Who ever dreamed about having an identical twin brother? Although it sounds especially fun when you are a child, it can be useful even when you are an adult. What about sending your twin to your work, for example? It might sound odd, but in show business, it can happen more often than you think.
The Olsen Twins became worldwide when they played Michelle Tanner on the TV show Full House during eight seasons. They were still toddlers when they were introduced to the audience and it didn’t take long for the sisters to become a phenomenon in the U.S. and they starred in dozens of movies until they were teenagers. More than 25 years later, they are still arguably the most famous twins in show biz.
However, they were not the first or the last set of twins that shared the same role on television and in movies. It is relatively common to cast twins when the role is for a baby or small child, due to labor laws, but having an identical twin can be a great asset for any actor.
In the past, casting twins could be a handy solution for producers when they didn’t have special effects technology to shoot some scenes. For Laverne Cox, having a twin brother was the perfect option to tell the pre-transition phase of her character in Orange Is The New Black.
In fact, there are many times that a role was played by twins and the audience didn’t even notice. Here are a few of them.
15 Sophia and Marcus - Orange Is The New Black
Sophia Burset, played by Laverne Cox, is one of the best parts on Orange Is The New Black. Thanks to the role of the transgender inmate, Laverne has been nominated for several awards, including for Best Supporting Actress at the Emmys.
However, another Cox also caught our attention on the Netflix show. The third episode of the first season, “Lesbian Request Denied” was focused on Sophia before her transition and viewers learned how she ended up in prison. Before she became Sophia, Burset was a married fireman named Marcus.
What most viewers don’t know is that Marcus wasn’t played by Laverne, but by her identical twin brother M. Lamar. At first, Laverne wanted to play the pre-transition Sophie, but the directors wanted to hire an actor. When they heard that Cox had an identical twin brother, he was invited to audition. M. Lamar is a musician and had no acting experience when he was chosen to play the role. He did so well, most people didn’t notice it was another person playing Sophie/Marcus.
14 Claire Kincaid – Law & Order
If you are a Law & Order fan, you might remember Claire Kincaid, an Assistant District Attorney. The character appears in 69 episodes, between 1993 and 1996, and it was played by Jill Hennessy - in all episodes, but one.
Hennessy’s schedule on Law & Order became extremely busy and while she was in Baltimore, filming the “Homicide: Life on the Street” episode, the producers needed her to play courtroom scenes in New York at the same time. Although it would be impossible to be in both spots at the same time, Jill came up with a creative solution: she had a twin sister who could shoot the scenes for her. The producers, of course, loved the idea and Jaqueline Hennessy appeared in the season 6 episode that was broadcasted a few weeks later.
That wasn’t the only time Jaqueline and Jill worked together. In the movie Dead Ringers, they played twin escorts and Jaqueline also sang on Jill’s album.
13 Sarah Connor – Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Sarah Connors in the most remarkable role played by Linda Hamilton. However, she was not the only one to play the character. In the movie Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), there is a scene in a factory where T-100 is disguised as Sarah and both (the real Sarah and the imposter), meet. Most viewers thought it was just another special effect, but the shoot was very simple: James Cameron used Linda’s twin sister, Leslie Hamilton, in the scene.
This is the only scene the sisters appear together on screen and it only lasts a few seconds. While Leslie is playing Sarah Connors, her sister is the T-100 robot. Leslie also has other few moments in the movie, when Sarah is watching children at the playground and the CPU reprogramming scene in the mirror.
Although Leslie didn’t pursue an acting career ( she is currently a nurse), she played the part so well viewers didn’t notice the difference.
12 Dan and Don Stanton - Terminator
Linda Hamilton wasn’t the only one to bring her twin sister onto the set. Since T-1000 was able to copy the image of anyone he wanted, having actors with twin siblings were a very useful trick used by James Cameron.
Before Sarah Connor, T-100 also copies the image of Lewis, a security guard. The iconic scene was played by the twins Dan and Don Stanton. T-100 catches Lewis by surprise and he is shocked to see his twin in front of him. The short scene doesn’t have a happy ending and T-1000 easily kills the speechless security guard.
