10 actors who have played against themselves

Russell Crowe will be both Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham, but he won’t be the first to pull a double-shift in movies…

Jeremy Irons split in two in Dead Ringers (1988)

With the news that Ridley Scott intends to cast Russell Crowe both as Robin Hood and the Sheriff Of Nottingham in the forthcoming Nottingham, we thought we’d take a quick look at other actors who have had to do some very careful marking out with chalk on the studio floor…

Keanu Reeves (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey) Playing an evil version of his own character was no great challenge even for Keanu Reeves since ‘evil’ robot Ted is basically exactly the same as real Ted but does one or two nasty things, with all the same glee and brainlessness as his template. It was the same deal for Alex Winter (playing Bill).

Roger Moore (The Man Who Haunted Himself) Smooth Roger gave possibly his best ever screen performance as the man who discovers that he has apparently split in two after a car accident. The scene where he walks around himself is an ambitious special effect on this budget and in this period, and it’s really Moore’s conviction and desperation that sell the concept.

Michael J. Fox (Back To The Future part 2 & 3) There are one or two slightly clunky dissolve tricks in the numerous scenes of the various Fox McFlys interacting in the hugely popular Robert Zemeckis sequels, but these were very ambitious set-ups, and Fox managed a range of performances. As a woman, he’s strictly a female impersonator though. Elizabeth Shue and Thomas Wilson also had to face off against themselves at different ages.

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William Shatner (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) Kirk often had to face off against himself in Star Trek TOS, but in Nicholas Meyer’s swansong for the old Enterprise crew, the Shat had a full-on fight with morphing alien Iman, who decides to take on the great man in a form that he is least likely to injure and most likely to adore – himself.

Ewan Macgregor (The Island) The Scottish actor dropped his brogue to play Logan-style clone Lincoln 6 echo* in Michael Bay’s 2005 actioner, but kind of dropped back into it when Lincoln 5 came face to face with the original template from which he had been struck, a dying and irredeemable boat-designer from somewhere between Stirling and Chicago, from the sound of it. McGregor’s scenes with himself are some of the best double-work since Dead Ringers.

Mike Myers (Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery, The Spy Who Shagged Me, Goldmember) Myers has played both the over-sexed and buck-toothed Brit hero Powers and his arch-nemesis Dr. Evil in three films now, with a fourth coming up, though it’s perhaps his zeppelin-sized turn as Fat Bastard that leaves, in every sense, the deepest impression.

Jeremy Irons (Dead Ringers) Irons was lauded for not merely playing ‘nice’ and ‘nasty’ in David Cronenberg’s grisly1988 tale of twin gynaecologists, but captured the very subtle tonalities of difference between two very similar characters who had grown up co-dependent. Irons won several awards for his rendition of the brothers Mantle.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – (Sixth Day/Last Action Hero/Total Recall)The governator has a long history of playing with himself. Not content to play both the fictional ‘Quaid’ and his nasty alter-ego in Total Recall, he also met himself as ‘Jack Slater’ in Last Action Hero and in 2000 he teamed up extensively with himself to defeat the cloning nasties in Roger Spottiswoode’s The Sixth Day.

Jean Claude Van Damme (Double Impact) The Mussels From Brussels doubled up to play twins in one of his most popular action outings in 1991. As Alex and Chad Wagner, twins separated at birth, and now determined to take revenge on the criminals who robbed them of their parents.

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John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich) Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich…we don’t necessarily know what the hell this film was really about, but what it was nominally about was John Cusack and Cameron Diaz trying to turn a buck selling tours in John Malkovich’s brain. One eye-popping restaurant scene finds the great actor playing every single person in the place, including the women.

* Lincoln 6 ‘echoing’ Logan 5. Tribute or rip-off? You decide. Nah, I’ve decided for you – it’s a rip-off.

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