Five films with a case of mistake identity or similar
Out soon, Enemy sees Jake Gyllenhaal starring as a man on the hunt for his doppelgänger. TOAD revisits some of the most memorable doubles in cinematic history.
The invisible Winklevoss twin Ever noticed something creepy about the Winklevoss twins, two of The Social Network’s villainous figures? Something even creepier than their money-hungry, monopolising personalities? Whenever they’re on screen, one of them isn’t actually there. Thanks to director David Fincher’s crew of CGI experts, Armie Hammer – who went on to star in last year’s The Lone Ranger – was duplicated. The team created a virtual twin in each shot by superimposing Hammer’s face on to actor Josh Pence’s body. The on-screen result is seamless. While it must be slightly annoying for body double Pence that he was in one of 2010’s most critically acclaimed films, yet his face was never seen, it’s a feat that neatly reinforces the (literally) duplicitous nature of not just the Winklevoss twins, but every character that slithers through this story of backstabbing and dollar bills.
Charlie and Donald Kaufman Donald Kaufman is one of a select number of people who are featured in the credits of a movie, but who also happen to be entirely fictitious. The matter of not actually existing didn’t stop him from being Oscar-nominated at the 2003 Academy Awards for Adaptation, alongside his brother Charlie Kaufman, in which they both star. Of course, they’re played by Nicolas Cage, and Donald Kaufman is the identical twin brother Charlie never had. He was invented to hold a mirror to Charlie’s struggling screenwriter character, the plotline centring on his anxieties about achieving artistic integrity versus the reality of becoming a Hollywood hack. Director Spike Jonze makes it work, and brilliantly so: Cage’s twitchy, sweaty portrayal of two bickering brothers – achieved with pre-The Social Network green-screenery – provides the right balance of dichotomy and delusion that’s at Adaptation’s heart.
McFly and son Everything about Back to the Future Part II is built over, under and sometimes straight through its predecessor. Its plot shifts temporally back and forth around major events from the 1985 original, and one moment in particular provides a pivotal scene. Marty McFly (Michael J Fox), upon entering a familiar-looking diner in the year 2015 (anyone else notice we don’t have hoverboards yet?), encounters his son Marty McFly Jr, who proves to be almost as useless as sticking up for himself against bullies as his own father was in the original. Swapping with his son – an eerily identical-looking, baggy-sleeved and stooped version of himself – by donning his multi-coloured, ‘futuristic’ cap, he stands against the assailants who have followed him into the diner, getting his son out of trouble while preserving his dignity – that is, of course, until a fight breaks out anyway. It’s interesting to wonder how different this movie would have been if Marty’s own father, George McFly, was included in the story. Crispin Glover, who played him in the first movie, didn’t return for the sequels because of financial disputes.
Judy Barton and Madeleine Elster Perhaps cinema’s greatest tale of obsession, Alfred Hitchcock’s universally critiqued Vertigo bombed when it was released in 1958. Reception has decidedly improved over the years, with Vertigo consistently ranking second in Sight & Sound’s once-a-decade poll of the best films of all time – before finally topping it in 2012. It would take a true cynic not to allow themself to become lost in the film’s psychological labyrinths, and to not revel in James Stewart’s anti-typecasting as Scottie Ferguson, a man reaching critical mass in his desperation to reconnect with his recently deceased love, Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak). When he chances upon Judy, a girl who bears an uncanny resemblance to Madeleine, he suggests she dress just like her, wear the same make-up, and so on. The striking similarity once the gradual transformation is complete is wish-fulfilment at its purest and most deranged. As Scottie soon finds out, however, he should’ve been careful what he wished for.
Sam Bell The year of 2009 brought us fresh talent in the field of science-fiction: Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie, made a name for himself with his independent picture Moon, starring Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell, the lone employee of a lunar station, and Kevin Spacey as the voice of his computerised operating system. Sam Bell’s days and nights seem endless in his moon-bound existence as he waits out the length of his three-year contract. One day, he stumbles on something he wasn’t expecting to find: himself. This doppelgänger also claims to be Sam Bell, raising a handful of rather important questions – the chief of which being, ‘Who is the real Sam?’ Either way, it soon becomes clear he was never meant to make his ugly discovery, or leave the base in the first place. Jones’s achievement here is in unravelling a dense plot with both clarity and an air of tangible mystery, combining the chilly disconnect of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the psychological richness of Solaris.