It wasn’t the first time viewers could see the Stanton twins in a movie. They play genetic scientists in Gremlins 2 (1990) and in Good Morning Vietnam (1987). And this time, they don’t kill each other.
11 Julian - Big Daddy
If you ever paid attention to Big Daddy’s credits, you would have noticed that Julian is played not by one, but by two actors: Dylan and Cole Sprouse. The 1999 movie revolves around Sonny Koufax (Adam Sandler), an immature 32-year-old bachelor, who suddenly becomes responsible for Julian, his roommate's son.
Both actors used to argue about who had more scenes in their movies. In later interviews, the twins revealed that fans could frequently spot differences between them in the movie, especially because of Dylan’s freckles and Cole’s mole. They also said that Dylan had two missing teeth when shooting the movie, while Cole had four.
The twins appeared many times together on screen. Their career started when they were eight months old in a diaper commercial. The worldwide fame came when they starred in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, on Disney Channel.
10 Little Ricky - I Love Lucy
Although Keith Thibodeaux is often remembered as the actor who played Little Ricky on I Love Lucy, he only entered the show in the sixth season, in 1951. However, Little Ricky was introduced to the audience in season two.
The character was introduced in the show because Lucille Ball got pregnant, so the producers decided that Lucy and Desi Arnaz would also welcome a child on the screen. The parents didn’t want their baby on stage and the show started looking for a set of twins to play Little Ricky. Choosing twins to alternate one role is a common choice when it comes to child actors because child labor laws are very strict and there is a limit of hours a child can work in show business.
Arnaz chose Joe and Mike Mayer after seeing a picture of them. The first time the public saw the twins on screen was in the episode “No Children Allowed,” in 1953. They remained on the show for three seasons when they were replaced by Thibodeaux.
9 Court - The Man In The Moon
In this movie, the sisters Dani (played by a young Reese Witherspoon) and Maureen Trant are very close, until they both fall in love with Court Foster (Jason London) and their relationship is shaken. However, if only the sisters knew Court had a twin brother, they would have avoided a lot of trouble!
Jason got the part after his twin brother, Jeremy, convinced him to drive him to the test. At the last minute, Jason auditioned too and got the Court Foster role, but Jeremy was also part of the movie. While Jason played him for the most dramatic parts, his twin brother worked as his double and took the dangerous scenes.
Jeremy and Jason also auditioned for a role in I’ll Fly Away. Once again, Jason was chosen but decided against the film, and Jeremy took his place. Jeremy got roles in 7th Heaven and Party of Five, but his career was troubled due to his drug issues. Jason got roles in movies like Carrie 2.
8 Tommy Fuller Jr. - Fuller House
The original Full House introduced the Olsen twins to the world and they are probably the most famous twins in show business, so it’s no surprise that Fuller House, which brings together the characters from the original show and shows their lives two decades later, also features twins on the set. Fox and Dashiell Messitt share the role of Tommy Fuller, DJ’s youngest son.
“When they started at seven months old, they didn’t even know how to crawl. And in the process of doing the show, they started crawling and started walking. So [there were] a lot of milestones while they were working," said their mother, Kacy Andrews
The mother is a former producer and is aware that twins have way more chances to get roles at their age, so Kacy and her husband started looking for opportunities. The money will help the parents pay for their sons' college tuition one day.
7 Carrie Ingalls - Little House on the Prairie
Little House On Prairie was an American western drama that was on TV from 1974 to 1983. The story centered around a family who lived on a farm in Minnesota. Among the characters was Carrie Ingalls, played by the twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush.
The twins didn’t need to chase the part: a producer saw them in a commercial on television and thought they would be a good fit on the show. And they were right since the girls acted on the show during its whole 8 seasons.
“Sidney and I had done both commercials and a movie of the week called Sunshine with Cliff De Young. Michael Landon saw it and asked us to interview for Little House,” said Lindsay.
Although it wasn’t a secret, the viewers were led to believe Carrie was played by just one actress, since the credits on the show listed them as Lindsay Sidney Greenbush.
6 Xander – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Alexander Lavelle ( Xander) was a friend of Buffy's and was responsible for the more comical scenes on the show. He was played by Nicholas Brendon from 1997 to 2003, but he wasn’t alone. His twin brother, Kelly Donovan, would often stunt double for his brother.
