Nine Actors Who Became Stars Because They Looked Like Someone Else

Jennifer Aniston: cast because she looked like Jennifer Grey

Many stars can thank their famous parents for their entry into show biz (Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie); others work and slave for years with bit parts, failed TV pilots and B-movies before their big break (Robert Mitchum, Sandra Bullock, Jim Carrey); foreign actors often have to prove themselves in their homelands first before being invited to Hollywood (Ingrid Bergman, Jackie Chan, Russell Crowe) and of course there are those who luck out early on (Matthew Broderick, Natalie Portman). This list, however, celebrates those who wouldn't be where they are today if they hadn't happened to look like somebody else. Here's to the lookalikes!

  1. Kate Winslet. As a teen, she appeared in a couple of British commercials and TV episodes, but it was her striking resemblance to teenage murderess Juliet Hulme that won her a lead role in Heavenly Creatures. Her performance got her into Sense and Sensibility. One year later she was at the Oscars. Two years after that came Titanic.
  2. Gary Oldman. This actor occasionally appeared in British TV movies before being cast as lookalike Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy. Since then he has gone on to play many other biographical characters (Oswald, Beethoven, etc.) as well as many scenery-chewing villains.
  3. Jennifer Aniston. Interestingly, Aniston got her big break not by playing a biographical character but for playing a character created by another Jennifer: Jennifer Grey. Aniston was cast as Grey's character Jeanie Bueller in the short-lived TV spinoff of Ferris Bueller's Day Off when Grey, who at the time was a much bigger star, turned it down. Where's Grey now?
  4. Walter Koenig. The actor whose claim to fame is playing Chekov in the Star Trek TV shows, movies, computer games and books was originally cast by Gene Roddenberry in order to attract teenage girls to the original series; he thought Koenig looked like Monkees singer Davy Jones!
  5. David Hyde Pierce. Pierce struggled for years in small parts before Kelsey Grammer's Cheers character got his own spinoff series, Frasier, and the producers looked for someone to play Frasier's brother. Pierce's looks and voice were similar to Grammer's, and that won him the role of the put-upon Niles Crane - and, eventually, three Emmys.
  6. Jennifer Lopez. Slain Latin singer Selena was barely cold in her grave when a biopic was made about her brief life. Lopez, then an unknown actress whose only notable gig was as a "Fly Girl" dancer on In Living Color, was chosen to play Selena. The spotlight hasn't left her since.
  7. Seth Green. The hip costar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Austin Powers movies was first widely seen in Woody Allen's 1986 comedy Radio Days. Though his character wasn't named "Woody Allen", it might as well have been; Green essentially played Allen as a boy and was considered a dead-ringer for the director.
  8. Peter O'Toole. One of England's most treasured thespians, O'Toole got his career kick-started in the mid-'60s thanks to his resemblance to adventurer T. E. Lawrence. Lawrence of Arabia made him a star in the biggest way.
  9. Already famous, but what the hell: Some established stars also happened to look remarkably like other famous people, so when the time came, it seemed natural to cast them in their lookalike roles: Jessica Lange in Frances (as in Frances Farmer); Diane Keaton in Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight, Ed Harris in Pollock (as in Jackson Pollock). Now I'm just waiting for Leelee Sobieski to star in The Helen Hunt Story.