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The character you know and love walks off set on one side, and a couple of seconds later walks in on the other side, only he's wearing different clothes! And talking funny! And everyone's calling him Cousin Rick, not Fred!
For many a reason both solid and sordid, an actor might find themselves playing more than one role on the same show. It might be a twin brother (or cousin, aunt, etc. -- television has never been fussy on the details). A male character may be put in drag to play his own mother, who looks a lot like him. More than a few action shows have had a lookalike try to frame the main character. Whatever the reason, the actor is Acting for Two. Sometimes more, depending on the role.
It happens occasionally in other media as well, but when the same actor plays multiple characters on TV or in a film, it usually has a very specific purpose. In theatre, it's just as often an economic use of talent. Often certain role-pairings become traditional, so for example some film versions of Peter Pan still cast the same actor for Hook and Mr Darling - even though they could afford two actors, and the stage tradition only arose because of their lack of scenes together. Maybe because it seems symbolic of... something.
See Double Vision for a look at how they manage the trick of getting an actor on-screen more than once, when needed.
Understandably this happens a lot in animation, simply by giving the same voice actor multiple roles; see Talking to Himself for that version. Not to be confused with Talking to Themself, in which the actor plays different personalities of a single character in-story.
This particular little ice cream cone comes in several flavors, depending on the purpose, and varying in utility by medium.
This is the polar opposite of Actor Swap.
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