The 10 best performances by actors who played a pair of twins

  • 11 best performances actors who played their own twins in films

We've seen the stunning new trailer for Tom Hardy's new film Legend, where he plays both London's legendary gangland Cray twins, Ronnie and Reggie.

With the power of split screen, face-mapping and other magic movie technology, a few actors have successfully pulled off playing twins on screen.

So here are the best performances by actors who played their own twins - obviously Adam Sandler and his Jack & Jill performance doesn't make the list.

10. Bill Bailey - Hot Fuzz

A very minor plot point in Edgar Wright's police action comedy was that Bill Bailey's Desk Sgt Turner were actually twins.

According to the director, one reads novels by Iain Banks, while the other Iain M. Banks - the same author, Iain Banks uses his middle initial when writing science-fiction, rather than normal fiction.

In the DVD commentary, the joke was lost on most people, especially Americans.

9. Jean-Claude Van Damme - Double Impact/Maximum Risk

JCVD seems to love playing twin brothers, starting with 1991's double impact in which he plays Chad and Alex Wagner, twins separated at the death of their parents - Chad runs a successful martial arts business in LA, while Alex has become a petty crook in Hong Kong.

Then in 1996, Jean-Claude returned to the double act in Maximum Risk, as Alain, French cop who discovers his dead twin brother, a member of the Russian Mafia, who now Alain is mistaken for.

As well as these two twin performances by Van Damme, he also played multiple characters in the same film in Time Cop, Replicant and Order.

8. Freddie Highmore - The Spiderwick Chronicles

The young British star had to act as both Jared and Simon Grace in front of green screens, with the CGI-added fairies and mythical creatures in the 2008 fantasy adventure.

As well as that, he had to learn an American accent to play the pair, but had to develop unique speech patterns for each of Grace Twins.

Highmore was rightfully praised for his portrayal of the twins.

7. Paul Dano - There Will Be Blood

Dano originally was supposed to just play the small role as Paul Sunday in Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood.

When the original actor for Eli, Kel O'Neill dropped out during filming, the character was written to be twins with Paul Sunday, although the characters do not appear on screen together.

Daniel Day-Lewis had a year to prepare for his role as Daniel Plainview, while Paul Thomas Anderson asked Dano to play the role with four days’ notice.

6. Edward Norton - Leaves of Grass

Norton was so desperate to play twins Bill and Brady Kincaid in Leaves of Grass that he claims he took a 50 per cent pay cut.

Norton stars as a university professor who is lured back to his Oklahoma hometown by his drug dealer twin brother for his scheme to take down a local drug kingpin.

The dual performance of Norton was praised in this comedy thriller, who screenwriter Tim Blake Nelson explained that he had no second choice, as he wrote the characters with Norton in mind.

5. Armie Hammer - The Social Network

Hammer played rowing powerhouses Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who they claim had their social network idea stolen by Mark Zuckerberg to create Facebook.

In some scenes, Armand Hammer (yep, that's his real name) played the Winklevoss twins along with the help of body double Josh Pence, who then had Hammer's face digitally grafted over his in post-production.

Also classic split-screen photography was used in other scenes.

Director David Fincher sent Hammer and Pence to a “twin boot camp" for 10 months to build a rapport and learn each other's subtle movements and mannerisms.

4. Jeremy Irons - Dead Ringers

The psychological thriller loosely based on the lives of Stewart and Cyril Marcus, with Jeremy Irons as Beverly and Elliot Mantle - twin gynaecologists running a successful practice in Toronto.

A troubled actress comes into the surgery and is seduced by the more outgoing Elliot, but has the shyer Beverly fall in love with her, only for things to go downhill from there.

Initially, Jeremy Irons had two separate dressing rooms and wardrobes for each of the twins, before he merged the two as he realised that throughout the story, it becomes confused over which twin is which.

He kept track of whether he was playing Elliott or Beverley by playing one with his weight on the balls of his feet and the other with his weight on his heels.

3. Nicolas Cage - Adaptation

Everyone's favourite Hollywood madman, Nicolas Cage secured himself a Best Actor Oscar nomination for playing twin brothers Charlie and Donald Kaufman in the comedy drama written by the real-life Charlie Kaufman.

Charlie is a neurotic screenwriter who is suffering from a serious case of writer's block, while his brother Donald is carefree twin who decides to become a screenwriter too.

Cage donned a fat suit to play the brothers and scored an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, while Charlie Kaufman - and his fictional twin brother Donald - bagged the Best Adapted Screenplay nod.

2. Lindsay Lohan - The Parent Trap

Back in 1998, a fresh-faced Lindsay Lohan took on the role of separated-at-birth twins Hallie and Annie, originally played in 1961 by Hayley Mills.

Not only having to play against herself as twins, Lindsay Lohan manages to pull off a semi-decent English accent too.

The success of The Parent trap saw Lohan secure roles in Freaky Friday and Herbie: Fully Loaded, before hitting the downward spiral in a big way.

1. Christian Bale - The Prestige

The big twist in the end of Christopher Nolan's majestic Victorian magician thriller was that Christian Bale's character was able to pull off his seemingly-impossible big trick was because they were actually twins.

Obviously an actor of the calibre of Christian Bale portrayed the different brothers subtly differently, not enough so it was obvious, but enough for you to notice in repeat viewings in interactions with their wife and mistress, and little differences.

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