Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Emma Watson and Kiernan Shipka star in: 50 actors who should play siblings

Emma Watson and Kiernan Shipka

It shouldn’t be surprising that, given the industry’s penchant for perfect faces and stunning figures, Hollywood would occasionally tap two actors for stardom that—gasp!—look fairly similar. It happens. Just ask Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain. But what is shocking is that the movie moguls out there aren’t taking better advantage of these similar Sallys and familiar Franks, casting them as siblings in whatever zany comedies, dramatic musicals, or Heigl-esque romcoms they’ve got coming down the pipe. Fortunately for Hollywood, The A.V. Club has a few elevator pitches for movies we think would work just great. And, hey, studio heads—if you’re interested, bring your checkbooks.

Advertisement

1-2. Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill star in Fun Uncle

Advertisement

While Jonah Hill has made efforts in recent years to downplay his similarities to curly-haired Judd Apatow stablemate Seth Rogen—changing his physique, and focusing on dramatic projects like Moneyballthere’s no reason bleak comedy Fun Uncle can’t use that distancing vibe to add subtext to its scenes of sibling strife. When the movie opens, uptight professor Jeffery Johnson (Hill) has been intentionally avoiding his lazy, weed-hawking older brother Alex (Rogen) for years, sick of living in his charismatic shadow. So when Alex swans into town looking for a place to crash, instantly charming Jeffery’s dissatisfied family, it turns Hill into a resentment-fueled wreck. The film’s big climax sees Alex, Jeffery, and Jeffery’s wife Liz (Emma Stone) getting high together, and an inhibitions-loosened Liz finally admits how miserable living with Jeffery makes her feel. As she goes upstairs to pack a bag, the two brothers launch into a brutal fist fight that leaves them both broken and battered on the floor of Jeffery’s shattered home. Cue up “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” as they stare at each other, then cut to black. [William Hughes]

3-4. Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain star in Who? Her?

Advertisement

Much has obviously been made about the facial similarities between Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain, with the former even cracking wise about it during the Jurassic World press tour. So why not strike while the casting iron is hot and put the two in a Cyrano-style romantic comedy? Chastain plays Jan, a glasses-wearing and mostly homebound blogger who, while gifted with words, just has never been able to find love. Enter Howard as Jillian, a flighty, slightly stupid publicist with a gift for gab and a strikingly similar appearance. After a chance meeting, the two decide to use each other—Jan uses Jillian to built confidence in her words and to go after a neighbor she’s been eyeing for a while. Jillian wants Jan to help her seem smart, to nab more jobs, and to… who cares? It’s a romantic comedy. The plot doesn’t have to make complete sense. The whole thing goes south when both gals fall for the same guy, and—zoinks!—he’s not sure who’s who in his heart of hearts. What a disaster! [Marah Eakin]

5-6. Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence star in Lonely Child

Advertisement

Ashley (Jennifer Lawrence) was only 8 when her older sister Maggie (Amy Schumer) went off to college, so they’ve never really felt like siblings. But that all changes when their parents ask Maggie to drive Ashley (who’s deathly afraid of flying) from Boston to South Florida for their grandmother’s funeral. Things are initially tense between these two lonely almost-only children until the girls discover they share the same raunchy sense of humor in this bawdy road trip flick about sisterly bonds and fart jokes. [Caroline Siede]

7-9. Jake Johnson, Oscar Isaac, and David Krumholtz are The Barlow Brothers

Advertisement

While these three actors undoubtedly share an eerie family resemblance, the tricky thing is finding a project that suits their diverse talents. The Barlow Brothers is a dramatic period piece that charts the rise and fall of a vaudeville act starring Byron, Buford, and Bartholomew Barlow. Jake Johnson and David Krumholtz will flourish in the scenes where we see the pratfalls and punchlines of their comedy act. Meanwhile Oscar Isaac can bring dramatic heft to the offstage scenes where we learn that performing the vaudeville circuit is anything but a joke: If the work doesn’t consume you, the drinking, gambling, and infidelity will. [Caroline Siede]

