Are Liv and Maddie Real Twins? We Reveal How They Film the Disney Show

Michael Schneider
Disney Channel

Liv and Maddie

Just like The Patty Duke Show 50 years ago, Disney Channel's identical twins comedy Liv and Maddie relies on a few visual tricks -- and a couple of look-alike extras -- to pull off the premise.

Star Dove Cameron plays both Liv and Maddie, mismatched twin teen sisters (one of whom returns home after a stint in Hollywood) readjusting to living together under one roof.

QUIZ: Which TV Twins Are Played by Real Twins?

In a new promo scheduled to start airing later this month on Disney Channel, the network is finally sharing the show's behind-the-scene production secrets with viewers. In the spot, Cameron's two acting body doubles, Emmy Buckner ("Liv 2") and Shelby Wulfert ("Maddie 2"), are revealed for the first time.

"To make one girl look like two girls it actually takes three girls," Cameron says. "And wigs are completely necessary to create the visual difference between me as Liv and me as Maddie," plus wardrobe and other tweaks.

Executive producers John D. Beck and Ron Hart say they've been conscious of not treating the fact that Cameron plays both roles as a gimmick. The process itself hasn't changed much from the days of The Patty Duke Show or Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap.

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To get the shot, a camera is kept is a stationery position, as Cameron performs Liv on one side of the screen, then goes through her transformation via wardrobe, hair, and make-up, returns and performs Maddie on the other side of the screen. The backs of Buckner's and Wulfert's heads are used to add to the illusion that they are filming twins. It all gets stitched in post-production.

"The camera trickery is not what makes our show work, we are driven by the extraordinary performance Dove gives each week," Hart says. She plays two characters and creates the relationship between them. We never think of Emmy and Shelby as 'photo doubles.' They are Dove's scene partners and a critical piece in creating what ends up getting on the air."

In the next original episode of Liv and Maddie, "Rate-A-Rooney," the show will tackle the subject of bullying. In the episode, the sisters and their friends confront a classmate who has been rating them based on their looks. The episode airs on Sunday, February 8 at 9/8c.

Here's the behind-the-scenes Liv and Maddie promo, set to start running on February 15.

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