How Hollywood has produced twins scenes for a century

Originally published at: How Hollywood has produced twins scenes for a century | Boing Boing


The current one to top is Orphan Black, though with clones not twins. Several on screen at once, interacting and in relative motion. It helps to have an incredibly versatile actor playing all the parts.


Every-time one hears of all the onerous editing of producing movie “twins” always mumble/wondered: “Why the hell didn’t they just cast (real) twins!?”


I admire James Cameron’s use of practical effects in this regard for Terminator 2. Even though it was probably the most advanced special effects movie of its time Cameron used identical twins for at least two scenes instead of trying to use a high-tech workaround.

In this scene where the T-1000 takes on the form of a security guard:


And in this scene where Linda Hamilton’s character is seen in a mirror:


Also in the climax. Screen Shot 2021-02-13 at 2.04.25 PM


Somehow I always forget that Linda Hamilton is a twin…


I heard someone remark recently that it seemed like they knew a lot of twins in elementary school but rarely seem to meet them as an adult. To which I say “that’s probably because most of us don’t hang around our twin siblings all the time, so when you do meet one of us you have no idea we have a doppelgänger out there unless it comes up in conversation.”


I was waiting for that video to mention the best way to film a “twin sequence” which is to ACTUALLY USE A TWIN


Well it kind of loses the point if you only use one.


What, you mean you and OtherBrother aren’t glued together at the hip?


Use just one twin, then employ all the Hollywood FX techniques while the other twin watches the filming and critiques their twin’s performance.


Not since the operation.



Once in middle school my brother used a double-exposure photo composite in the (pre-digital era) photo lab class to make a print where he appeared to be standing beside himself. When he showed it off most people just assumed it was a regular shot of the two of us.


In reality, a lot of twins don’t actually look all that much like each other, certainly not close enough for Hollywood purposes (either because the “twins” in the fictions are actually some sort of doppelgangers/clones, or because Hollywood wants their twins to look completely identical). The irony is that real twins mostly aren’t “twin-like” enough for movies.

Not to mention, how many twins there are out there where both ended up actors? (I can’t think of that many… there are some lists, but they’re obviously incomplete and have almost no names in them, and I recognize almost none of the names. There are also cases were both are actors, but only one is a recognizable name, weirdly.) Your casting options are going to be extremely limited. That’s fine if it’s a bit part where the only thing that’s important is they’re twins, but otherwise… good luck casting a specific part, much less a whole family, as with “Us.” If only one of the twins is an actor, you’re using the other as a stand-in, and they’re mostly still going to have to be replaced with the same techniques. Just like with any other body double, in every scene in which, you know, they’re actually acting.

And it’s notable that one was a tiny part, and the other was just dumb luck that Linda Hamilton had a twin. And Cameron still had to use the twins carefully (and quite sparingly) to avoid revealing they weren’t completely identical.

I’m also reminded of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” episode where a (not-exactly) “evil twin” story made use of an actual identical twin, at least for the shots where they were both in frame:

Gosh, it’s almost as if when kids, you’ll be together all the time, in the same home and in school in the same class as your twin, and as adults… you won’t be (or even necessarily in the same city).

Also, I have to say, I’ve met twins without realizing they even were twins, knowing only that they were siblings; people can only get more dissimilar with age, due to lived experiences.



Of course in real life a clone would probably have less resemblance to their genetic donor than a pair of identical twins would have to each other because most twins grow up having similar life experiences/nutrition/mitochondrial DNA etc.


Why don’t they just cast identical cousins like they did in the Patty Duke show?


Sounds like someone’s trying hard to cover up the fact that there is a twin-killer on the loose. Now why would that be?

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And if you don’t have a twin, there are ways around that problem.

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