Actors who’ve played more than one role in the same TV show
From 'Orphan Black' to 'Jane the Virgin,' these multi-role actors are experts at giving audiences a double take.
For actors tasked with portraying the same character for years on a hit television series, the opportunity to shake things up with the scripted reveal of a twin or evil alter ego is usually too good to pass up. In more extreme cases, the show's entire premise is set up around one actor playing multiple characters, a fine balancing-act that's as much art as entertainment.
Below are just a handful of performances from actors who have embraced the other side of the coin and given viewers new reasons to cheer or sneer in their direction.
Yael Grobglas on 'Jane the Virgin'
Ever wonder what life would be like with a twin who was the complete opposite of your personality in every way? Petra Solana, played by Israeli actress Yael Grobglas on the CW's comedy-drama "Jane the Virgin," discovered this firsthand after it was revealed she was separated at birth from her identical twin. Whereas Petra is blonde, cold and polished, her twin Anezka is brunette, warm-hearted and easygoing.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Grobglas says the opportunity to play another version of her character was a dream come true. "It's a chance to do something so completely different and show different things that I enjoy doing that maybe wouldn't come out as Petra," she shared. "There was a lot of physical comedy, which I love, so for me, it's been an absolute blast."
In addition to crafting a different voice and body language for Anezka, Grobglas says she also instilled her with character traits from present and former feline companions. "She's actually – a little secret – she's based on a few of my cats. That's what I drew inspiration from: different character traits from different cats I've had," said the actress, who grew up in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv.
Tatiana Masley on 'Orphan Black'
If pulling off multiple characters in the same series can be considered an art, Canadian actress Tatiana Masley is our own modern-day Michelangelo. The star of the hit science fiction drama "Orphan Black," Tatiana plays a character who discovers she's one of several genetically identical clones. As a result, the actress has had to take on the challenge of shape-shifting into an astounding 11 different characters over the course of the series' four-season run.
"Of course it’s a lot of work, but it’s always fun to introduce somebody new," Masley told Time magazine last year. "That’s why I took the job! I love character work. I love exploring that stuff. I’m always thrilled. Daunted, but super thrilled."
In addition to the personalities and looks of the various clones, Tatiana has also had to adopt their various accents. Working with a dialect coach, she's carried the vocal nuances of women from Ukraine, the United States and Great Britain. "I really like the Ukrainian one," she told GQ. "It’s not that we’re necessarily being super true to how somebody actually sounds. We have fun with it."
Tobias Menzies on 'Outlander'
Starz's ambitious adaptation of American author Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series is heavy on the time travel, whiskey and violent encounters between Highlanders and British Redcoats. It also features a remarkable dual performance by British actor Tobias Menzies, who single-handedly plays both Frank Randall, a devoted husband from 1945, and his ancestor Captain Jack Randall, a malicious devil from 1743.
The Jekyll and Hyde nature of Menzies' portrayal is so good, you'll find yourself both rooting for and against him all in the same episode.
"I didn’t want to make it too underlined," Menzies told The Hollywood Reporter of differentiating the roles. "I wanted to have confidence in the story and the costuming and the setting. I wanted to try and have a different look entirely, rather than just different facial hair and voice – for it to be uncanny. It’s sort of the same face, but there is a different spirit in there."
Based on fan reactions from the first season, Menzies says his balance between good and evil is clearly striking a chord. “I’m glad they hate him so much,” he said, laughing.
Lynda Carter on 'Wonder Woman'
Before Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress and former law student, took on the role of Wonder Woman in the DC Comics film franchise, many fans associated the character with American actress Lynda Carter. During the late 1970s, Carter's "Wonder Woman" television series brought the comic book heroine to life, lasting three seasons and transforming the former Miss World USA into a star.
As one would expect, the "Wonder Woman" series featured plenty of dastardly villains, including one who built an evil robotic double of the superhero. In the episode "The Deadly Toys," Carter portrayed both the real and android superhero, culminating in an epic fight between the two.
"She’s not your average superhero," Carter said in 2013. "It’s not so much about her super powers as it is about her ethic. I always thought of her as a figure who stands for what’s right. We all know what’s wrong with the world today, so maybe we need her right now."
Alyson Hannigan on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
While filmmaker Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series is rife with dual role performances (BuffyBot, evil Angel, etc.), we'll hand our favorite to American actress Alyson Hannigan's deliciously cruel vampire Willow.
The episode titled "Doppelgangland" revolves around a summoning spell gone wrong that brings forth a vampire Willow from another dimension. The hilarious plot gave Hannigan an opportunity to shed her generally sweet, demure Willow in favor of an undead version with bite.
According to Whedon, he was inspired to write an episode just for Hannigan after enjoying her initial performance as the vampire Willow in an earlier episode. "Because one Willow is certainly not enough," he told USA Today in 2003. Fans agreed, turning the episode at the time into one of the most-watched in the WB network's history. Fifteen years on, "Doppelgangland" still consistently ranks in Top 10 lists from the series' seven-season run.
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