“Come play with us, Danny. Forever… and ever… and ever.”
– The Grady Sisters, “The Shining” (1980)
Throughout the years, twins have always made notable appearances in film. They can evoke a laugh, create a mystery, run a chill down your spine, or even just showcase their uncanny ability to look alike. But even if you don’t enjoy seeing double as much as we do, whenever twins are on the big screen, you can be sure of at least one thing – there will be two of them. Putting together the most fitting list we could possibly be assigned, here we examine the Top 10 greatest twins in cinema.
10. Twin Henchmen from Kiss of the Dragon (2001)
Easily Jet Li’s best American movie (which isn’t saying much), “Kiss of the Dragon” features a slew of fight sequences mostly devoid of any wire work or special effects. The most impressive duel pits Li against twin assailants (of considerably different heights) played by Didier Azoulay and Cyril Raffaelli (who are not actually twins – dizygotic or otherwise – but convince of the cellular phenomenon thanks to costuming and styling), the latter of which became most notable for his roles in “District B13” and “Live Free or Die Hard.”
9. Mikhail Suverov and Alain Moreau from Maximum Risk (1996)
What’s more exciting than Jean-Claude Van Damme barreling through crowded streets indiscriminately killing anyone in his way? How about two Jean-Claude Van Dammes! Well, maybe just barely. But while director Ringo Lam’s 1996 action flick may be light on sanity, it’s heavy on extravagant stunts and over-the-top violence. Curiously, less than a year later, Van Damme starred in “Double Team,” which surely would have been a more appropriate title for this one – though let’s not forget that in 1991, he also played twins in the actioner “Double Impact,” followed by dual roles in 1992’s “Universal Soldier.” The man clearly likes to play himself twice. Now if only there were two Natasha Henstridges in all of those…
8. Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman from Adaptation (2002)
What’s better than one Nicolas Cage? Two Nicolas Cages? Well, no, one is enough. But in Charlie Kaufman’s semi-autobiographical “Adaptation,” you get double the Cage as the actor portrays twins through split-screen trickery. The fun doesn’t stop there, however. As the bickering duo wander desperately through a literal and figurative swamp of truth and fiction, they encounter everything from an orchid-thieving con artist and a hackneyed psychological thriller script to Meryl Streep and an angry alligator.
7. Mischka and Grischka from Octopussy (1983)
A James Bond film wouldn’t be complete without some conspicuous henchmen, so who better to throw into the already overly bizarre entry “Octopussy” than a couple of evil, knife-throwing circus twins? Almost (okay, definitely) upstaging main dice-crushing baddie Gobinda, the twins get a suspenseful showdown with Roger Moore in a chase through train compartments, during which 007 steals a matching costume to become a pseudo triplet.
6. The Shobijin (Fairy Twins) from Mothra (1961)
A scientific expedition to Infant Island uncovers 12-inch tall, singing, monozygotic twin girls who control an enormous moth monster. If that doesn’t sound zany enough, throw in vampire plants, telepathy, and a gargantuan bug gestating inside Tokyo Tower. Famed kaiju screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa’s first draft for the film was aptly entitled “The Giant Monster Thing,” and the eventual titular Lepidoptera became so popular that she appeared in her own trilogy of movies – as well as numerous Godzilla sequels.
5. Twin #1 and Twin #2 from The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
While the second two “Matrix” films’ plots devolved into unintelligible mush, the one consistent element that never waned from the series was a flashy, futuristic sense of style. Billowing onyx trench-coats and sunglasses that didn’t come off indoors were staples of the Wachowski siblings’ sci-fi extravaganza. And when the good guys wore black, it was up to the villains to wear white. The dreadlocked “albino twins” dressed in shiny alabaster coats and fought with straight razors while everyone else used machine guns, but somehow it worked. Or maybe it didn’t. Does anyone even know what those last two films were about?
4. Julius Benedict and Vincent Benedict from Twins (1988)
Though the concept was funnier than much of the film, there is an undeniable appeal to watching such polar opposite actors begin at odds before partnering up for a quest to find their mother. The hijinks are predictable, but hulking Arnold Schwarzenegger and diminutive Danny DeVito are in fine comedic form throughout, often elevating otherwise humdrum scenarios. It’s almost a shame that the sequel “Triplets” never came to fruition. Almost.
3. Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa from Star Wars (1977)
Remember when a pouty, angsty Anakin Skywalker had twins with Padme Amidala, forcing her to quickly hide the newborns away from the Dark Jedi? We’re trying to forget the prequel trilogy too. But originally, Luke didn’t discover the truth about Leia until Yoda dropped the bombshell in “Return of the Jedi.” Finding out that Vader was his father definitely overshadowed any other revelation, though realizing that Leia was his twin abruptly simplified the awkward love triangle with Han.
2. Susan Evers and Sharon McKendrick from The Parent Trap (1961)
No, before you ask, most definitely not the Lindsay Lohan movie. The original 1961 “The Parent Trap” continued Hayley Mills’ rise to stardom after the well-received “Pollyanna,” and during her six years working for Disney, she arguably became the most popular child star in America. The film follows two mischievous girls who discover at summer camp that they are, in fact, twins who were separated at birth. The obvious move is to then attempt to reunite their divorced parents (or succumb to a downward spiral of psychological vexation at the thought of having such an important secret kept from them). Despite the extreme popularity of the movie, its two follow-ups weren’t made until more than twenty years later (and relegated to TV), though Mills returned to play a mother in the first sequel and an available woman for the father of triplets in the second sequel.
1. Tom Canty and Prince Edward VI from The Prince and the Pauper (1937)
Long before Haley Mills planned her meddling twin-swapping scheme, Billy and Bobby Mauch got into far severer shenanigans when a prince switched outfits with a criminal’s son in the film adaptation of Mark Twain’s classic story. Though the tale has been brought to the screen on numerous occasions, the 1937 effort is a high point, with Errol Flynn in the role of Miles Hendon and Claude Rains as the villainous Earl of Hertford. A low point would undoubtedly be 1977’s “The Prince and the Pauper” (aka “Crossed Swords”), whose star Mark Lester gave up acting after critics so severely savaged his performance.
And there you have the greatest gemini in film history. So why did the Grady Sisters from “The Shining” not make the list, you ask? Because life’s not fair (also, they’re technically not twins). Plus, there has to be less creepy ways to make you see double. Plus, there has to be less creepy ways to make you see double.
– The Massie Twins