If you go anywhere near social media during the first week of February, you’re sure to see masses of people participating in Doppelgänger Week, that fun little online trend of people who are really oblivious posting images of celebrities they like to imagine they physically resemble.
That’s all well and good, but has anyone ever stopped to consider who those very celebs themselves resemble? In an ironic twist of fate, it turns out the answer is ordinary people!
Not just any old ordinary people, mind you, but people from the past – from the not-too distant to the ancient.
In our celebrity-obsessed culture, we’re also sucker for comparisons – iPhone versus Android, McDonald’s versus Burger King, nature versus nurture, Britney versus Christina… Okay, maybe that last one isn’t so relevant anymore, but the point is we love pitting one thing against another and seeing who ends up coming out on top.
And when the field of battle is manned by celebrities and their historic doppelgängers, well, let’s just say everyone’s a winner. For example, we bet you never realized which historical figure television talk-show host darling Ellen DeGeneres is the reincarnation of, but we’re willing to guarantee you’ll never look at her the same way again.
Read on to discover how celebs from Bruce Willis to Leonardo DiCaprio used time travel to fool us all.
1860s man / John Travolta
E-commerce website Ebay is a pretty magical place. You just never know what you might find if you delve deeply enough: an old family heirloom, a Mr. T action figure from the eighties, a photo of a man from the mid-nineteenth century who’s a dead ringer for John Travolta… Wait, what? That’s right, a Canadian man opened an auction offering to sell a photo from the 1860s. The asking price? A paltry $50,000. That “pocket change” would have gotten you a photo of an unnamed man who admittedly looks quite a bit like Grease and Pulp Fiction star John Travolta. Or, you know, you could see it right here for free. You’re welcome!
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) / Ellen DeGeneres
Naturalist Henry David Thoreau wrote numerous essays about natural history that would serve as precursors to the environmentalism movement. He was a staunch opponent of slavery and offered one of the first arguments for civil disobedience, a notion that would later influence Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Ellen DeGeneres, meanwhile, is… Ellen. She had an eponymous sitcom for five seasons, and voiced Dory in Finding Nemo along with its sequel. She can usually be found on her daytime chat show, which has been on the air for 15 years, and is the second most watched show after Dr. Phil. She’s also apparently a time traveler from the 19th century. Advantage, Ellen.
Mahir Çayan (1946-1972) / Jimmy Fallon
We’re up to our second time traveling talk show host, and this one’s a doozy. In one corner, you have Turkish Communist revolutionary Mahir Çayan. He holed up with nine of his companions in a village near the Black Sea, and – following an armed standoff with the Turkish army and his refusal to surrender – was gunned down. Only two years later, an adorable little baby named James Thomas Fallon was born in Brooklyn, New York. He went on to star in Saturday Night Live, and later succeeded Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. Victory, comrade!
Reddit user’s great-grandfather / Johnny Depp
Okay, this one’s downright creepy. These two don’t just look alike, they have to be the same person. A Reddit user submitted the photo of their great-grandfather to one of the site’s forums, suggesting that he looked kind of familiar. Um, yeah, your ancestor was clearly Johnny Depp. Is the Hollywood icon really a time-traveling wizard of some sort? We’re not 100 percent sure, but it would go a long way in explaining the authenticity of his roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and Sweeney Todd. Not the Lone Ranger, though. No one can explain that one.
Zubaida Tharwat (1940-2016) / Jennifer Lawrence
Egyptian silver screen icon Zubaida Tharwat was said to have possessed “the most beautiful eyes in classic Egyptian cinema.” Her doppelgänger Jennifer Lawrence has some of the most beautiful eyes in young Hollywood. Sure, if you want to get technical about it, the film legend from the land of the pyramids only passed away two years ago – meaning she was alive for long after the Hunger Games star was born – but come on, the resemblance is uncanny. Zubaida or Jennifer, we’d volunteer as tribute for them any day.
Judy Zipper (1960) / Leonardo DiCaprio
So, a Tumblr user was going through his grandmother’s old high school yearbook – as one does – and did a double-take. When he saw the young woman, named Judy Zipper, in a photo from 1960, you might say his heart almost didn’t go on. He really had that sinking feeling. It was an authentic titanic moment for him. Okay, we’ll stop now. But seriously, tell us you took one glance at that photo and didn’t see a young, slightly girly Leo DiCaprio.
Reddit user’s dad / Matt Damon
Another internet user, another old photo album. This particular guy must have been looking through old family albums when he chanced upon pictures from his parents’ wedding day in 1961. He posted the photo to Reddit, and the internet proceeded to go absolutely bananas over the fact that his dad looked almost exactly like the Talented Mr. Ripley himself, Matt Damon. The photo was said to have been snapped in “suburban Seattle,” and the user revealed his folks remained happily married until his mother passed away in 2015. Reddit called shenanigans, and asked Mr. Damon to quit horsing around.
Harlem man (late 1930s) / Jay-Z
This photo isn’t even surprising. It shows a photo – posted by the New York Public Library – of a man lounging, taken sometime in the late 1930s right after the fabled Harlem Renaissance and next to it, we have rapper and Mr. Beyoncé, Jay-Z. While Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, isn’t from Harlem, he was born not too far away in the infamous Marcy projects of Brooklyn. The period of the so-called renaissance birthed a new era of African-American artistic expression, and we imagine this trailblazing rapper – and his crooner wife – would’ve fit right in.