10-11. Adam Brody and Penn Badgley star in The Psychoanalyst’s Dilemma

Advertisement

The two former stars of teen soap hits The O.C. and Gossip Girl bear an uncanny resemblance to one another—a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed, especially once Brody got married to Leighton Meester, a.k.a. Blair from Gossip Girl, whom Badgley had an on-screen relationship with during the final season of the show. Thus, they would make the perfect pair for a nebbishy Woody Allen-style New York intellectual comedy. It all starts when Brody’s neurotic TV writer Marty is floored by the sudden death of his analyst during a freak accident at the Belmont Stakes. Frantic, he takes a recommendation from a friend, and arrives to discover Badgley’s eerily similar-looking shrink character, Dr. Saul Steinmetz. Nonplussed, Marty begins to unload his worries onto Saul, who quickly realizes they share the exact same fears and phobias. The comedy of errors builds as Saul starts secretly tailing Marty all over town, convinced he holds the key to Saul’s own anxieties. Soon, it’s a battle of the schlimazels as Marty and Saul try to use one another to escape their own troubles. It’s a prescription for laughter! [Alex McCown]

12-13. Julia Stiles and Ansel Elgort in Did You Hear About Her Brother?

Advertisement

Lifetime’s latest original movie asks: How far will a family go to protect its name? From the outside, the Eriksons have the perfect suburban household. Parents Scott and Jill live at home with their polite 17-year-old son Max (Ansel Elgort), and even though their adult daughter Anna (Julia Stiles) is busy with her residency, she comes home to visit almost every weekend. But some things about Max’s life just don’t add up: Why don’t his parents ever talk about his childhood? Why does Anna keep such a close eye on him? And why do the locals who went to school with Anna whisper about him behind his back? When he resolves to dig into his past, Max finally discovers the family’s secret: Anna is not his sister but his mother—she got pregnant at 15 and her parents forced her to cover it up and let them raise the baby as their own so as not to lose face in their community. In a heartwrenching scene, Max finally confronts Anna with the truth and they agree to live their lives in the open: As mother and son. [Caroline Siede]

14-18. Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Anne Hathaway star in Like A Sister To Me

Advertisement

Not all of these performers look or act especially alike, but they’ve all shown sufficient chemistry to be cast in assorted permutations of sibling relationships: Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie played sisters in Save The Date; Brie was Emily Blunt’s sister in The Five-Year Engagement; Blunt was Rosemarie DeWitt’s sister in Your Sister’s Sister; DeWitt, a consummate on-screen sibling, was also Anne Hathaway’s sister in Rachel Getting Married; and while Hathaway and Blunt haven’t actually played sisters, they had that sort of relationship in The Devil Wears Prada. It can be a little confusing to keep track of it all, not to mention the comings and goings of various real or fake English accents. Probably best, then, to get them all together and playing five sisters in Like A Sister To Me, a smaller-scale spin on Cheaper By The Dozen meets Party Of Five, where the children of an unusually large family have grown up and become disgruntled about having to raise and look after each other since the premature death of their parents. There are a lot of hijinks, alliances, and grudges—typical family-dramedy stuff, but with a cast on hand that knows how to make the best of withering sarcasm and deadpan irritation. The actresses can decide as a group whether or not this family is English. [Jesse Hassenger]

19-20. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart star in a remake of Twins

Advertisement

Pretty much the only thing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart have in common is their mutual love of comedy. Which makes them perfect for a remake of the 1988 buddy comedy, Twins. The polar opposite fraternal twins were created by the U.S. government in a secret attempt to produce the perfect child. Separated at birth, they eventually reconnect on a mission to find their biological mother. Hart will take on the Danny DeVito role of a streetwise con artist. Johnson, meanwhile, will fill in for Arnold Schwarzenegger as the brilliant but socially naïve Adonis-like scientist. This action comedy remake will feature all the heart and humor of the original plus certain flair only the team of Johnson and Hart can provide. [Caroline Siede]

