Actor plays twins for children’s Spiderwick series



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Freddie Highmore stars as polar-opposite twins Simon and Jared in The Spiderwick Chronicles.


Never one to shy away from a challenge, British teenager Freddie Highmore was seeing double on the set of his latest film.

The 15-year-old, who only recently starred in the drama August Rush, is once again headlining a major motion picture, but this time around playing duel roles as twins in the cinematic adaptation of the children’s series The Spiderwick Chronicles.

The film condenses the five books in the Spiderwick series and follows the Grace family — mother Helen played by Weeds’ Mary-Louise Parker, the slightly domineering older sister Mallory (In America’s Sarah Bolger) and Highmore as polar-opposite twins Jared and Simon — as they move into a house once occupied by their great aunt Lucinda (Oscar-nominee Joan Plowright) and their great-great uncle Arthur Spiderwick (Good Night, And Good Luck’s David Strathairn).

When Jared inadvertently uncovers a well-guarded family secret, an entire world of frightening and fantastic creatures is unleashed and the family is forced to unite to find their way out of a very unpleasant predicament.

For Highmore, who took conducting and guitar lessons for August Rush, the technical aspects of the shoot were all just part of a day’s work, but there were still a few quirks to playing two characters at virtually the same time, namely rapid —and potentially tricky — transitions between Jared and Simon.

“I think the thing that first attracted me to the role was the chance to play twins and do different things,” Highmore says.

“I guess I didn’t get too confused,” he says of the requirements of playing duel roles and literally switching between brothers — including lighting-fast wardrobe changes — in minutes to maintain consistency and ensure lighting continuity between scenes.

Such are the challenges that keep the youngster excited as his Hollywood status continues its fast-paced ascent into A-list orbit.

After gaining notoriety in director Marc Forster’s critically acclaimed 2004 film Finding Neverland, Highmore’s calendar has been packed with projects, including a starring role as the titular character alongside Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka in director Tim Burton’s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory in 2005.

His young fans can rest easy — the avid Arsenal soccer fan has no plans to quit show business any time soon, but he stresses education is an important part of his future.

Perhaps that emphasis to maintain a foothold in school comes partly from wizardly places. Highmore counts Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe as one of his friends and someone who has provided him with some sage advice, namely to keep pursuing roles that interest him.

“If you work hard, the opportunity might present itself to you (to keep acting), it might be fun to continue as long as it’s different roles and not always doing the same thing.”

  • The Spiderwick Chronicles opens in theatres tomorrow.