Once, a woman’s role on television was either the wife or the secretary, a part not requiring a lot of physical action in any way. That has changed over the years with actresses now stepping it up majorly in more daring series. From action-oriented shows to more wild sci-fi stories, ladies need a lot more doubles to keep themselves safe and production on top. It’s increased with some sci-fi series where an actress plays dual roles and thus you need a double to help create the illusion. A simple injury can delay production for weeks or months so even for minor stunts, a double is a lot more preferable to a possible injury to a leading actress.
Of course, producers like to push the idea of a lady doing all her own stunts and try to ignore the use of doubles. However, there are plenty of pics of ladies on set of TV shows as they get ready for stunts or another scene alongside their doubles. Some are from current shows but others come from classic TV series as ladies have been utilizing stunt doubles for a while. True, in many cases, they barely look alike, just a wig needed for long shots for the fight scenes. But some are surprisingly similar and utilized in fun ways. Here are 15 TV starlets with their doubles and how they help bring these characters to life.
16. Lena Headey And Doreena Moore – Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Lena Headey was known more for quiet English dramas for several years. That changed when she got her fantastic role as Queen Gorgo in the hit 300. In 2008, she landed the challenging task of taking on the role of Sarah Connor in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Headey performed the role much differently than Linda Hamilton, making Sarah relatable but very tough. To handle the action, Headey was backed by Doreena Moore, a double who did look a lot like her on the set. This pic showcases the great likeness that made the show a cult success.
Headey would get a more famous bit of doubling on Game of Thrones. For a key scene where Cersei is marched naked through the streets, Headey was actually pregnant at the time. Thus, a double was used for the march for long shots and Headey’s face CGI’d into it later. In either case, Headey shows how she manages to use her double well to stand tall on TV.
15. Melissa Benoist And Shauna Duggins – Supergirl
Even the Girl of Steel needs some help. When CBS began their super-hero show Supergirl, the casting of Melissa Benoist was a surprise. The actress was well known for Glee but not that much on the action front. But Benoist has made the show a hit with fans relating to her down-to-earth take on the heroine. She gets major aid from veteran stuntwoman Shauna Duggins. The woman is best known for doubling Jennifer Garner on Alias but has also taken on stuff for Cameron Diaz, Jordanna Brewster and Charlize Theron.
So Duggins is a good choice to handle the stunt work for Benoist on Supergirl. She had experience doing stunts for Adrienne Palicki in the infamously bad Wonder Woman pilot that was thankfully passed over. She now handles the main fight scenes of the show although Benoist has to still do the sometimes painful harness work for her character’s flight scenes.
14. Anna Paquin And Brit Morgan – True Blood
Here’s a good twofer for folks. When True Blood premiered in 2008, viewers were amazed at this fun world where vampires are in the open and getting into wild stuff. Another surprise was Oscar-winner Anna Paquin starring as Sookie Stackhouse, the waitress soon involved with a vampire. Paquin amazed by throwing herself into the series, complete with baring all in very steamy love scenes. A running plot was Sookie clashing with Brit Morgan’s Debbie Pelt, a werewolf attracted to Sookie’s friend Alcide. Incredibly jealous, Debbie began getting out of control, leading to violence against Sookie.
The final result was a knock-down, drag-out fight between them that got very deadly. This pic shows the duo with their stunt doubles, Morgan and her double showing the makeup needed for the nasty fight scene. While Paquin prefers going herself for the nude scenes, this showcases a nice quartet that makes Blood a wild ride.
13. Lynda Carter And Jeannie Epper – Wonder Woman
With all respect to Gal Gadot, when you mention the best live-action version of Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter is the one that comes to mind. The former beauty pageant and Miss World contestant was perfect in looks for the role of the Amazon princess on the 1970s TV series and the sight of her in that iconic costume was glorious. While she was amazing in the role, Carter still needed help with the stuntwork and stunts for women wasn’t as common on TV back then. Still, Jeannie Epper did her best to help Carter out with stunts, usually the long jumps of Diana and dives into pools and water. They did a great job as Epper could pass for Carter in the long shots and make the stunts look believable (as the 1970s didn’t have nearly the tech to cover for such doubling). This pic is fun as Epper shows her strength hoisting a laughing Carter in her arms and that maybe she had a better claim to being an Amazon.
12. Jennifer Garner And Shanna Duggins – Alias
Jennifer Garner was one of those actresses bouncing around television for a while with a few short-lived series (such as the Jennifer Love Hewitt drama Time of Your Life) but nothing notable. That all changed in 2001 when J.J. Abrams cast her in the main role of Sydney Bristow on the spy series Alias. It made Garner an instant star as she handled slews of action sequences and disguises and became an instant hit. Of course, she needed aid for the major action scenes and was assigned Shanna Duggins. The two hit it off well as Duggins also had to handle the wild outfits and Garner making it look like it was her in some of the wild stuff.
