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Top 10 Actors Who Played Multiple Roles in Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Craig Butler. Creating one memorable character in a film is hard work; hats off to those guys who create two or more in one film. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Actors Playing Multiple Roles in Movies. For this list, we’re considering movies in which one actor played more than one role. And, just so you know, a SPOILER ALERT may be in order. Special thanks to our users Norris Vaughn and Brennan Young for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Craig Butler.

Top 10 Actors Playing Multiple Roles in Movies


Creating one memorable character in a film is hard work; hats off to those guys who create two or more in one film. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Actors Playing Multiple Roles in Movies.

For this list, we’re considering movies in which one actor played more than one role. However, we’re excluding movies like “Tootsie” or “Mrs. Doubtfire,” because technically, these actors are just playing one role; that role just happens involve dressing up as someone else. But underneath it all, they’re still them. And, just so you know, a SPOILER ALERT may be in order. Well, that is, if you understood “The Prestige”…

#10: Hugh Jackman
“The Prestige” (2006)

For whatever reason, most multiple role performances are found in comedies; Hugh Jackman therefore deserves special credit for duplicating the gimmick’s success in a drama. Jackman portrays a talented magician driven by fierce competition, both personal and professional, with his rival, played by Christian Bale – who may or may not also play multiple roles. Along the way, his anger, ambition and determination to be the more impressive act leads him down a dark path. While these qualities are hinted at when he turns up later as a titled lord, they are made even more evident when we find out about the clones and murders involved with his so-called “death defying” trick.

#9: Alec Guinness
“Kind Hearts and Coronets” (1949)

Actors dream of the kind of showcase that “Kind Hearts and Coronets” provided Alec Guinness – but it takes a true dream of an actor to pull it off. Guinness does so, dazzling viewers with his impeccably delivered performances. Each of the eight characters he assays is indelibly drawn, even when they have scant screen time. The nuances, the gestures and the telling traits with which Guinness imbues his characters comprise a master class in cinema acting – and in peerless comedic skill.

#8: Tyler Perry
“Madea” franchise (2005-)

Tyler Perry created an unforgettable character in Madea Simmons: a tough, awesomely vindictive and hilariously opinionated woman who creates a riot whenever she appears on the screen. The indelible Madea would be achievement enough, but Perry didn’t stop there. He also portrays Madea’s brother Joe, a crazy and ornery old man who always has an insult handy, and her nephew Brian, who attempts to bring a little sanity into the chaotic world of Madea. Perry manages to make these three disparate characters seem like part of the same dysfunctional family in the film series.

#7: Michael J. Fox
“Back to the Future” franchise (1985-90)

Time travel does weird things to people – and when you’re an actor, it often lets you play your own ancestors and descendants. Though the first film doesn’t feature multiple roles; in the “Back to the Future” sequels, Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly comes into contact with his great-great-grandfather and his future son and daughter, as well as an older version of himself – and audiences ate it up. Fox handles the job with the ease and comic slickness that define his best work: with a few deft touches, he tells the audience all they need to know about these characters.

#6: John Cleese
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975)

Members of the Monty Python comedy troupe excel at multiple roles, but John Cleese goes above and beyond in his characterizations in this comedy classic. His gallant Lancelot is stalwart and slightly lunk-headed; his French soldier is eccentrically bizarre; his Black Knight is the epitome of stubborn foolishness; and no wizard at Hogwarts was ever so impressive as his Enchanter revealing his name. They’re all unmistakably John Cleese, but also strikingly individual – and most of all, they’re unbearably funny.

#5: Mel Brooks
“Spaceballs” (1987)

Silliness, hilarity, crudeness and zaniness in more or less equal parts – that’s what defines a good Mel Brooks movie. That’s also what defines Brooks’ own performances in “Spaceballs.” As Skroob, the President of a planet that has exhausted its own atmosphere, he’s a typical Brooksian character – full of vaudeville shtick played straight. The same could be said of his other character Yogurt – but there, Brooks gets to layer in a bit more tenderness beneath the anything-for-a-laugh façade.

#4: Charlie Chaplin
“The Great Dictator” (1940)

Charlie Chaplin is known for primarily playing one character: the Little Tramp. But the immortal Chaplin served double duty in his classic satire “The Great Dictator.” One character, known only as the Barber, is in the Little Tramp tradition. The other, based on Adolf Hitler, is a totally separate piece of comedic brilliance. Both characters evoke gales of laughter, but the tone is distinctly different: one laughs with the Jewish barber and at the Dictator – demonstrating that laughter can be a dangerous weapon against tyrants.

#3: Mike Myers
“Austin Powers” franchise (1997-2002)

The box office failure of “So I Married an Axe Murderer” fortunately didn’t deter Mike Myers from attempting multiple roles again; otherwise, the world would have been bereft of Austin Powers and Dr. Evil. And that would mean no “shagalicious,” no Dr. Evil air quotes or pinky moves or Mini-Me. Powers and Evil have become iconic pop culture characters, and their over-the-top personas are a tribute to Myers when he’s got all his mojo.

#2: Eddie Murphy
“The Nutty Professor” franchise (1996-2000)

From “Coming to America” to “Bowfinger” and “Norbit,” Eddie Murphy has made a habit of playing multiple roles in many of his movies, but he really shines in “The Nutty Professor” films. Jerry Lewis may’ve created 3 characters in the 1963 original, but Murphy throws himself into 7 different roles for the first film. Sure, the main ones are the kind-hearted Professor Klump and the sleek and sexy Buddy Love – but his ability really shines through when he takes on the other members of the Klump family, with devastatingly fun results.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Lindsay Lohan
“The Parent Trap” (1998)
- Leonardo DiCaprio
“The Man in the Iron Mask” (1998)
- Main Cast
“Cloud Atlas” (2012)
- Michael Parks
“Kill Bill” (2003-04)
- Michael Cera
“Youth in Revolt” (2009)

#1: Peter Sellers
“Dr. Strangelove” (1964)

The comic genius that was Peter Sellers created enduring multiple roles in “The Mouse That Roared,” but it was his amazing triple turn in “Dr. Strangelove” that lands him at the top of this list. Stanley Kubrick’s black farce was a high-wire act that required absolutely pitch perfect tone in order to succeed; Sellers manages to achieve that while turning in three wildly different performances. From the stiffly British Capt. Mandrake to the soft-spoken and bewildered U.S. President to the demented and slapstick-inspired Dr. Strangelove, Sellers’ work is the definition of chameleonic – and simply can’t be equaled.

Do you agree with our list? What other actors who played multiple roles are your favorite? For more enthralling top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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