The Dead Ringers movie follows two identical twin gynecologists, Beverly Mantle and Elliot Mantle, both played by Jeremy Irons. The doctors find themselves seducing and passing around their patients. They begin to lose their minds to lust and addictions when one of the brothers falls in love with Claire Niveau, played by Canadian actress, Geneviève Bujold. Released in 1988, Norman Snider and David Cronenberg co-wrote this Canadian film and Cronenberg directed. Check out the Dead Ringers screen facts below.
Based on a True Story
Dead Ringers’ true story is loosely based on Stewart and Cyril Marcus, both practicing gynecologists in New York City. At age 45, in 1975, the identical twin brothers were found dead in one of their Manhattan homes. Their deaths were speculation of barbiturate abuse and withdrawal combined with deteriorating mental illness over time.
Bari Wood and Jack Geasland wrote the book Twins, published in1977, inspired by this true story. Twins was the literary work adapted into the Dead Ringers screenplay.
Dual Lead Role
Actor Jeremy Irons played both lead characters. He used various methods to distinguish playing each brother. Irons played one role on the balls of his feet and the other on the heels. He had two separate dressing rooms and wardrobes for each character. While filming, Jeremy realized the audience was supposed to be confused about which brother was on screen; lines between brothers became blurred as the plot progressed. Each brother represented one half of a whole; alter egos to each other. To add to this confusion, Jeremy had his wardrobes combined into a single dressing room for both characters.
Alexander technique is a body posture method used to balance and realign the spine and movement in functional motions for different outcomes. Irons relied most on the ball/heel technique and other Alexander methods to differentiate between characters.
Third Choice: Jeremy Irons
William Hurt and Robert De Niro were both offered the lead, dual role before it went to Jeremy. Hurt turned it down due to filming conflicts, while De Niro turned it down because he felt uncomfortable acting as a gynecologist.
Dead Ringers Name
While in production, the film’s working title was: Gemini, but the production studio wanted a different name. They used the book, Twins’, name until Director Ivan Reitman approached David Cronenberg and purchased the title for the 1988 film, Twins, starring Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The name eventually became Dead Ringers.
Dead Ringers explores duality, individuality, eroticism, deception and narcissism. It follows an already dark plot of doctors taking advantage of their patients and professional associates. Each twin drawing on their strengths to fulfil their joint desires, often operating as one or each other.
Audiences must ask hard questions: “What in life is real?” “Does success equal happiness?” “The more we control, do we fall easier?” “Does having a partner in crime make things simpler?” “What happens when our partnerships shift?”
We see the slippery slope of stature and how easy it is to take advantage of the trust it brings, how relationships deteriorate when established on co-dependency. When one co-dependant wants more, addictive natures transition to new dependencies, these doctors fell apart when romantic love entered the equation. Suddenly sex and drugs became standard and messed with their established equilibrium.
Dead Ringers is a thought-provoking film with high entertainment value. With a 1988 release date, the production was ahead of its time.