There are many components that occur behind the scenes of a film that audiences don’t even realize occurs. Sometimes it’s lighting just off frame creating the glow of a fire. Sometimes it’s a giant water rig to create rain. And more often than not, audience’s have no idea that the actor doing that crazy stunt is not the actor at all, but rather a body double. 

While most of us are aware of the job of a stunt double, there is only one kind of body double that could be on set. Why else would a body double be used? What is a body double in film? We’ll cover all that and look into some examples in this article.

What is a Body Double in Film?

First, let’s define a body double

Body doubles can be used for various reasons. Before we dive into them, let’s take a look at the definition of a body double and what makes a body double great for certain actors.

BODY DOUBLE MEANING

What is a body double in film?

In film, a body double is a person who takes the place of an actor in a scene often warranted by their physical similarities. The body double is meant to create the illusion that they are still the same actor in the scene. For this reason, the face of the body double is typically avoided or obscured in the shot to maintain this illusion. 

Body doubles typically are casted to be the same general height, weight, skin tone, and physique as the actor. Based on what they are needed for, these details can be manipulated so that they can perform stunts are other special skills.

What is a body double used for?

  • Nudity scenes
  • Special skills
  • Mitigate actor’s working restrictions
  • VFX an actor's face on body double

Now that you understand what a body double is, let’s dive into why an actor or a production would want to use a body double in the first place. We’ll take a look at a few examples from films that you may have not even known were body doubles in the first place. 

What is Body Doubling Used For?

Nudity

A very common reason an actor would opt for a body double is for nude scenes. The reasons may vary. Some actors would prefer a body double due to physical flaws sometimes due to aging. Others out right prefer not to be nude on camera.

In this scene, from Wedding Crashers, Isla Fisher opted to use a body double for her partially nude scene. And thanks to some convincing editing, audiences couldn’t even tell. 

Wedding Crashers body double film

Fisher explained her decision in an interview saying "I feel like if you have a female comic character and then you see her nipples, then she is no longer funny which is clearly wrong. That's what I didn't want to do." 

What is a Stunt Double Used For?

Special Skills

Another reason an actor or production would opt for a body double is for any special skills that the actor does not have, but the body double does. One type of body double with special skills is the stunt double. The stunt double often comes in for stunts that are too dangerous for an actor or require professional level athletic ability. 

This can be the cast for actors playing characters like professional athletes, fighters, or drivers in chase scenes. Here are some of the top stunt doubles in some of the most famous movies of recent cinema. 

10 Gorgeous Stunt Doubles Who Put The Actors To Shame

Still not convinced that an actor may need a body double? Sure many actors do their own stunts. But sometimes body doubles literally keep the production moving forward. How? By allowing the production to continue despite actors’ working restraints.

What is a Body Double Used For?

Working restrictions

A common restriction for actor’s due to either SAG or other contracts is time. A common problem productions face is that actors must have a minimum of twelve hours off between wrap time and their next call time. When shoots wrap late, this can slow down production for the following day snowballing into production problems for the week. 

To navigate around this, body doubles are often used during the hours actors cannot work. They are also used when only a partial body part is shown in frame. This can be insert shots, over the shoulder shots, or close ups on hands or feet. 

What is Body Doubling in VFX Used For?

VFX

More recently, body doubles have been used to literally be… a body. With VFX technology, actor’s faces can be edited onto the body and performance of a body double. Why would a film do this? One of the most famous reasons recently was to capture scenes with Paul Walker in Fast and Furious 7 after his unfortunate death. 

Another reason would be to create twins from one actor. This was the case in one of David Fincher’s best movies The Social Network. This may be a surprise to you, but actor Armie Hammer who plays the Winklevoss Twins is not actually a twin. Fincher used a body double for the twin along with motion control cameras to create the WInklevoss twins in post with VFX.

VFX Breakdown  •  The Social Network  •  Lola Visual Effects

While the reasons to use a body double can vary greatly, there is no doubt that body doubles can be incredibly important to the production of a film. Whether it’s for action sequences, creating twins, or simply to keep the production moving, body doubles can be a solution to many production problems. 

UP NEXT

How to Become a Casting Director

Casting body doubles is just one of the responsibilities that falls onto casting directors. Interested in becoming a casting director? We’ve composed a step-by-step guide outlining how to become a casting director for movies. Check it out next. 

Up Next: How to Become a Casting Director →
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