For the average person, being mistaken for a celebrity is enough to make your day. For celebrities, being confused with a famous rival is enough to haunt your career – and even cost you important, A-list gigs.
Of course, Hollywood is a very small town and an elite industry, so it’s no surprise that most celebrities tend to laugh it off when their trademark looks are mistaken for another famous face in interviews or in the wider media. Sometimes the stars take it even further than that – some of the confusing pairs on this list will even oblige eager fans with photographs, phone calls to family members and even forged signatures, all in the name of maintaining the illusion and avoiding the awkward moment of having to correct an excited fan.
If you've ever wondered why Javier Bardem bounces so jarringly from intense, dramatic roles to popcorn movies and chick flicks, or if you've accidentally mistaken a portrait of Nelson Mandela for Morgan Freeman (ouch) then hopefully the list below will help you clear up the confusion caused by the most ridiculously confusing celebrity doppelgangers in Hollywood.
15 Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg
Both from Boston, both 42 and both having shared the screen in The Departed, Damon and Wahlberg are close friends who laugh about this common mix-up. In fact, they made a pact together that if one of them is mistaken for the other, they have to be as polite as possible so as not to tarnish the other’s reputation. They frequently oblige eager fans who mistake them for the wrong handsome-Boston-action-movie-star, even going as far as signing autographs as their doppelgangers.
14 Nelson Mandela and Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman was the obvious choice to play the famous South African politician and human rights activist in the 2009 film, Invictus. But a few years later, months after Mandela’s death, it seemed that Mandela's fans and admirers were a little confused. Millions of Twitter users tweeted thoughtful messages and inspirational quotes in Mandela's honor – with photographs of Freeman attached. The mix-up even went as far as having Freeman’s face incorrectly printed on a billboard meant to memorialize the deceased icon. One can only hope the history books, at least, will get it right.
13 Glenn Close and Meryl Streep
Two of the most prestigious and well-respected actresses in Hollywood, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close have frequently gone head-to-head in their careers, even being nominated in the same categories at the Academy Awards at the same time. It’s been rumoured that they’ve had to fight it out to win roles, too. But make no mistake – these doppelgangers are all class. When asked about the rumors, Meryl quickly cut them short: “On behalf of Glenn Close and me, who are often mistaken for each other, there should be no illusions… I adore her.”
12 Kevin Spacey and John Cusack
This pair was famously confused in an unfortunate interview, in which a college student mistook Cusack for the star of “that movie with the roses” – American Beauty. In reality, it was Spacey who won a Best Actor Academy Award for the role of Lester Burnham.
11 Chace Crawford and Ian Somerhalder
Those piercing baby blues, those sky-high cheekbones and that carefully crafted stubble – we aren’t complaining about this double dose of steamy stars. In fact, we'll throw in an extra doppelganger teen heartthrob with the same chiseled features and tousled hair: Zac Efron! It seems this particular brand of handsome is very much in vogue right now, creating a bevvy of oddly similar-looking beauties gracing our screens.
10 Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman
Frequently mistaken for each other by paparazzi, Keira Knightley has recounted many stories of being chased down in airports – being called Natalie the entire time. Rather than get upset over the mix-up, Knightley turns the joke on us, demanding the paps get a picture and an autograph. We wonder how many times “Natalie” has popped up in magazines, with no one the wiser that it’s actually the equally stunning Pirates star. The resemblance between the two has been noted in Hollywood; a younger Knightley stood in as a double for Portman in Star Wars.
9 Timothy Olyphant and Josh Duhamel
Quick quiz: Which of these actors starred in Transformers? How about The Crazies? And can you also guess which one is married to Fergie? If you answered all of those right, your knowledge of pop culture is much more advanced than most. Josh Duhamel reveals that he’s often mistaken for other celebs, including Olyphant (star of The Crazies), Jackass’s Johnny Knoxville, and – the comparison he’s most proud of – Ryan Seacrest.
8 Erika Christensen and Julia Stiles
When they were first starting out, many fans didn't even realize that the beautiful actress who gave a terrifying performance in 2002’s Swimfan wasn't actually the same angsty teen from 10 Things I Hate About You. Today, both stars have made names for themselves as highly respected actresses – although the occasional slip-up is still bound to happen, as these two bear an uncanny resemblance to each other.
7 Michelle Williams and Carey Mulligan
It’s not enough that these two beautiful ladies share the same smoky eyes and impeccable sense of style – for Mulligan’s role in The Great Gatsby, she cut her hair in almost exactly the same style as Williams’ longtime pixie ‘do. The resemblance is striking, but these actresses both do an incredible job of setting themselves apart on the big screen.
6 Mila Kunis and Sarah Hyland
Though both got their starts as teens, Mila Kunis and Sarah Hyland have little in common besides their stunning good looks. Kunis has earned a reputation as a lovable but steamy starlet through her roles in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Black Swan, while Hyland has maintained a wholesome image starring in Disney movies and the cult classic TV show, Modern Family.
5 Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Javier Bardem
If you ever wondered how “Denny” from Grey’s Anatomy suddenly got a dramatic gig playing one of the greatest villains in cinema history, Anton Chigurh – you’re not alone. In fact, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Denny) couldn't be more different than the Spanish born Bardem. Here’s another ringer to throw into the mix: Does anyone else spot the resemblance with Robert Downey Jr.?
4 Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg
Both having made names for themselves playing more “awkward,” offbeat roles, these names are, understandably, often mixed up. For future reference, Cera is the lovably dork who led Superbad to cult success, and Eisenberg played an impeccably smug version of Mark Zuckerberg in the Academy Award winning The Social Network. Actor, comedian and 'The Lonely Island' member, Andy Samberg, is another humorous American we often confuse with one or other of these actors.
3 Willem Dafoe and Denis Leary
You’d think after both spending decades in the business, these two veteran actors wouldn’t have to deal with celebrity mix-ups. However, Leary tells a different tale: On a scouting trip to a strip club for his hit drama Rescue Me, Leary says he was allowed inside for free simply because the bouncer thought he was “the guy from Spiderman.” Hey, if that’s your biggest problem, life ain’t too bad.
2 Chad Smith and Will Ferrell
This odd duo very famously acknowledged their uncanny resemblance after Ferrell exclaimed that they were actually the same person – or rather, that Chad Smith was a Will Ferrell character – on Reddit. Not long after, the lookalikes appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show in a drum-off – and history was made.
1 Zoe Saldana and Thandie Newton
Even after appearing in massive blockbuster hits, including Avatar, Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean, and a slew of other critically acclaimed films, Zoe Saldana is still confused with other celebrities. In addition to Crash and Pursuit of Happyness star Thandie Newton, Saldana also reports often being confused with Scandal star Kerry Washington. “It humbles you,” she laughs.