Horror is one of the few genres in which an actor can not only play against type, but also play multiple roles without feeling out of place. Whether it's a down-and-dirty slasher or something more experimental, horror films allow actors to explore entirely new sides of themselves, and if they're playing a dual role, they're able to go places they might never be able to in a straightforward drama.
Vote up your favorites of the following double roles.
- Photo: Film Limited123 VOTES
Blood Rage is one of the few slashers to take place on the most emotionally draining of holidays: Thanksgiving. It stars Mark Soper as Todd and Terry, twin brothers who committed an ax murder when they were little boys. Terry frames Todd, who is then sent away to a mental institution for the next decade.
Ten years later, Todd gets out of the institution and is ready to set the record straight; meanwhile, Terry is prepping to murder everyone at his mother's Thanksgiving celebration. Soper uses a variety of mannerisms to show the difference between the two brothers, but the important thing to remember is that the evil twin is the one carrying around a giant bloody machete.
- Photo: Columbia Pictures287 VOTES
At the heart of Bram Stoker's Dracula is the immortal love story between Dracula and his wife Elisabeta, who died by suicide following reports of the Count's death. Winona Ryder brought the film's script to director Francis Ford Coppola, and the roles of Mina and Elisabeta were ultimately melded into one cohesive character.
Ryder says the thing that drew her to the script was the love story at the center between Dracula and Mina, a reincarnated version of Dracula's beloved Elisabeta. She said:
What attracted me to the script is the fact that it’s a very emotional love story, which is not really what you think of when you think about Dracula. Mina, like many women in the late 1800s, has a lot of repressed sexuality. Everything about women in that era, the way those corsets forced them to move, was indicative of repression. To express passion was freakish.
- 354 VOTES
In The Bride of Frankenstein, Elsa Lanchester plays both Mary Shelley and the eponymous Bride. It's not clear if she was cast in both roles on purpose, but she excels at bringing a completely different energy to each character. It's easy to forget about Lanchester in this film (Shelley and the Bride are at opposite ends of its run time), but she's an absolute powerhouse in both roles.
Lanchester's dual casting doesn't just give the actress more screen time - it also presents a kind of mirror image between Shelley and the creature in the finale. Shelley is all childlike wonder and delight, while the Bride is a monster that can't be controlled and only wants to die. Where Shelley sees possibilities, the Bride sees darkness.
- Photo: A24465 VOTES
Dual roles are always tricky, but playing the killer and the final girl is an especially hard line to walk. In Ti West's X, Mia Goth plays Maxine, a stripper looking to find fame and fortune in the world of adult films. When she and her filmmaking friends head off to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, they're picked off one by one by a jealous elderly woman.
According to West, he always planned to double-cast the character because Maxine and Pearl are two sides of the same coin: Maxine is at the beginning of her adulthood and taking control of her sexuality, while Pearl feels that her talents and vigor were wasted because she was born in the wrong era.
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures557 VOTES
Mars Attacks! is Tim Burton's love letter to 1950s B movies that he dreamed up after directing Ed Wood, his other love letter to B movies. After working on the script, Burton immediately sent it to Jack Nicholson to see if he was interested in playing anyone specific.
While Nicholson went on to play the dual roles of President James Dale and Vegas mega entrepreneur Art Land, the veteran actor initially wanted to play more than two roles - he wanted to play every character. Burton explained:
I remember that at first Jack wanted to create a multi-role tour de force performance. When I asked him which part he wanted to play, he replied, “How 'bout ALL of them?” This is how we developed the two characters for Jack: the one of the President and the one of this decadent Las Vegas mogul trying to set up a new hotel franchise with a Martian theme. There is no better actor to go up against the Martians than Jack. I was very lucky. I enjoy seeing someone who is really strong at what they do and who just goes for it. Jack is willing to do anything, no matter how crazy it seems. He's the greatest and to see him in two parts is amazing.
- Photo: Universal Pictures644 VOTES
No questions asked - Doug Jones is who a director goes to for their weirdo monsters with a soul. As such, it makes sense that Guillermo del Toro called on Jones to play three different parts in Hellboy II.
The actor reprises his role as Abe Sapien (complete with his voice for the first time), the Angel of Death, and Chamberlain, a big goopy monster.
In 2008, Jones explained the process of working with del Toro, especially regarding the process of putting together a new character's nuances quickly:
Just to give you a tidbit, when it was the Chamberlain character of Hellboy II, he - and this is a prime example of all the characters he's ever had me play, but this is a great little story. He met with me at the creature shop when I was doing one of my things for the Chamberlain character, and he said, “Doug, now for the Chamberlain. I'm picturing… I see him as sort of an ewwww!”
That's all he did, a sound effect and a motion with the hands, and instantly, I knew who the Chamberlain was. I knew, and he never directed me again on that character. We were on set, he yelled action. We did the thing. He never gave me tweaks or said, “I want it more like this or more like that,” or gave me - nothing.
So that's the kind of shorthand that we developed - he makes a sound effect and a gesture. I understand it, and on the day, I've worked on my own at home, and I come back ready for it to go.