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What is the most distinct roles played by the same actor within a single movie?

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15  
Cloud Atlas also deserves an honourable mention - it had about a dozen actors playing 5 or 6 characters each, most of them completely distinct major characters. – user568458 Feb 24 at 10:11
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Does Being John Malcovich count? – OrangeDog Feb 24 at 18:39
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@eYe: I voted to close. This is far too broad, and has turned into a list question. Look at the answers - people are even posting now saying "I know this isn't the most, but what about...". There's an endless list of "what abouts", so I voted to close. – Andrew Martin Feb 24 at 19:29
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@AndrewMartin I disagree it's too broad, and I don't think the bad answers are the fault of a perfectly answerable question. As for the "I know this isn't..." answers: do you think downvoting's sufficient, or should they be flagged as NAA? (Protection, on the other hand, absolutely a good call.) – nitsua60 Feb 25 at 4:01
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So, to bring some order into this mess of a Hot Network Question, we've cleaned up some of the "answers" that were not posted with the intention of providing a genuine answer to the question, but explicitly stated that it was just a cool example to add, knowing that it won't beat the other answers. The protection was a good call, too. As much as this site does support 'first appearance' and 'most appearances' questions, we have to keep an eye on those trivia lists not getting totally out of hand. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 25 at 10:44
up vote 53 down vote accepted

I don't know the answer. But here's a potential candidate. Unlike the aforementioned films that involved digital cloning of one character (Clone Wars, The Matrix, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Buster Keaton physically acted out (from my count) 27 separate roles in his 1921 film The Play House

enter image description here

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6  
While I considered this, 1. This is a short (22 mins) and 2. Most of those other characters that Keaton plays appear briefly in a dream sequence and are hardly distinct. So again, it depends on what the OP meant. – Walt Feb 24 at 7:52
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For the record, Deep Roy certainly played more than 30 distinct oompa loompas. – user7812 Feb 24 at 13:58
    
@Richard that's probably true. It'd be interesting to find out how many he had to portray. – DA. Feb 24 at 20:32
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@DA. - There's your task for this evening :-) – user7812 Feb 24 at 20:43

In Bollywood film What's Your Raashee?, Priyanka Chopra plays 12 characters, depicting the signs of the zodiac.

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Individual role played by the actress with there zodiac sighs are as below :

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All twelve character have different characteristic then the rest, few also address social issues of India too and get sufficient scene time in the film, making it 211 minutes after the cuts and got criticized for length. The actress was considered for Guinness World Records as the first actress to play 12 different characters in one film. Film was a flop but actress got lot of praise.

Another film from India, Dasavathaaram also is bit close with 10 roles played by same character.

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14  
+1 I think this answer has the most highly discernible, distinct, major characters all central to the plot – user568458 Feb 25 at 10:43
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I watched it without knowing that all 12 characters were played by the same actress and I can confirm, they are distinct characters with different roles. – chell Feb 28 at 3:17

Deep Roy played all 165 Oompa Loompas in the hit film Charlie and the Chocolate factory.

Temuera Morrison was the basis for the clones seen in this scene from "Attack of the Clones". I count approximately 5000 versions of him, albeit some in helmets.

Hugo Weaving was a lot of Smith. An awful lot of Smith.

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8  
What about distinct (or semi-original) characters. The OP might be asking about your "Eddie Murphy as horrible fat people" type movies? Would/should that be a different question? – Meat Trademark Feb 23 at 21:16
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Yeah, this depends on what the OP means by role, really. Deep Roy doesn't have 165 credits in this film, just 1: 'Oompa Loompa'. And Hypothetical Clone #4071 isn't really a distinct role. – Walt Feb 23 at 21:19
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If we're not counting distinct roles, someone needs to add Agent Smith in the Matrix Revolutions, playing the part of... well... every person in the world, basically. – Andrew Martin Feb 23 at 21:19
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@AndrewMartin - I'm reasonably sure they were all Agent Smith. That's why I didn't include it. – user7812 Feb 23 at 21:20
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@AndrewMartin - What the hell. I love this movie and don't need much of an excuse to rewatch the clip. – user7812 Feb 23 at 21:24

Kind Hearts and Coronets is a full length film where Alec Guinness plays eight members of the D'Ascoyne family: Ethelred "the Duke", Lord Ascoyne "the Banker", Reverend Lord Henry "the Parson", General Lord Rufus "the General", Admiral Lord Horatio "the Admiral", Young Ascoyne, Young Henry and Lady Agatha D'Ascoyne. He also plays the seventh duke in brief flashback sequences to Mama's youth.

