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

  • 19
    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. Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 10:11
  • 6
    If it was TV shows not films the actress from Orphan Black would be pretty high up the list.
    – Tim B
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 11:26
  • 20
    Does Being John Malcovich count?
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 18:39
  • 7
    @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
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 4:01
  • 8
    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
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 10:44

9 Answers 9


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

  • 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
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 7:52
  • 13
    For the record, Deep Roy certainly played more than 30 distinct oompa loompas.
    – user7812
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 13:58
  • @Richard that's probably true. It'd be interesting to find out how many he had to portray.
    – DA.
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 20:32
  • 5
    @DA. - There's your task for this evening :-)
    – user7812
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 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.

  • 16
    +1 I think this answer has the most highly discernible, distinct, major characters all central to the plot Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 10:43
  • 2
    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.
    – user31719
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 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.

  • 1
    Really don't think this can be beaten. 165? That's impressively high. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:10
  • 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? Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:16
  • 6
    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
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:19
  • 9
    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. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:19
  • 4
    @AndrewMartin - I'm reasonably sure they were all Agent Smith. That's why I didn't include it.
    – user7812
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:20

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.

  • 7
    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!?" Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 14:01
  • 4
    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. Commented Feb 25, 2016 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)
  • 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?)? Commented Feb 25, 2016 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
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 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.)

  • 4
    Malkovich? Malkovich Malkovich. Mal Malllkovich!
    – user11607
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 23:16
  • 4
    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. Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 10:35
  • 3
    I got 48 on a first try at counting, but there are probably some duplicates and a bunch I missed.
    – Mark
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 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. Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 14:12
  • 4
    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
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 6:25

Johnson George played 45 roles in a Malayalam film named Aaranu Njan (Film name means Who am I?).

He currently holds the Guinness world record for playing most characters in a single movie.

He played roles like Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, Leonardo da Vinci, APJ Abdul Kalam in the movie. Below is a movie poster showing different characters played by the actor.

Movie poster of Aaranu Njan

  • 3
    I suppose this should be the new accepted answer, can't get more legit than a Guinness book reference.
    – Luciano
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 9:53

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.

  • 2
    we don't see the 6 billion on screen, so shouldn't it be just the on-screen characters?
    – Luciano
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 12:27

In the movies Split and Glass, the actor James McAvoy plays a shizophrenic character, who manifests in up to 24 characters (7 of which are shown in Split and 9 in Glass).

  • Yes but he doesn't play all these personalities... We only see 9, so those are the ones who count.
    – Luciano
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 9:51
  • Which is exactly what i wrote... Maybe you should also add too Rand's answer that John Simm does not really act as all 6 Billion people on earth...
    – BestGuess
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 10:58
  • 1
    What I'm saying is that we actually see the 9 personalities, the other 15 do not count since they're never seen on screen. So your answer should be only 9. John Simm doesn't act as 6 billion people, a better answer would be to actually count the on-screen characters (like the Being John Malkovich answer).
    – Luciano
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 12:26
  • "(7 of which are shown in Split and 9 in Glass)."
    – BestGuess
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 12:38

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