The two had a good bond and Duggins would continue to do stunt work for Garner in films from Elektra to the comedy 13 Going on 30. This pic shows Garner giving support to Duggins at an awards show and recognizing how the woman helped make Garner an action favorite.
11. Jennifer Lopez And Vanessa Vander Pluym – Shades Of Blue
Even at 47, Jennifer Lopez continues to amaze. Barely looking as if she’s aged, Lopez remains on the top of her game as a recording star, performing and a tabloid figure. She’s added TV fame to her list now, starring in the hit NBC drama Shades of Blue. It involves plenty of stunt work as Lopez plays a single mom cop forced to work against her corrupt partners for the FBI. Lopez is involved in a lot like running about, leaping over fences and even off a building. To handle that, Vanessa Vander Pluym is her stunt double and the actress does a good job looking like Lopez enough on set to pass in wide shots. Lopez handles the bulk of stuff (such as the steamy love scenes) and looks utterly amazing at her age yet Pluym is a good help to make the show work and remind folks how great J’Lo still is.
10. Lucy Lawless And Zoe Bell – Xena: Warrior Princess
When Xena: Warrior Princess began, Lucy Lawless insisted on doing many of the stunts herself. The gorgeous actress wanted to go full out and make it all look real to help the show out. However, a stunt on horseback caused Lawless to fall and break her leg, making her unavailable for a few weeks. It also changed her attitude to realize she was better off letting someone else take on the riskier stuff. Enter Zoe Bell, a veteran stuntwoman who did a great job aping Lawless. This pic shows them both in the classic Xena costume and the good bond with Lawless giving Bell props for making her look better on screen.
Bell has gone on to have a good career as a stuntwoman and also appearing in movies like Grindhouse and The Hateful Eight. Bell continues to do stunts for everyone from Uma Thurman to Sandra Bullock yet Xena showed a great push for her nicely and how her work made Lawless a geek icon.
9. Sarah Michelle Gellar And Sophia Crawford – Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The key to Buffy the Vampire Slayer was that this blond gal who looked more like a cheerleader was an ace fighter tangling with the supernatural. Sarah Michelle Gellar was only 5’4” when she landed the role and more used to soap opera acting than action scenes. So to back her up, she got aid from Sophia Crawford, a noted Australian martial artist. The two did well (even if Crawford was actually a bit taller than Gellar) as Crawford worked on the first four seasons of the show. Buffy isn’t the only one Crawford has doubled for as she also did stunts for Amy Jo Johnson as the Pink Ranger on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and its 1995 big-screen movie. Crawford even married Buffy editor Jeff Pruitt in 1998 and the two remain a couple today. Even though she’s 50, Crawford still is keeping up stunt work for TV shows and movies and this pic shows how well balanced she and Gellar were to bring the Slayer to life.
8. Emilia Clarke And Rosie Mac – Game Of Thrones
With such a huge production, it should be no surprise that Game of Thrones requires a lot of its actors. That includes handling various shoots across different countries and a schedule that’s very tight. As such, for some roles, actors need stand-ins to handle longer shots while they handle a different scene. Emilia Clarke is a key example as several of her scenes require some tricky work, especially the CGI dragons her Daenerys controls. Rosie Mac is the actress who handles it, putting up with the same long blonde wig Clarke does for the stand-in, usually for the special effects and some outdoors shots.
It’s an excellent likeness to the point some fans may confuse them from a distance. Mac also handles a few of the more daring stunts like when Daenerys grabs onto a flying dragon. However, Clarke does make it clear that when it comes to the series’ infamous nude scenes, that really is her on screen. Still, Mac makes for an intriguing double despite there being only one true Mother of Dragons.
7. Summer Glau And Sonja Munsterman – Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Summer Glau had been a former ballerina, thus giving her experience able to use her body well. She had cameoed in an episode of Angel to catch the eye of Joss Whedon. He thus cast her as River Tam, the quirky psychic turned bad-ass fighter in his cult series Firefly. While the show was canceled fast, it became a beloved hit and inspired the big-screen movie Serenity where Glau had a sensational fight scene against dozens of opponents.
Glau then won the role of Cameron, a reprogrammed Terminator on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She did great as this machine, not fancy fighting but good battles, often in hard makeup to show the metallic shell underneath. This pic has her with double Sonja Munsterman who did a good job replicating Glau on set, handling the lithe work needed to make this work. Since the show ended, Glau has been a favorite of geek shows like Dollhouse, Alphas and Arrow and shows how for a lady of small size, she has a major action standing.
6. Grace Park And Lauren May Kim – Hawai Five-O
Grace Park is an actress well used to “doubles” work. Her breakout role was as Sharon/Boomer/Athena on the revival of Battlestar Galactica. Being a Cylon, she naturally played various versions of herself and often in very steamy bits (like a love scene in the rain). No doubt, Park thought that would be dropped when she left the show. But then she got the role of Kono on the revival of Hawaii Five-O, a series that uses her in plenty of action scenes. Park does show off in some scenes like a nice dress and a memorable episode where she engages in a chase of a trio of crooks on surfboards.