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6  
That Wikipedia page has a great quote from Alec Guinness about the first version of the script, where he only got 4 characters: "I read [the screenplay] on a beach in France, collapsed with laughter on the first page, and didn't even bother to get to the end of the script. I went straight back to the hotel and sent a telegram saying, 'Why four parts? Why not eight!?" – user568458 Feb 24 at 14:01
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While this isn't the highest, this answer looks like a worthy contribution for being (so far) the highest number of discernible named characters with distinct personalities and roles, in a full-length English language movie. – user568458 Feb 25 at 10:39

From the 2013 Chilean comedy film "El Ciudadano Kramer" ("Citizen Kramer"), 24 roles for a single actor :

  1. Stefan Kramer as himself, and
  2. "Alturo Longton" (Arturo Longton)
  3. "Moreno Piñera" (Miguel "Negro" Piñera - brother of the President)
  4. "Hablo Zalaquett" (Pablo Zalaquett)
  5. "Don Tatán" (Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile at the time)
  6. Rodrigo Hinzpeter
  7. Iván Fuentes
  8. Carlos Larraín (Senator)
  9. Camilo Escalona (Senator)
  10. Marco Enríquez-Ominami (Presidential candidate)
  11. José Antonio Gómez
  12. Fernando Paulsen
  13. Matías del Río
  14. Michelle Bachelet (Presidential candidate in 2013, actual President)
  15. Evelyn Matthei (Senator)
  16. Franco Parisi (Presidential candidate)
  17. Rafael Araneda (TV presenter)
  18. Kike Morandé (TV presenter)
  19. Diana Bolocco (TV presenter)
  20. Mario Kreutzberger (TV presenter, aka "Don Francisco")
  21. Amaro Gómez-Pablos
  22. Martín Cárcamo (TV presenter)
  23. Karen Doggenweiler (TV presenter, wife of #9)
  24. Leonardo Farkas (Proposed presidential candidate)
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2  
+1 Impressive! Do all these roles have dialogue and distinct personalities? Would it be possible to mark which ones are major roles (bold?) and which if any are walk-on parts with for example one brief appearance or line (italics?)? – user568458 Feb 25 at 10:45
    
Yes, all those roles have dialogue and distinct personalities (all of them are characterizations of real people from Chilean TV and politics), and many of them iteract with each other. Regarding the major roles, from memory i'll say #1-3 and #6-10. I'll watch the movie again over the weekend and edit my answer accordingly. – x86tux Feb 25 at 18:09

Does the "Malkovich Malkovich" scene from Being John Malkovich count? It's difficult to count precisely how many Malkoviches are in this scene; I counted 45 while going through shot-by-shot, but I may have missed a few and/or double-counted some. These are obviously not named roles, so it may not count for what you're looking for.

Beyond this, Malkovich also plays three "characters" for substantial periods of time in the movie:

  • Himself;
  • Craig inhabiting his body; and
  • Lester and his friends inhabiting his body, towards the end of the movie.

Several other characters "enter" John Malkovich during the movie, but they are not shown having control over Malkovich (just being spectators.)

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3  
Malkovich? Malkovich Malkovich. Mal Malllkovich! – Lego Stormtroopr Feb 24 at 23:16
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I wouldn't say they're much closer to being distinct, discernible characters than Deep Roy's 165 Oompa Loompas, but if we're allowing minor/walk-on parts, they're better than the Star Wars clones or Agent Smiths. – user568458 Feb 25 at 10:35
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I got 48 on a first try at counting, but there are probably some duplicates and a bunch I missed. – Mark Feb 25 at 10:37
    
@nitsua60: It was a SWAG originally, but I did a more careful finger-on-the-pause-button count and counted 45 Malkoviches. I've updated my answer accordingly. – Michael Seifert Feb 25 at 14:12
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I saw this on the big screen very drunk and stoned with a group of friends in college. Hours later I fell asleep sitting on someone's couch at a party and a few minutes later started screaming "I am in John Malkovich! I am in John Malkovich!" Thank god there were no cell phone cameras then or youtube. – blankip Feb 26 at 6:25

Along the same lines as Michael Seifert's answer, I nominate John Simm in the Doctor Who episode The End of Time, Part 1 and The End of Time, Part 2, in which he appeared as every human on Earth, a total of more than six billion different roles.

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protected by Andrew Martin Feb 24 at 23:08

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