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Identical twins on TV

Identical twins on TV — We help you figure out which Laurance brother is on which program

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Let’s make something doubly clear: Matthew Laurance is an actor who often plays mensch-like men who often wear wire-rim glasses. As David Silver’s dentist dad, he’ll marry Kelly’s recovering substance-abuser mom (now pregnant with his child) May 7 on the season finale of Beverly Hills, 90210. For three years he also starred as Ben Coleman on the late-’80s Fox sitcom Duet.

Matthew looks exactly like but should not be confused with Mitchell Laurance, the actor who often plays lawyers who often wear wire-rim glasses. He was defense counsel for a neo-Nazi kid on Reasonable Doubts in March; he was also a probate lawyer for Nanny Peyton’s dead husband in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, and a practicing attorney who never passed the bar two seasons ago on L.A. Law.

Matthew played the aggressive magazine journalist paired with Melissa Steadman on assignment in L.A. in two of the final episodes of thirtysomething. Mitchell made the phone-booth call to Phoenix and got connected to Fiji instead in a long-running AT&T TV commercial.

Mitchell’s the older one, by four minutes. He loves golf. Matthew’s the younger one. He adores golf.

Other than that, the 42-year-old actors are as different as identical twins born Mitchell and Matthew Dickoff who grew up on New York’s Long Island and who both graduated from Tufts University and who both chose a profession where their faces and names are regularly blurred into one presence by most of America can be.

”At times I hate the fact that Matthew’s here,” says Mitchell, the more introspective one. ”We have moments of closeness and a lot of times of conflict.”

”If you have to pick a business not to go into with an identical twin, this is it,” says Matthew, the more gregarious one. ”We didn’t talk for a long time.”

Mitchell’s the one from the early-’80s HBO comedy Not Necessarily the News. He has done a lot of guest-star stuff on TV series like Matlock and MacGyver. Matthew was the struggling musician in the early-’80s movie Eddie and the Cruisers. He has done a lot of supporting-role stuff in movies like Sibling Rivalry and St. Elmo’s Fire and Prince of the City.

If you want to see them act together, try to get hold of the episode of 1990’s Cop Rock in which they played twin ad execs called — ooh, a thirtysomething ha ha! — Michael and Elliot. Or go through your collected tapes of this season’s The Commish for the episode in which they played twin murder suspects. (Who’s who detail: While shooting a scene in which he had to jump a fence, Mitchell sprained his ankle. So Matthew filled in for a rearview camera shot the next day.) Earlier this month, there was room for the two of them on ABC’s Room for Two.

If you want to interview them, they want to meet you separately.

”Matthew was the actor. I was in photography school in Boston. When I got into acting, we figured we’d never see each other again,” says Mitchell, who moved from New York to L.A. in 1980. ”I was the one who did plays first,” says Matthew, who moved from New York to L.A. in 1981. Now they’re seeing each other again. In fact, Mitchell and Matthew may be seeing a lot more of each other soon: Producer Blake Edwards (Switch) is working up a TV series for the two of them and their fellow twins Liz and Jean Sagal, sisters of Married…With Children‘s Katey Sagal.

”Doing a series will be very intense,” says Matthew.

”Part of what makes me unique is that I’m an identical twin,” says Mitchell.

Any questions?