21-22. Natasha Lyonne and Alia Shawkat star in The Shakedown Sisters

Advertisement

Natasha Lyonne’s career seems to have fully rebounded thanks to a magnetic turn on Orange Is The New Black. Alia Shawkat deserves more work outside of Arrested Development. So the world needs The Shakedown Sisters, in which the two freckle-faced scam artists share a sibling rivalry overflowing with wisecracks and hair. The duo finds no shortage of easy marks among the tourists and retirees of South Florida’s beach towns. But when gullible tourist Aziz Ansari breezes into town, is there more to him than meets the eye? Will his romantic overtures threaten to tear the two sisters apart? Will he end up trying to scam the scammers? The answers may surprise you, assuming you’ve never seen a movie before! [Mike Vago]

23-24. Orlando Jones and Tyler James Williams star in Parallel Lines

Advertisement

Isaiah and Jordan were the happiest twins anyone could ask for until Jordan was struck by a car and killed when the boys were only 12 years old. A decade later the brilliant young scientist Isaiah (Tyler James Williams) has dedicated himself to the study of parallel dimensions, hoping to find a way to leap into a world where he brother is alive. But when he finally figures out the key to dimension hopping, he makes a mistake with his calculations: Not only does he jump into another dimension, he leaps 25 years into the future. Jordan (Orlando Jones) is indeed alive, but he’s now 47 years old. In this timeline, Isaiah was the one killed in a car accident and Jordan was the one who dedicated himself to cross dimensional travel. But in this futuristic world, dimension hopping, or “zinging” as they call it, is illegal and Jordan is on the run from Elemental Cops who want to commandeer his research. Can these two very different versions of Isaiah and Jordan learn to get along? And even if they do, can they find a dimension where they can actually live in peace? Zing along on the adventure in Parallel Lives. [Caroline Siede]

25-26. Evelyne Brochu and Rose Byrne star in Sister War

Advertisement

Rose Byrne’s Rayna was undeniably one of the best parts of Spy, but in Sister War, she’ll be on the other side of catching baddies, playing Veronica Dalton, an international super spy called in by the CIA to help track down and stop the most wanted criminal mastermind in the world. The catch? That criminal mastermind is her younger sister, Vivienne Dalton (Evelyne Brochu). Deeply rooted sister politics converge with international politics as an old sibling rivalry reignites and forces Veronica to face her oldest foe. Sister War is directed by Elizabeth Banks. [Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya]

27-28. Elijah Wood and Daniel Radcliffe in Baby Blues

Advertisement

Brothers and best friends Derek (Elijah Wood) and Tom (Daniel Radcliffe) have always been complimented on their beautiful blue eyes. But now these boys are about to get baby blues of a different kind when they both find out their girlfriends are pregnant on the same day. Unmotivated Derek has been dating Laura for six years, but so far he’s been hesitant to tie the knot. Meanwhile uptight Tom has only been on three dates with Stacey and she got pregnant the first time they had sex. These unexpected pregnancies force both brothers to reexamine their lifestyles and realize that coasting through life is as bad as trying to micromanage it. [Caroline Siede]

29-30. Patrick Dempsey and Sean Penn in Ashes

Advertisement

Patrick Dempsey and Sean Penn look more alike than Sean and his late brother Chris. They have very different personas—Dempsey’s McDreamy days have made him a romantic heartthrob, while Penn is the brooding artiste—but why not play to their strengths? Dempsey is the playboy scion of a wealthy family. He’s taken on the role of CEO of his family’s conglomerate, while his older brother (Penn) has been in Africa working on the family’s non-profit arm. Penn returns home to find that his brother has fallen in love with a beautiful do-gooder type (Emmy Rossum) that Penn takes a shining to, but he could never hurt his baby brother, so he stays on the sidelines. Penn and our heroine grow closer, even taking an aid trip to Africa. She declares his love for him, but he declines her advances in the name of family. They were never meant to be, though, as we find our heroine has caught a bug from the aid trip and ends up dying. Penn is devastated, but at the funeral, he listens as his brother gives a rousing, heartfelt eulogy about his deceased love, proving to Penn that he made the right choice. Instead, he heads back to do good in the world. [Molly Eichel]

