Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Actors Who Have Pulled Double Duty

As much as I didn’t enjoy watching Jack and Jill the other day, I do have to hand it to Adam Sandler. He did a decent job pulling double duty --- playing two different characters in the same film.

Obviously it was Sandler playing both Jack and Jill, but he did a good enough job using different mannerisms, facial expressions and voices that it almost seemed like two characters weren’t both played by Sandler.

I’m no actor. I’ve never played two characters on the same stage or in the same movie, but I imagine doing so would be fairly difficult.

Several actors and actresses have pulled double duty over the years, successfully playing two separate characters and making them seem different. Here’s some of the more memorable performances:

Who can forget Mike Myers playing Austin Powers and Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies? This is one case of double duty that isn’t as evident.

I watched the movies when I was younger and didn’t realize it was Mike Myers acting out both characters until sometime after the second movie was released.

Hair and makeup did a great job with Dr. Evil. I’m not sure what the reason was for having Myers play multiple roles, but I’m glad that decision was made. I can’t picture anyone else doing as good a job playing the comically devious Dr. Evil or awkwardly cool Austin Powers.

Back in the 1960s, when Bewitched was airing on television, the writers introduced a new character to the show: Serena. She was Samantha’s wild cousin, always down for a party. Elizabeth Montgomery, who played Samantha, ended up playing Serena too. Maybe it’s because Elizabeth Montgomery was always on the sweeter side when she played Samantha, but it was kind of surprising seeing her play more of a vamp than a housewife. It worked out well though, adding yet another colorful character to the show.

The writers on I Dream of Jeannie may have copied the Samantha/Serena idea with Jeannie’s sister Jeannie. In fact, it’s pretty obvious they did. Jeannie’s sister, Jeannie, had black hair, just like Serena. She, like Serena, usually caused trouble when she showed up. The only differences were that she was a sister, not a cousin, and her name was Jeannie, not Serena.

Nonetheless, Barbara Eden did a great job playing both roles at the same time. Jeannie (the one in pink) was always sweet, innocent and wide-eyed. Eden changed her mannerisms completely when she played Jeannie (the evil sister in green). She waved her arms, sashayed from side-to-side when she walked, always had a hint of trouble in her eyes and talked with some kind of knock-off English accent.

Before Barbara Eden played both Jeannies and Elizabeth Montgomery was pulling double duty on Bewitched with Samantha and Serena, a younger blonde bombshell was sinking her teeth into two roles as well. In 1961, Disney’s The Parent Trap was released.

It was the story of two twins who were determined to reunite their divorced parents. The teenage actress who played Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers was Hayley Mills. Just like in Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, the writers made sure to give the characters distinguishable differences. Sharon had longer hair and a Boston accent. Susan had short hair and, although she didn’t have an accent, her California roots were evident in the portrayal. Eventually Sharon cut her hair and dropped the Boston accent in order to trade places with Susan, giving . Mills went on to play both characters again in The Parent Trap 2, which wasn’t anywhere near as amazing as it’s predecessor.

Remember when Lindsay Lohan was known for her performance in The Parent Trap remake and not for her run-ins with the law? The writers made some updates to the plot, but, overall, kept the 1998 version the same as the 1961 version.

Annie James and Hallie Parker met at camp, where they realized they were twins and then pulled the switcharoo. Just like in the original Parent Trap, Lohan played both characters. Annie had a British accent this time around, while Hallie Parker was from California.

I just went to see G.I. Joe: Retaliation in the cheap theatre again and I’m still amazed at Jonathan Pryce’s performance as Zartan and the President of the United States. Both characters appeared on screen several times, but it was never confusing as to who was who. Pryce really did give to totally different performances for the two roles.

His tone of voice and facial expressions were completely different when playing Zartan. He seemed evil. Meanwhile, when he was The President, he seemed like a likable leader, showing bravery, despite being held captive by terrorists. Pryce wasn't an actor I'd seen much of before G.I. Joe, so his awesome performance was a nice surprise.

Related Content:
Jack and Jill - reviewed.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation - reviewed.
Man of Steel – reviewed.
Star Trek: Into Darkness - reviewed.