex-Machina director Alex Garland devised a striking means of exploring the theme of male toxicity by surrounding his horror drama's heroine (Jessie Buckley) with a wide variety of increasingly sinister men, each of whom is played to extremely creepy effect by Rory Kinnear. What could've been ludicrous unfolds with the eerie logic of a nightmare.

Where to watch: Showtime

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