31-32. Michelle Williams and Carey Mulligan are Sister Sisters

Advertisement

This Oscar-bait melodrama is designed to earn awards buzz for both of its stars, the similarly waifish Michelle Williams and Carey Mulligan. Born in 1930s Germany, these young Jewish sisters were sent away to a convent in the countryside as infants to be raised as Catholic nuns and thus hide from the prying eyes of the SS. Now all grown up in the 1960s, these religious/real-life sisters remember nothing about their past life. When bold Gerda (Williams) begins digging into their family history, she learns her religious identity is far more complicated than she once thought—a truth sheltered Ilse (Mulligan) doesn’t want to hear. [Caroline Siede]

33-34. Mads Mikkelsen and Michael Fassbender star in Blood Brothers

Advertisement

Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen and Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender share a knack for projecting icy, inhuman charm. So let’s take that vibe of chilling seduction to the extreme, and make the two a pair of vampire brothers, bound together by blood and co-dependent need. Fassbender plays Laurent, the more human of the two, whose self-loathing drives him to repeatedly try to end his damned existence. His brother Daniel (Mikkelsen), though, can’t bear the thought of eternity alone, and constantly foils him, using his hypnotically predatory smile to lure victims into the siblings’ ramshackle Victorian mansion to tempt his brother to feed. But in the end, self-destruction wins out, and Laurent stakes himself, while a grief-stricken Daniel burns down the family manor with himself inside, so that their ashes can be together forever in death. [William Hughes]

35-36. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Javier Bardem in The Cruller Of Calamity

Advertisement

The latest quirky comedy from Wes Anderson takes advantage of the fact that Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Javier Bardem basically share the same face by casting them as identical twin brothers. In a stylized opening montage we learn Edmund and Edgar Edwards once did everything together—from learning to walk to going on double dates to getting named top of their class at pastry school. But when a dispute over what to name their bakery (Edmund & Edgar’s or Edgar & Edmund’s) drove a wedge in their relationship, they opened rival pastry shops directly across the street from one another. Although they secretly watch each other through their storefront windows, they haven’t spoken in 10 years. But when a corporate bakery chain called Mr. Cruller’s Cheap Eats opens up down the street and threatens both of their businesses, they have to set aside their differences in order to sabotage it—finally putting bros before dough. [Caroline Siede]

37-38. Zooey Deschanel and Katy Perry star in The Princess And The Pop Star

Advertisement

A live-action adaptation of a 2012 animated Barbie movie, which itself was a recycling of The Prince And The Pauper, Zooey Deschanel defies expectations by playing Glitterati, the film’s titular pop star, whose fame has left her feeling claustrophobic and in dire need of a change. What luck, then, that she crosses paths with Princess Pinot (Katy Perry), who finds that she can barely stand another dreary day of being waited on hand and foot and longs for a lifestyle different from her own. We don’t want to spoil the secret of how two of the most famous people of their respective countries successfully manage to switch places despite the fact that they’re clearly not identical in appearance, but with a soundtrack featuring contributions by both Deschanel and Perry and a supporting cast which includes Larry Miller as Glitterati’s manager, Emma Thompson as Princess Pinot’s handmaiden, and Billy Zane as a member of the paparazzi who’s onto the place-switching scheme, The Princess And The Pop Star is clearly destined to be fun for all ages. [Will Harris]

39-40. Jaime Pressly and Margot Robbie are Soul Sisters

Advertisement

This black comedy starts out like a lame teen sex movie: Sisters Nes (Jaime Pressly) and Becky (Margot Robbie) are all set for a threesome with a crash young Wall Street type until suddenly they unhinge their jaws and suck out his soul. It turns out they’re actually Agnes and Rebekah, two soul-eating demons who have been living amongst humans since medieval times (yup, they were totally hanging out with Vlad The Impaler and stirring up trouble during the Salem witch trials as we see in a flashback montage). But after stumbling across a series of inspirational YouTube videos, Becky has a crisis of faith about whether gleefully killing people is the right way to live a fulfilling life. When she decides to go “vegan” on souls, Nes has to convince her there’s nothing wrong with a little innocent manslaughter. [Caroline Siede]