Someone’s dad (1970s) / Michael C. Hall
Dexter and Six Feet Under star Michael C. Hall has a very distinct look, one that you may not expect to be replicated by anyone else in Hollywood. That’s fine, because the dad pictured here along with his son is not from Hollywood (presumably). Once again, the similarity between the two is so striking that we kind of want to call the police on him, just in case he has some dark secrets.
A Tennessee man (1870s) / Nicolas Cage
Another Ebay find, this photo of a time-traveling Nic Cage might have been yours for only $1 million. The photo, the seller claimed, was of a man living in Bristol, Tennessee around the time of the Civil War. He further hypothesized that the actor was, in fact, an undead vampire. This was also one of the only instances of the person in question actually commenting about the issue. In an appearance on David Letterman’s talk show, Cage admitted that, “There is a resemblance, but it’s a somewhat slowed-down version of me.” Still, he denied being a vampire.
Someone’s great-grandmother / Jimmy Kimmel
Are all late night talk show hosts time traveling demons? It would certainly seem that way, as Jimmy Kimmel Live! host Jimmy Kimmel is the spitting image of a Reddit user’s great-grandmother. While no additional details about the woman pictured are available, one Reddit commenter weighed in saying she looks like, “Jimmy Kimmel with a middle class bird family settled on his head.” At least these days his hairdo is slightly more conservative – as is his choice of clothes.
Paul Revere (1735-1818) / Jack Black
“Listen, my children, and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of… Jack Black?” It seems like the famed Revolutionary War hero and silversmith Paul Revere, whose 1775 “midnight ride” to warn the colonists of approaching British forces became legend, went on to star in School of Rock and – more recently – Jumanji. Oh, you don’t think this hero immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem is the same person as one half of rock group Tenacious D? Have you ever seen them both in the same place at the same time? We rest our case.
Hajj Amin al-Husseini (1897-1974) / Ryan Gosling
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the grand mufti of our hearts are one and the same. Yes, it seems unlikely that this leader of the early Palestinian nationalist movement and Canadian heartthrob Ryan Gosling are really the same person but… just look at them. In fact, we wouldn’t be overly surprised to find out that the Mufti starred on the Disney Channel’s The Mickey Mouse Club when he was a kid too.
Confederate soldier / Jerry O’Connell
Listen, we’re not saying the Civil War was rife with time traveling celebrities… but we’re not saying it wasn’t, either. In this particular instance, we have a young man who fought in the war on the Confederate side, and his future version, Stand by Me star Jerry O’Connell. This one kind of makes sense, actually, if you remember his show Sliders from the mid-nineties. For all we know, he slid into a parallel universe where the Civil War was still raging, stayed just enough to have a photo snapped, and scurried away.
English miner turned criminal (1870s) / Justin Timberlake
Ten-time Grammy Award winner, international film star… convicted felon? This photo – taken sometime between 1871 and 1873 – shows a 19-year-old Liverpool-born miner by the name of Charles Burns, who was sentenced to three months in a Newcastle jail after being convicted of false pretenses. Kind of ironic, considering the false pretense was apparently posing as singer and actor extraordinaire Justin Timberlake. What would his wife Jessica Biel say of her husband’s misspent youth? Cry me a river indeed.
Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) / Bruce Willis
This one is a no-brainer. In the history of warfare, there’s no greater tough guy than Douglas MacArthur, a World War Two Medal of Honor recipient. In Hollywood, there’s no greater tough guy than Die Hard’s Bruce Willis. Need we say more? Okay, a little more: MacArthur was one of only five men to become a General of the Army and the only man to be a Philippine Army field marshal. Sure, Willis was born in 1955 – while MacArthur was still alive – but they were both the kings of one-liners: from “I shall return” to “Yippee ki-yay…”
Doña Carmen Arconada (1940) / Michael Cera
This Spanish lady, depicted here in a painting by her fellow countryman artist Ignacio Zuloaga, bears more than a passing resemblance to Arrested Development and Superbad star Michael Cera. The Spaniard serving as the painting’s subject certainly has down to a science that trademark awkward half-grin Cera has perfected. It’s true what they say in that old hit song by Doris Day, we guess: Que, Cera? Cera.
Harvey Twitchell (1840-1905) / Conan O’Brien
We promise this is the last late night talk show host we’re going to feature here. It’s also the last Civil War figure – this time Union Army soldier and Louisiana State Senator Harvey Twitchell, who by all accounts later became the ginger host who’s currently the longest-serving late night figure on television. Not-so-fun fact: in 1876, an assassin armed with a rifle tried to kill Twitchell. He failed, but both of the former soldier’s arms were amputated above the elbow as a result. And you thought hecklers were bad…
Man from 1511 fresco / Sylvester Stallone
In this Raphael fresco, the man standing innocently in the wings next to Pope Gregory IX seems suspiciously familiar. It’s the Italian Stallion himself – Sly Stallone. Just go ahead and try to tell us this doesn’t make sense. They’re both Italian and they both have that patented curled lip. The fresco is currently housed at the Vatican in Rome, not the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but we’re sure he ran up those steps all the same, and posed at the top.
Kari Lewis / Emma Watson
This one’s a story that’s kind of heartwarming. Kari Lewis, a 28-year-old mom from Indianapolis, has been getting stopped on the street by Harry Potter fans all the time since the first movie came out, as she is routinely mistaken for Hermione herself – Emma Watson. It’s no surprise, as she’s a dead ringer for the young British star. Kari takes it all in good fun, and even appears at different cons around the world dressed as either Hermione or Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Accio, fame!