How would you react if you came face-to-face with your doppelgänger?
Chances are you’ve had more than one person say how strikingly you look like someone else. With almost 8 billion people in the world, there has to be someone you kind-of-sort-of look like, right?
In most social situations, I can usually expect one new person I meet to tell me they can’t place my face or that I look like someone they know. They’ve often shown me photos as proof and the resemblance can be bizarrely similar.
Yet, I’ve never met my could-be twin in the wild. Most of us haven’t.
But three millennials in Ireland, who hold on to the belief that there are seven people in the world who look like each of us, are dead-set on finding and meeting their real-life doppelgängers in the flesh.
Niamh Geaney, Terence Manzanga, and Harry English are days away from wrapping up their month-long social media campaign and project, “Twin Strangers,” which has received more than a fair share of convincing submissions, not just slight similarities.
Within two weeks, the project was receiving over 6,000 submissions a day. After sifting through the overwhelming number, the group of friends began sharing the most compelling candidates with their followers.
But Geaney was the first—and only—to meet her doppelgänger in real life.
In the video footage of Geaney’s first encounter with Karen, the two could not stop looking at one another—and neither could we. While there is a significant height difference between the two and Geaney’s hair is a slightly darker color, the shapes of their faces, eyes, nose, and teeth are similar. They really could pass as twins in photos or, at the very least, relatives.
“Since you got out of the car, I haven’t stopped looking at you,” Geaney told Karen. “It’s really weird. She probably looks closer than some of my sisters,” she said to the camera, laughingly.
The two then put on makeup to try to really make themselves look like each other, and although—yes—they look similar, the size and shape of their faces is sufficiently different to not make a perfect match.
The other two have yet to meet their matches, though they’ve also had rather eerily close candidates.
The trio is hardly the first to be fascinated by the possibility of “twin strangers.”
In 1839, Edgar Allan Poe pitted the narrator of “William Wilson” against his exact double, who he meets at boarding school. Charles Dickens included doppelgängers in his 1859 Tale of Two Cities. It’s the main plot in Vladimir Nabokov’s 1934 Despair and Muriel Spark’s 2000 Aiding and Abetting.
Blockbuster films as recent as 2010’s Black Swan have hinted at some version of the fascination. It’s also the shocking plotline of The Prestige, Adaption and Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic thriller, Vertigo.
The doppelgänger has most recently migrated to television in the drama-filed plotline of television soap opera, The Young and the Restless. Jack Abbot’s doppelgänger, who could also be a twin/clone/alien/dream (you really never know with Y&R), has been wrecking havoc on his life and is sure to stir up a lot of commotion in upcoming weeks.
All of these instances are fictional, of course.
Last year, the morning news joined in on the fun. ABC’s Good Morning America hosted a contest to find physical copies of four of the show’s anchors who then-hosted the show—Lara Spencer, Josh Elliott, Sam Champion, and Robin Roberts.
Spencer’s match was the same height, body type, hairstyle, and personality, while Elliot’s and Champion’s counterparts had them bustling with laughter and surprise despite certain major differences—Champion’s doppelgänger was quite a bit younger.
But Roberts’s was the most shocking of all—she jumped back in shock when the mirror revealed an almost identical woman. Surprisingly, the two were born four months apart in the Southern United States.
Early last year, I profiled Canadian photographer François Brunelle, who has been pairing and photographing look-alike strangers from around the world since 2000. In one especially uncanny instance, Brunelle shot two strangers who were both married to women named Francine and had sons of similar ages.
In 2011, UK-based journalist Sophie Robehmed began a worldwide quest for her very own look-alike. After more than two years of searching, she finally came face-to-face with her doppelgänger, who was a friend’s former coworker.
The very real fascination continues as the world continues to watch these doppelgänger quests.
While we may not all have the time to seek out our own “twin stranger,” Geaney, Manzanga, and English are in talks with the UK’s Channel 4 to create a television series based on their pursuits.
Keep your eyes open: You could be next.