Body double

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



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. Actors' 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.[ citation needed ] 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 is less 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

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A stand-in for film and television is a person who substitutes for the actor before filming, for technical purposes such as lighting and camera setup. Stand-ins are helpful in the initial processes of film and television production.

Stunt Unusual and difficult physical feat

A stunt is an unusual and difficult physical feat or an act requiring a special skill, performed for artistic purposes usually on television, theaters, or cinema. Stunts are a feature of many action films. Before computer generated imagery special effects, these effects were limited to the use of models, false perspective and other in-camera effects, unless the creator could find someone willing to jump from car to car or hang from the edge of a skyscraper: the stunt performer or stunt double.

Film transition Technique by which scenes or shots of a film are combined

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Stunt double Skilled lookalike who performs stunts in place of an actor for a dangerous film sequence

In filmmaking, a stunt double is a cross between a body double and a stunt performer, specifically a skilled replacement used for dangerous sequences, such as jumping out of a building or from vehicle to vehicle, and for other sophisticated stunts. Stunt doubles may be used in cases where an actor's physical condition or age precludes much activity, or when an actor is contractually prohibited from taking certain risks. A dance double performs the dangerous or physically difficult dance parts of a character's role.

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Nudity in film

Nudity in film is the presentation in a film of at least one person who is fully or partly nude, showing one or more bare genitals, breast or buttocks. In some films, nudity may be suggestive or implied, such as when a person seemingly naked is covered by a sheet, while in others it is explicit. Since the development of the medium, depiction in films of any form of sexuality has been controversial, and in the case of most nude scenes has had to be justified as being part of the story, in the concept of "artistically justifiable nudity", though some films contain "gratuitous nudity". Many actors and actresses have appeared nude, or exposing parts of their bodies or dressed in ways considered provocative by contemporary standards at some point in their careers.

This article contains a list of cinematic techniques that are divided into categories and briefly described.

Fake Shemp Someone who appears in a film as a replacement for another person

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A nudity clause is a paragraph or a section in a performer's legal contract that stipulates which parts, if any, of the performer's body are to be exposed during a theatrical, television, cinematic, or other type of production. The clause may stipulate that a performer will not be required to perform in the nude, or it may specify that a performer is not allowed to perform in the nude. Nevertheless, a character they play may appear to be nude by the use of a "body double" in place of the performer during a nude scene or the use of a flesh-colored bodystocking or a pubic area-covering merkin. Sometimes a performer will refuse to accept a role which involves nudity.

Single-camera setup Film or video production principally using only one camera

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Pornographic film actor Person who performs sex acts in video that is usually characterized as a pornographic movie

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