Body double

In filmmaking, a body double is a person who substitutes in a scene for another actor such that the person's face is not shown.

Body double
NamesBody double, nude double, hand double, stunt double
Activity sectors
CompetenciesResemblance to real actor or person
Fields of
Film, television, theatre
Related jobs
Stunt double, stand-in, actor, movie star, decoy, political decoy


In a recorded visual medium, a body double is used in certain specific shots to replace the credited actor of a character. The body double's face is obscured to maintain the illusion that they are the same character; usually by shooting their body at an angle that leaves their face out (such as by showing the body double from the back) or in post-production by superimposing the original actor's face over the body double's.

Body doubles are most often used for shots involving a nude scene. The reasons for this vary. Actor's nude bodies may have too many physical flaws and imperfections that would show on camera, especially due to aging. Also, some actors refuse to do nude scenes, although the latter is becoming less common as many actors are now sometimes contracted to do nudity. More specific terms are often used in special cases; a stunt double is used for dangerous or sophisticated sequences. This is in contrast to a stand-in who replaces an actor for non-filming purposes such as scene arrangement and lighting adjustments.

Stunt double or body double can both be used for cases where special skills are neededanything from playing the piano, to competitive skiing.[1]

Also, if only a part of the body is shown, the term might be more specific; probably the most common is a hand double, who is used to shoot inserts where only the hand or arm is in the shot. These inserts are often shot by the second unit with a double at a later point in production primarily because it allows the main unit to use the lead actors' time more efficiently. Another common body double is the butt double, mostly used with TV, since whole-body nudity isn't as common in that medium. The term stunt butt is also attested,[2] as is stunt cock.

A production scene photodouble portrays a double of the lead actor for the director. A double will be seen on camera during the movie. Some of these many double-acted scenes could be long or wide establishing shots, complicated over-the-shoulder main lead actor's dialogue sequences or in quick insert close-up shots involving only showing actor's body parts.[3]

A photodouble must be able to recite his lines with the same timing as the lead actor, and also reproduce the exact physical actions in co-ordination with the other principal actors; usually, body-doubles must be of the same approximate height and weight of the actor they're replacing.[4]

The double's face is usually not seen on-camera, particularly when they don't facially resemble the actor; a wig will usually be employed if the double's hair color is different from that of the main actor.[5]

An extensively used body double, especially when used in cases where the credited actor has died, is known as a fake Shemp.


In some productions, a scene calls for two characters in the same shot, both of whom are portrayed by a single actor. A body double can portray one of the characters, while the credited actor plays the other, thus enabling both characters to appear simultaneously on camera. An example of this is the identical cousins on The Patty Duke Show, back view double played by Rita Walter.

An unusual example of body doubling took place in the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day. A scene requiring Linda Hamilton to appear as two Sarah Connors in the same scene was created by employing Hamilton's identical twin sister Leslie as her double. This has become less common with the digital editing currently available which can splice together multiple takes, allowing for an actor to perform as each character in separate takes that are joined together to create the image of the characters in same setting, such as with Deep Roy who portrayed the Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.[6]

The 1984 film Body Double, directed by Brian De Palma, featured a plot that hinged on the discovery that one character had in fact served as a body double for another.[7][8]

See also


  1. "What is a body double?".
  2. Gawker. "Gossip Roundup: Does Halle Berry Use Brad Pitt's Stunt Butt?". Gawker. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on 2007-06-20.
  3. ""Know When to Properly Use the Term 'Stand-In'!" - Stand-In Central's Plea to the Media - Stand-In Central". Stand-In Central. Archived from the original on 2015-07-22. Retrieved 2015-06-16.
  4. "36 Actors Hanging Out With Their Body Doubles". BuzzFeed. Archived from the original on 2017-05-19. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
  5. ", Body double for Hollywood's biggest films, January 15, 2014". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  6. ", Deep Roy". Archived from the original on 2015-06-17. Retrieved 2015-06-16.
  7. Williams, Linda: 'The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema', p. 86, 2005.
  8. Ann Cvetkovich: "Postmodern Vertigo: The Sexual Politics of Allusion in De Palma's Body Double Archived February 11, 2013, at the Wayback Machine" from Raubicheck, Walter, and Walter Srebnick, eds., Hitchcock's Rereleased Films: From Rope to Vertigo. Detroit: Wayne State U Press, 1991.
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