In some TV shows and movies, an actor plays more than one character in one scene. How do they film the actor as one character talking to another character than they play?

I can understand scenes where the characters are "independent" of each other; they talk but don't physically do anything with each other. However, what I can't understand is when the character does something to the other character e.g. when Jack Sparrow (Captain) stabs another version of himself when in Davy Jones' Locker

Does anyone know how they film scenes like this?


They film the scene at least twice. Let's say twins A and B are both played by actor C, and there is a body double (same height and weight, same costume and hair available) D.

First time, C is playing A and D is playing B. The camera is positioned (in the old days) so you can't see D's face. C does all the acting. D says lines to give C something to react to and so that small body movements (head and shoulders) match what happens when someone is speaking.

Second time, they switch. C plays B, D plays A. C is facing camera and D is facing away with the face hidden.

Now you intercut C saying an A line with C saying a B line. D is always in the shot providing a back-of-the-head or an arm.

If that's not "cool" enough, you shoot a third time with the actor C positioned to the camera exactly how D was in the scenes. This gives you some side-of-the-face or whatnot to CGI into the scene itself (rather than switching back and forth between frames from the first shot and frames from the second shot as they used to do.)

While this seems like a lot of work, you go through the "shoot it twice" process for pretty much any scene between two people, even if the characters are played by different actors.

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  • 1
    Really not sure why this is down voted. Seems to match my experience. – Catija May 7 '17 at 14:55
  • 3
    The other case to consider is when the two twin characters are facing each other with the camera filming from the side. These shots are filmed in the same way as described, and then the images are cut in half and reassembled so that only the "real" actor appears. (ie: keeping the halves with the "real" actor and dumping the halves with the double.) In the olden days this involved literally cutting the film in half, nowadays it would just be done in photoshop. You may also notice that nothing crosses the middle of the screen during these shots (or rarely). – Steve-O May 7 '17 at 17:35
  • Orphan Black is filmed this way: YouTube video – sorbet May 7 '17 at 18:09

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