Lauren May Kim is Park’s stunt double, handling the tough stuff of fight scenes and chase sequences through the island jungles. The two do look alike and aid each other in scenes as Park still looks glamorous despite all the dirt and sweat and occasional blood. Even for a cop, it’s hard to look bad in Hawaii as Park and Kim prove.
5. Alyson Hannigan And friends – Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Usually on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar was the one handling the big stunt work. But as the character of Willow grew in magical power, Alyson Hannigan got more in the thick of things. In the classic episode “The Wish,” we see a horrible alternate world where vampires rule Sunnydale and Willow and Xander are vampire lovers. It was such a hit that the producers decided to return to it with “Doppelgangland.” A magical spell causes the vampire Willow to enter the regular reality and naturally there’s plenty of confusion with two Willow around.
Making it wilder is when vampires take over the Bronze so Willow has to pretend to be her double in order to save the day. This sets up this fantastic photo: Hannigan as “real” Willow dressed as her vampire double; two doubles, each made up as Vamp Willow (in her “game face”) dressed as the real Willow; and a third stunt double also dressed in the Vamp Willow outfit. It shows how much work was needed to make one of the best episodes of the series work.
4. Jaimie Alexander And Ky Furneaux – Blindspot
NBC’s Blindspot has one of the cooler openings of any recent show. A bag in Times Square is opened to reveal a woman with amnesia whose naked body is covered in tattoos. Jaimie Alexander is well cast in the role of Jane Doe, who is trying to figure out her past while also helping the FBI as every tattoo points to a mysterious case. Jane soon discovers the truth of her past as a dark-ops soldier who got into a bad deal and the show gives Alexander plenty of action scenes to do.
The actress had come to fame as Lady Sif in the Thor movies so she was well-used to the action. Of course, she has to handle a lot more stunts and needed some aid with the martial arts moves. So Alexander got help from her long-time friend Ky Furneaux, an expert in martial arts. The two are great bonding on the set and like Alexander, Furneaux goes through makeup to get the tattoos as well to look right. That bond helps in the scenes and it lets the duo stand out very well for the fun show.
3. Ming Na Wen And Samantha Jo – Agents Of SHIELD
At the age of 53, Ming-Na Wen looks absolutely stunning. The veteran actress was cast in 2013 for the key role of Matilda May, the top-notch cool as ice agent on the Marvel series Agents of SHIELD. Wen looks amazing in the tight leather outfit and a cool demeanor that just makes her hotter while also handling the show’s numerous fight scenes. Wen does as many of her own stunts as she can but obviously, even she can’t handle everything. So veteran stuntwoman Samantha Jo is recruited for some of the wilder segments and she and Wen get along well.
A great highlight was an episode where May takes on a wicked double of herself in a glamorous evening dress. Jo handled the fight scenes well with CGI handling the lookalike bit and both giving their all to the scene. This pic shows how they keep up the practice off camera as well to maintain the bond that’s made May one of the best parts of SHIELD.
2. Anna Torv And Atlin Mitchell – Fringe
Anna Torv wasn’t that well known an actress, even in her native land of Australia. In 2008, she auditioned by video for a new J.J. Abrams series, Fringe and landed the key role of Olivia Dunham. Most of the show had Olivia handling the rather bizarre cases in an office but going into the field for some antics. As the series progressed and the show got wilder, Canadian Atlin Mitchell was brought in to handle some of the key stunts of the series such as fights and jumps out of windows.
A big use was in the third season when the show focused on an alternate reality where Olivia has darker hair and a more action-oriented attitude. Thus, Atlin was used for scenes where the two Olivias meet so Torv could have someone to act against for the editors to use. It was a great job by both that elevated the show up nicely into a cult hit. This pic shows them on set in the darker hair and whatever Olivia Torv played, Mitchell helped Torv make it shine.
1. Tatiana Maslany And Kathryn Alexandre – Orphan Black
The reason why Orphan Black has been a huge success can be summed up in two words: Tatiana Maslany. The Canadian actress has stunned critics and audiences with the brilliant way she plays multiple clones in the cult sci-fi drama. She makes each one so distinct and individual that when you watch, you honestly believe you’re seeing three or four different actresses together. It’s earned Maslany huge praise and a well-deserved Emmy award but she can’t do the illusion all by herself.
The way it works is that Maslany has to run a scene as one clone with her body double Kathryn Alexandre playing the other. Then, they switch characters so Maslany can play the other clone opposite Alexandre. Then Maslany repeats the scene for each character against empty air so the CGI guys can edit her opposing performance in. It gets more complicated the more clones are in a scene and Maslany credits Alexandre with aiding her amazing performance and making the illusion of more than one of her work so well. Together, they bring this magnificent performance to life to make fans believe it’s more than just one woman on screen.