There's a ton of great movies where one character is shared by two different actors. For example, in the upcoming Rian Johsnon-directed sci-fi action thriller Looper the main character Joe is played by both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. In anticipation of this amazing looking movie Complex has created a Top 10 list of best performances by actors that share a role.
I've included five of the ten entries below, so make sure to head on over to Complex to see the complete top 10 list, and let us know if you can think of any other performances in which two actors played the same character!
Star Trek: Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto
There was a lot of pressure on the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, with rabid Trekkies on one end ready to pounce at any transgression over the franchise's folklore, and nerd-bashers on the other simply ready to dismiss the film as a boring pit stop in dorkville. But director J.J. Abrams pulled things off handily, thanks in no small part to the work of Zachary Quinto as a young Spock, whose half-human DNA begets him much more fiery emotion (subdued though it may be) than other Vulcans. Halfway through the film, Chris Pine's Captain Kirk stumbles across an older version of Spock (played by the original and legendary Leonard Nimoy, now 81 years old, and here credited technically as "Spock Prime"), who reveals that he accidentally time traveled due to a mysterious space lightning storm (just go with it). In a moment that will live in nerdfamy, the ending of the film has an encounter between Mr. Nimoy and Mr. Quinto, who holds his own incredibly well up against the man who taught us all to "live long and prosper."
Sleepers: Brad Pitt, Brad Renfro, et al.
There are definitely six degrees to Kevin Bacon's creepiness in Barry Levinson's 1996 film, which is based on a book by Lorenzo Carcaterra that may or may not be a true story. The film features a quartet of childhood friends who, after a careless accident, are sent to the worst home for wayward boys since Oliver Twist (actually, worse—the only thing Oliver had to deal with was not getting more porridge). The film is split between the four boys' childhood and the period of time when they are reunited as adults after two of them seek revenge against Bacon's less-than-lovely character. Brad Pitt, Jason Patric, Ron Eldard and Billy Crudup play the adult versions of the crew, with Joe Perrino, the late Brad Renfro, Geoffrey Wigdor and Jonathan Tucker (who later became a fave of director Paul Haggis) portraying their respective childhood versions.
Fight Club: Brad Pitt and Edward Norton
From a vengeful D.A. to the coolest alter-ego you could ever imagine, Brad Pitt famously played Tyler Durden in David Fincher's 1999 cult classic Fight Club, based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk. Edward Norton plays the film's other lead, referred to only as "Narrator" in the credits, who, together with Pitt's Tyler, founds an underground fight club with only two rules: you do not talk about it and you do not talk about it. The twist to the film is that Tyler and the Narrator are the same person, with Pitt's character merely being a personality created by Norton's because of his own insecurities (we hope we're not spoiling this, it's been a 13 years).
Goodfellas: Ray Liotta and Christopher Serrone
As far back as the late Henry Hill could remember, he always wanted to be a gangster. Thus begins Martin Scorsese's 1990 masterpiece, robbed at the Oscars by Dances With Wolves (yeah, let that sink in). In the film, Henry is predominantly played by the ever-slimy, always intimidating Ray Liotta. But for the first chunk of the movie, which includes some of its best scenes (the mailman getting his head stuck in the oven, Paulie exclaiming "you broke your cherry," the list goes on and on) Henry is played by Christopher Serrone, who is a good match for Liotta, not only because of his blue eyes, but also because of his subdued innocence (very soon to be lost) and flawed nice guy appeal.
The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II: Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro
Okay, we're bending the rules here a bit to cover the same iconic role that stretches across two iconic pictures. Marlon Brando won the Best Actor Oscar in 1973 for his portrayal of Don Vito Corleone, and just one year later, Robert DeNiro won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for portraying a younger version of Vito in The Godfather, Part II (a film that is geniously both prequel and sequel). This marked not just the only time that two different actors won an Oscar for playing the same role, but also the only time that both said actors didn't show up for their respective Oscar ceremonies.