How are dual/double role films shot in which the actor is shown on the screen at the same time in the same or different z-index planes and are in a fight scene in which one actor is punching the other, especially on the face?

I've heard of split filming and stitching the scene, green screen, and lastly computer processed overlays of the actor's face on another actor's body with the same build. The last one I've seen in The Social Network but I'm referring to films that were shot pre 2005.

And it looks very real.

  • I think split filming and stitching technique is present before 2005.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 5:54

3 Answers 3


The most common method used for this, rather than green screen, is using action doubles.

The first thing you need to do is find someone who is about the same height as your main actor. Similar hair is also necessary, so whether the Doppelganger needs to dye his or her hair or wear a wig, that’s a judgment call.

Place the Doppelganger with his or her back to the camera and frame the shot to shoot over that person’s shoulder to focus on the main actor. Film it that way until you get what you want.

For the reverse of that shot, switch the hair and the outfit of the main actor and the Doppelganger and do the same thing on the other side. This way you can edit it so that you basically have the same person having a conversation with himself. - (Source: timidmonster.com)

  • So, was Paheli (2005) shot this way also? I don't quite understand the "over the shoulder" part of the explanation. How would this work if both actors need to be in the same frame, with their faces showing, and possibly crossing boundaries to poke or touch the other at the exact same time?
    – paulkon
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 5:51
  • @PaulKonova I think paheli might used CGI/green screen etc but not sure.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 5:52
  • @paulkon for over the shoulder part, we have CGI now, if both need to be shown together with face.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 18:23

Split filming to duplicate an actor, which is basically involves shooting the scene twice with the actor in one role, then the other, then stitching the separate shoots together, long predates 2005.

The earliest example of a film I know of that used this technique is the musical Wonder Man, which is from 1945.

  • The Georges Méliès short "Un homme de têtes" (also known as "The troublesome heads") predates that by a considerable margin (1898). In that film, George Méliès removes his head from his shoulders and sets it on a table, whereupon it starts looking around (double-exposed), and he sprouts a new head. He repeats this process twice more, so his head appears four times on screen (exposing the film four times). Although the film was cut together after it was developed, all multiple exposures were done entirely in-camera.
    – supercat
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 23:08

Have the actor or actress do the scene twice so when you edit the movie it looks like there two of them ,for example Jean Claude Van Damme in Time Cop were he goes back to 1985 to stop a terrorist.

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