Graphic of a two-headed lizard from eXistenZ

Transcript: Dead Ringers: Costuming

DENISE CRONENBERG: At first, in reading the script, I just thought, “Oh, hospital,” and was just counting on doing ordinary green hospital gowns. And then as the film went along, David said, "You know, I think, really, that this scene needs something more.” And he said, “I think it should be red.” And I said, “What?!” And then he said, “And it should be something... You know… Maybe with a religious overtone or something.” And this was something that developed as we shot. So, I designed the style of it. We couldn’t get enough red material then, so we bought a ton of material and dyed it to get that really deep red. And we made it all and that’s how it happened.

The two young twins, when they were young, I did them after what David wore in the 50’s. From our photo albums. The breeches, the jacket, the t-shirt. And glasses, which he wore when he was very young. So that was exactly that. Just an added touch. (CHUCKLES) Jeremy’s a wonderful actor. I enjoyed working with him a lot. We talked about it. I, in reading the script, decided on how they could look. One being much more formal, wearing suits, and the other being more relaxed. And how that would work. I talked to David about it. And then I went out and got all the costumes for this. I don’t remember if I talked to him on the phone or not, it was a long time ago. But when he came, we had one side of the room for one of the twins and the other side for the other. And I had a rail of costumes on each. And sometimes we’d take one from one and put one - you know, we worked that way. And he was happy. It worked really well. Also the way the hair was done and also because of his acting. I mean, he was extraordinary. He actually became the other character.

I did research for that a bit. They were based on real twins, in New York. Gynecologists. And, so, I couldn’t see any research, but just even reading some of it helped me.

JEREMY IRONS: Well, film is an illusion; we’re creating a world that doesn’t exist. And the added illusion of Dead Ringers really, sort of tickles my fancy. The fact that there are two identical twins both played by the same actor. And I think that gives one a huge opportunity.

I remember searching towards how you do that. And when we prepared it, we shot on two separate days for the two different costumes for the two different guys. I had different dressing rooms for each one. And I think on day two, when we saw the rushes of the day before – I mean, remember in those days, we didn’t have video, where you could immediately check – we’re sitting watching them, and I said to David and to Peter Sus, “This is hopeless.” I said, “Anyone can tell the difference between these two. You’ll never confuse them. They’re just - you know...”

And I then had to find a way to play two people – one person playing two people – those two people who could be confused for each other. But who were different. I found an internal switch, and then mixed all their clothes up, and was able to switch internally from one to the other. Then, when I had to play one of them pretending to be the other, I would do the external mannerisms that I sort of knew about without changing the internal switch. So that, hopefully, the audience would be able to see.

And, that process I think is really interesting, and I suppose it’s work that as an actor you don’t often get the chance to do. And that’s really why I’m proud of what Peter, David, and I came up with.