41-42. Rob Lowe and Ian Somerhalder star in My Turn On The Catwalk

Advertisement

With The Vampire Diaries likely closer to a conclusion than not as a result of Nina Dobrev’s departure, Somerhalder couldn’t pick a better time to get his film career started in earnest, and although Lowe seems to have landed on his feet in the wake of his departure from Parks And Recreationhis new series, The Grinder, premieres on Fox this fall—there’s never a bad time to take another shot at the big screen. That’s why we’ve envisioned this Zoolander-esque comedy about Canyon Carlsbad (Lowe), a retired male model who’s appalled when he learns that his nerdy younger brother Oswald (Somerhalder), a recently-downsized accountant, has belatedly decided to follow in his footsteps and take his turn on the catwalk. While Canyon can’t conceive that his little bro has the goods, he also can’t bear to let him make the attempt without doing everything in his power to help him succeed, lest his own reputation end up tarnished by his brother’s modeling incompetence. Still not sold? Just wait till we sign The Killers to cover Kraftwerk’s “The Model” for the soundtrack. [Will Harris]

43-44. Emma Watson and Kiernan Shipka sing in the musical Double Act!

Advertisement

The erstwhile Hermione and the former Sally Draper might as well be real-life twins and this brand new musical romp takes advantage of that by casting them as Martha and Mattie Flowers, orphaned sisters who earn their keep as pickpockets in Victorian London. It’s the female answer to Oliver! with Kiernan Shipka as the innocent Oliver figure who beguiles targets with her girlish charms while her Artful Dodger-esque big sister (Emma Watson) robs them blind. But when they get caught trying to steal from a sweet young couple longing for a family, the girls’ whole world gets turned upside down—via song! [Caroline Siede]

45-46. Michael Stuhlbarg and Joaquin Phoenix in Two Brothers

Advertisement

Cast against type to great effect, Joaquin Phoenix stars as a high-strung small businessman whose burnout brother (Michael Stuhlbarg, initially wearing a thick, unkempt beard) re-surfaces after years of semi-estrangement. Set in a Russian-Jewish enclave in Brooklyn and lit in a burnished chiaroscuro palette, the film charts the two siblings’ attempts at reconciliation, all while younger brother Max (Phoenix) attempts to sever their family business’ ties with the remains of the local mob, with tragic consequences. Both actors suggest years of buried history through cadence and gesture; obscure passages from Dostoevsky are interpolated throughout. Directed by James Gray. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

47-48. Chris Evans and John Krasinski star in Sib-lebrity Rivalry

Advertisement

Chris Evans and John Krasinski may not share a striking resemblance, but they have the same golly-gee charm and willingness to make fun of themselves that would make them perfect for a Hollywood satire where they play against type. Cocky Brett Endels (Evans) has made it big as the go-to guy for romantic tearjerkers. But when his brash younger brother Jesse (Krasinski) makes the leap from a minor sitcom to one of the biggest blockbusters of the summer (a Guardians Of The Galaxy-esque space opera comedy), the two highly competitive brothers begin a massive sibling/celebrity (sib-lebrity!) rivalry that extends from the box office to their own backyards. [Caroline Siede]

49-50. Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley star in Poetry In Motion

Advertisement

Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman have already come close to a turn as siblings: When she was 12, Knightley’s handmaiden was selected as a decoy for Portman’s Queen Amidala in The Phantom Menace. Supposedly even the actors’ mothers had a hard time telling them apart in costume. Now Portman, as high-powered attorney Bryn Hollingsworth, has to confront some uncomfortable truths about herself when her kid sister Esmé (Knightley) crashes in her swish London flat one summer. Esmé’s bohemian poet grates against Bryn and her fastidious and hard-working lifestyle. But when Bryn finds herself in trouble with the law, her nearly look-alike sister might be her best hope. [Laura M. Browning]

Share This Story