Sometimes it takes a double look and a squint to realize the character on screen isn’t the real McCoy. When the casting director gets it right and finds the actor who turns out to be eerily perfect for the role, it makes doppelgänger history. Oscars, promising careers, endorsement deals and even a star on the Walk of Fame can all come from the role that felt all too real for audiences. The pressure to play someone great, from their features to their body language, is no easy feat. Think about on a scale from Zoe Saldaña as Nina Simone to Jennifer Lopez as Selena, how many movie homage’s have gone wrong. It’s not easy to find a needle in a haystack, but we found the ten that worked perfectly on screen.
Salma Hayak – Frida
It was more than just the eyebrows that we fell in love with. Salma Hayak brought Frida Kahlo to life in the 2002 film Frida, a film on the art and love of the surrealist Mexican artist. Hayak not only has the perfect frame to play Frida but has been a long-time fan of her work. The role won her an Oscar nod and made her one of the best doppelgängers in uni-brow history.
Jennifer Lopez – Selena
The multi-talented phenom that is J.Lo all started with Jennifer Lopez’s insanely popular role as Selena Quintanilla in Selena. Fully equipped with the Selena nose wrinkle and curvy dance moves, J.Lo did the cumbia right into movie history with her surreal Selena portrayal. The role put the actress on the scene, showing women everywhere the right way to wear a bustier. Lopez still pays respect, singing classic Selena songs at her concerts and making us fall in love all over again. Viva Selena!
Lou Diamond Phillips – La Bamba
Playing Latino-rock pioneer Ritchie Valens, Lou Diamond Phillips was no marinero when it came to La Bamba. The breakthrough role matched the breakthrough in music Valens created in fronting the Chicano rock movement. Transforming Mexican folk into late 50’s rock mainstream at the age of 17 put Valens forever in pop/rock and roll history. Two simple words never created such a buzz like La Bamba, gaining critical acclaim for Phillips and another standing ovation for Valens.
Madonna – Evita
Infamously known for her performance as Eva Perón in Evita, Madonna graced through the roaring crowds with poise. Pre-Golden Globe win for the role, Madge faced uproar for claims she was too controversial to play such a widely popular political icon. But when one blonde bombshell met another, it was movie magic and doppelgänger history. Only Madonna could work the classic 50’s pin up do and the complementary pencil skirt, often worn by Argentina’s First Lady of fashion.
Michelle Rodriquez – Tropico de Sangre
Before she was the ultimate wingman Michelle Rodriguez played Minerva Mirabal, one third of the rebel trio in the small production Trópico de Sangre. The Mirabal sisters not only represented the political and socially oppressed of the Dominican Republic, but made it their life’s work to stand against the country’s dictator Rafael Trujillo. Minerva, the youngest of the three, was said to be feisty and passionate which pretty much says Michelle Rodriguez all over it.
Edward James Olmos – In the Time of the Butterflies
Playing the role of Trujillo in the better known film In the Time of the Butterflies, was stern facedEdward James Olmos. The father figure we have all come to know and love, has a look that can kill and the baritone that could bring down an army. The Mexican-American actor has cemented his legacy among the Latino community and it was a no brainer to cast him as El Jefe. Four years prior, he played another boss of the family as Abraham Quintanilla in Selena.
Marc Anthony – El Cantante
It’s every Puerto Rican’s dream: the return of Hector Lavoe. From the first step on the stage to the first note on the mic, Marc Anthony commanded your attention as the classic salsero Hector Lavoe in El Cantante. He won over generations before him who grew up in el barrio listening to Lavoe, and still managed to swoon his hardcore fan base that have been down since the 90’s. The film was soundtracked by Anthony but styled by Lavoe. From the dark glasses to the shirt collars, the role was a shining moment for both Puerto Rican cantantes.
Gael Garcia Bernal – Fidel
Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal could write the book on How to be Che 101. He played the revolutionary Che Guevara in Fidel in 2002 and The Motorcycle Diaries in 2004. Both films were highlighted by Bernal’s rebel like swag and stature that was very Guevara-esque. “Che has so much to do with your ideals as a young man. His mythification, Che the icon, is not three-dimensional”, Bernal told the Daily News during the movies release. “With the film, we wanted to bring that character closer to ourselves.”
Javier Bardem – Before Night Falls
Javier Bardem played Cuban gay poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas in the autobiography turned film Before Night Falls. Cuban born Arenas ended up revolting against the politics that raised him to publish works of his writings. To prepare for the role Bardem spent months in New York, with Arenas’ partner fully delving in to the life and art of the poet. The part rightfully earned Bardem an Oscar nod with his powerful portrayal of the short but sweet life of Arenas.
Zona de Sabor’s Perfect Match: Brightening up any TV screen with her bubbly personality, 19 years young Disney star Raini Rodriguez already has the makings of a Court Supreme Justice doppelgänger. Any future bio flicks on Sonia Sotomayor would be perfect for the Austin and Ally star, who could play the Bronx native to a T. She has the perfect mix of sass and smarts for the role and the energy to command to stage or the courtroom.