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Pajiba - JK Simmons Counterpart.jpg

With So Many White Guys Playing Brothers and Twins, Which Actors and Actresses Do We Really Want to See Doubled?

By Roxana Hadadi | Lists | January 19, 2018 |

By Roxana Hadadi | Lists | January 19, 2018 |

Pajiba - JK Simmons Counterpart.jpg

Have you seen the trailer for the new Starz series Counterpart yet? The first episode was made available back in December, but Starz has been trying to build more hype for the show as it basically relaunches this month, and perhaps you would like to watch the trailer. Meet me on the other side.

Here’s what I thought when I first saw this thing: Cool, so we have another white guy playing two versions of himself. (I enjoy Simmons and remain fucked up by his performance in Whiplash, but still.) Doesn’t it feel like we’ve had a lot of these doubled dudes lately? By my estimation, here are the most noteworthy examples of this trend, and you’ll notice the same thing about them all:

• Simmons playing bureaucrat Howard Silk and his double in a parallel dimension in Counterpart.

• Ewan McGregor playing brothers Emmit and Raymond “Ray” Stussy in the most recent third season of Fargo, a performance for which he won a Golden Globe a few weeks ago.

• James Franco playing twin brothers Vincent and Frankie Martino in David Simon’s The Deuce, which has already been renewed for a second season. (Simon recently put out a statement addressing Franco and whether anyone has come forward complaining about his behavior on the set of that HBO show, but Franco himself seems to have disappeared after the Golden Globes, as we’ve discussed here on Pajiba. I wonder why.)

• Tom Hardy played real-life criminal brothers Reggie and Ronnie Kray in the 2015 film Legend, performances that kept him in very good suits as he did monstrous things.

• Jesse Eisenberg got literary (and literal) with it by starring in a 2013 film version of The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, playing opposites Simon James and James Simon in the adaptation helmed by The IT Crowd actor Richard Ayoade.

• Paul Dano somehow did not earn an Oscar nomination for his brothers Paul and Eli Sunday in There Will Be Blood; however, my general feeling is that if you can hold your own against Daniel Day-Lewis, you’ve already won! [Full disclosure: I originally wrote in this piece that Dano did score an Oscar nomination for his role, when in reality he did not, and I will literally carry my bitterness about this slight until the end of time.]

• And of course, Armie Hammer got his first really big break playing the real-life Winklevoss twins Cameron and Tyler alongside Eisenberg in David Fincher’s The Social Network (arguably the first of many chances given to Hammer over the course of his career, as laid out in that-much-discussed Anne Helen Peterson piece).

Other dudes I don’t feel like writing entire blurbs about: Nicolas Cage in the very meta Adaptation; Leonardo DiCaprio in The Man in the Iron Mask; Jeremy Irons in David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers; Michael Keaton as clones in Multiplicity; and Adam Sandler in Jack and Jill, a movie that I will hate myself forever for having to sit through for an assignment.

Where are the women on this list? Or the people of color? Or—whoa, intersectionality!—the women of color? I will honestly tell you that I couldn’t really think of any, which is probably some sort of sign of the prevalence of films about brothers, but the lack of them about sisters, and obviously on a larger scale how many movies get made about men vs. movies about women. All I could come up with were these:

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• Tilda Swinton in Okja, playing terrible twins Lucy and Nancy Mirando of the ruthlessly capitalist Mirando Corporation.

• Natalie Portman in Black Swan, doing the whole normal-good me vs. sexy-evil me thing, well enough to earn her an Oscar for the Darren Aronofsky film.

• Sheryl Lee as the iconic Laura Palmer in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, a role that started with her corpse wrapped up in a plastic bag and continued as she played cousin Maddy Ferguson later in the series and then bounced between characters in Lynch’s companion piece Fire Walk With Me and in last year’s Showtime revival. (I am still wondering: Was that a movie?)

• Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap, charming performances that make me bitterly mutter things like “What a waste” whenever I think about them.

… And, that’s about it! But if I were to let my imagination run free, which actors and actresses would I want to see doubled? Oh, let me think:

• Jason Mitchell, who has already shown phenomenal range in disparate films Straight Outta Compton and Mudbound, one of our best of 2017 films here at Pajiba.

• Zoe Kravitz, who has been an object of cool swagger in so many projects like Dope and Big Little Lies and whom I long to see in a starring vehicle where she can explore other aspects of her acting range besides just “gorgeous and stylishly dressed.”

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• Riz Ahmed, for reasons.

• Sarah Paulson, who has done practically everything Ryan Murphy has ever asked of her and who has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to veer between icy coldness and genuine empathy and warmth.

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• Édgar Ramírez, for reasons.

• Jon Bernthal, the only white guy I am putting in this brainstorming session, because he’s played the tough badass for so long that I want to see him in a romantic comedy where he portrays two gentle dudes trying to woo the same person.

• Steven Yeun, who followed up his terribly handled exit from The Walking Dead with a role in the previously mentioned Okja and who can clearly do not only the good-guy Glenn thing but also the somewhat-goofy-but-committed ecoterrorist thing, two extremes that I think bode well for his ability to shoulder different characters.

Now it’s up to you: What double performances have you seen that you enjoyed and think deserve more recognition? What have I missed? What actors would you want to watch two of? Discuss in the comments!

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Roxana Hadadi is a Senior Editor for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.