Body double

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This article is about the job in visual-media production. For the film, see Body Double. For the book by Tess Gerritsen, see Body Double (novel).
Body double
Names Body double, nude double, hand double, stunt double
Activity sectors
Competencies Resemblance to real actor or person
Related jobs
Stunt double, stand-in, actor, movie star, decoy, political decoy

A body double is a general term in film-making for a person who substitutes in a scene for another actor such that the person's face is not shown.


A body substitute replaces the credited actor of a character in any recorded visual medium in shots where the character's body is shown but the face is either not visible or shown indistinctly, or in shots where the image of the credited actor's face is joined to the image of the body double's body. Body doubles are most often used for shots involving a nude scene. 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 needed—anything 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]


In some productions, this technique (use of a double whose face is not seen on camera) is used where one actor is credited as playing more than one character. If both characters (played by the same actor) appear on camera in the same scene, the credited actor plays the character whose face is seen, and the double plays the other character (usually seen only from the back). 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 allowing the credited actor to play multiple versions of herself onscreen such as with Deep Roy in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In such a case, the actor simply performs each doppelgänger's actions or dialogue separately in separate takes which are superimposed either through digital or conventional process shot methods.[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[edit]