There has been a bit of confusion over the way the roles of twin brothers Tyler and Cameron Winkelvoss were played in the David Fincher film The Social Network so Entertainment Weekly went right to the source to get the matter sorted out. The twin roles were played by one actor — Armie Hammer — with the help of a body double — Josh Pence — and a whole lotta of CGI:
Audiences are seeing double this weekend in The Social Network, which features two characters based on the real life Winklevoss twins — a pair of 6’5″ future-Olympian rowers who claim that Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) swiped their idea for a social networking site. Stick around for the end credits and you’ll see that the twins are actually played by two actors, Armie Hammer and Josh Pence. Yet they look — and sound — completely identical. How did they do that? According to director David Fincher, it was simple — although keep in mind that this is the same guy who put Brad Pitt’s face on a baby in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Hammer played the main twin in each shot. For shots that included both twins at the same time, Pence stood in for the second twin; Hammer later went into a studio, where he strapped his head into a harness to film that twin’s face and voice, which was then digitally superimposed over Pence’s face in the film. The result is a sort of hybrid actor with Hammer’s head and Pence’s body. Intricate split-screens and rotoscoping were also used for some shots. Piece of cake, right? “After Benjamin Button, you go, ‘It can be done,’” says Fincher. “Give us a case of Red Bull and a weekend, and we’ll figure this out.” The director insists that he didn’t use all this CGI wizardry just for kicks. “For a long time, I held out for this idea that we were going to find two 6’5″ 220-pound scullers who were going to be able to act,” he laughs. “So we looked and we looked and we looked and finally, probably about four weeks out from shooting, I just said, this is crazy. We’re never going to be able to get [it]. We need an actor. We need one person to play two people.” Fincher found that person in Armie Hammer, an actor who shared both the Winklevoss’ build and high-society charm. (In real life, Hammer is heir to the Armand Hammer oil fortune.) But the director still needed another actor to play the twin stand-in, so he made an appeal to Pence, an in-demand male model. “I said, “Look, if you agree to do this, all the over-the-shoulders are going to be you, you gotta learn all the lines, you gotta be there for every shoot day,’” recalls Fincher, “‘And when push comes to shove, I’m gonna lop your head off and put Armie’s head on you. It’s gonna be a completely thankless task.’ He’s so awesome. He said, ‘I’d love to do it.’”
And there you have it … one actor, one body double = two twin characters. To be honest, I had no idea that Hammer played both roles until David noticed his name in the credits listed for both Winkelvii. Now I need to see The Social Network again just so I can pay attention to the way the twin roles are handled. It’s a credit to David Fincher that I had no idea there was any CGI involved at all the first time I saw it. If anything, the way that the Winkelvoss twins are portrayed in the film is Oscar-worthy as well.