Both appear together in the third episode of season five, “The Replacement,” where Xander is attacked by a demon and a double version of him is created. This new version is much more ambitious and confident. Both actors enjoyed the experience of working with each other.
However, this was the last project they worked on together. Both are still in show business but followed different paths. Nicholas got a role on Criminal Minds, while Kelly became a set designer. Brendon had serious struggles with alcohol and in 2015 he was found guilty for choking his ex-girlfriend in 2015.
5 Agent Training Scene - The Matrix
Every time you watch The Matrix you might discover something new. Next time, you'll probably notice all the twin siblings among the extras. The classic sci-fi movie from 1999 is well known for using jaw-dropping special effects and its considered one of the best movies of all times. And no, Keanu Reeves doesn’t have a twin brother who also appeared in the movie. However, the movie used several sets of identical twins that most viewers probably didn’t even notice.
Take a close look at the scene where Neo walks in a street full of people, and it’s possible to notice that the faces are very similar. The director chose to cast several twin siblings as extras and put them on the set.
"We had the idea that Mouse just doubled people instead of making originals. But we couldn't afford to do it digitally, so we ended up hiring as many doubles, or as many twins, as we could find in Sydney,” said the Wachowskis, who directed the movie.
4 Ticket Girl - The Twilight Zone
In the episode "A Passage for Trumpet," Jack Klugman is an alcoholic trumpet player who is struggling to find a job in New York. At some point, the musician realizes that he is literally invisible. The moment Klugman realizes that is when he tries to talk to a ticket girl, who doesn’t seem to notice his presence, and when he looks in a mirror near her, it reflects the girl, but not him.
The scene might look simple for viewers today, but in 1960, digital effects and CGI were not options on the table. Producers had to be creative in those situations and that is definitely the case in that Twilight Zone episode.
The solution they found was to build a mirror-image set on the other side of the frame and hired twins to play the ticket girl. The impact caused by the scene can’t be ignored even without special effects.
3 Emma Geller-Green - Friends
The popular TV show Friends welcomed Emma Geller-Green in the middle of season 9. The girl was the baby daughter of Ross and Rachel, who had an on and off relationship during the whole series. Emma was played by the twins Noelle and Cali Sheldon.
“Everyone was really, really nice to Noelle and Cali, and treated them like little princesses on the set,” said their mother, Gretchen Carpenter. The twins are now 14 years old and, of course, don’t have memories of the time they played Jennifer Aniston’s daughter. "I don't remember anything about being on the show, but I've seen the pictures," said Cali.
Although they don’t remember it, the girls agree that being part of Friends is a big deal and that having Aniston as a mother is pretty cool. "A lot of people in our school watch it, and most of them know we were in it, so they think that's pretty cool,” said Noelle.
2 Harry Potter - Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone
For those who consider themselves Harry Potter fans, this information might come as a surprise.
Like we mentioned, it is common that, when using babies on set, producers cast a set of twins. Not only does this double the amount of time you have to shoot with the child, but the choice can also be handy since you can’t really control the mood of a baby; it is always smart to have another option in case the baby is too moody or needs to take a nap.
However, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, producers took it to another level and instead of casting twins, they thought, why not go for triplets? The first movie, based on the J.K. Rowling book, used triplets ( two boys and a girl), for the scenes where Harry is a baby.
They were credit as “Saunders triplets” in the movie and their real names remain unknown.
1 Abel Teller - Sons of Anarchy
“So is that why my grandma killed my other mommy so my first mommy could be here with me?" This heartbreaking sentence was said by Abel Teller on Sons of Anarchy. The character is the son of Ajax and Wendy Case and he faces countless difficult situations in the series.
It’s obviously a sensitive role for a small child and this burden was shared by the identical twins Evan and Ryder Lodo during four seasons. Ryder was responsible for playing the most dramatic and sensitive scenes, while Evan was mostly involved in action scenes.
According to their father, the plot of Sons of Anarchy never affected his children in a negative way and he used to tell the children to pretend it was Halloween, so they could understand that everything was just pretend.
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