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‘I Know This Much Is True’ Director on Revealing Twins’ Biological Father

Derek Cianfrance (Left) and Mark Ruffalo (Right) on set of HBO’s « I Know This Much Is True »

Warning: This post contains spoilers about the series finale of HBO’s “I Know This Much Is True.”

The sixth and final episode of HBO’s limited series “I Know This Much Is True” aired Sunday, and with it came the surprising reveal of the identity of Dominick and Thomas Birdsey’s biological father.

TheWrap spoke with writer and director Derek Cianfrance, who adapted the screenplay from Wally Lamb’s novel, to learn more about Henry Drinkwater — and why their stepfather, Ray, continued to keep him a secret from them, even years after their mother had died.

“I think he understands that he’s not going to lose Dominick, and that he loves Dominick and Dominick deserves to know. It just comes a time when, I think later in life when people are entering their final chapters, I think a lot of their secrets can come out.”

Ray finally opens up during the nursing home scene, telling Dominick that his father was a Korean War veteran named Henry Drinkwater.

That rules out his biggest fear — that he and his brother might have been born of incest between his abusive grandfather and his mother, Concettina — and also makes Dominick realizes that he’s been cousins with fellow twins Ralph and Penny Ann Drinkwater this entire time.

The big pay-off comes too late for Thomas, whose unexpected death by drowning at the Falls is ruled accidental. However, viewers are given a quick visual cue that the truth, like so much of this story, may not be so innocent — thanks to a brief shot of his socks and shoes neatly folded on a nearby rock.

But despite having just learned the answer to the one question he’s been asking his entire life, by the time Dominick learns the truth,  “he doesn’t need it anymore,” Cianfrance said.

“At that point in the story, I think Dominick has resigned himself that he’s never going to know who his father is,” he said. “For all Ray’s faults… I think Dominick also sees the human there, and he comes to accept Ray for who he is. So when he finally gets the knowledge of his father, he doesn’t need it anymore — but when he gets it, it changes everything for him. I think its a gift. It represents a lot of rage-redemption.”

He opened up about why Ray felt compelled to keep their mother’s secret for so long.

“One of the reasons he probably held that secret for so many years was, one, because the mother never wanted the kids to know — because she thought they would hate her for it,” he said. “She was raised with this idea by her father that what she was doing was terrible and a sin, and yet she loved this guy Henry and she kept it a secret from her father and from everyone, and she made Ray promise not to tell.”

Cianfrance clarified that the Birdsey twins and the Drinkwater twins are cousins because they share a grandfather — Nabby Drinkwater, who worked at the same mill where their maternal grandfather, Domenico Tempesta, was the foreman.

“Before I shot this, I cast Michael Greyeyes as Ralph [Drinkwater], and really asked him about representation in cinema. We sat down and laid out this family tree, and I asked him about the truth of it,” Cianfrance said. “He said something to the effect that… native people have been ignored and overlooked and not recognized for so long, and that from Ralph’s perspective, he knew the truth about who Dominick was, and he always assumed that Dominick knew too, and Dominick would never talk to him about it, and Dominick always felt better than him. Ralph didn’t feel seen by Dominick. From Ralph’s point of view, there was no shame in being connected to this white person, but from [Dominick and Thomas’] mothers and grandfather’s point of view, there was great shame in it. And that’s why it was a secret.”

All six episodes of “I Know This Much Is True” are now streaming on HBO.

22 Actors Who Have Played Their Own Twin, From Lindsay Lohan to Mark Ruffalo (Photos)

It must not be an easy feat to play your own twin, but a surprising amount of actors have done it. From Lindsay Lohan in « The Parent Trap » to Paul Rudd in Netflix’s « Living With Yourself » to Mark Ruffalo in HBO’s new series « I Know This Much Is True » here are 22 stars who have played their own twins, clones, and even split-personalities on TV and in movies.

Netflix

Lindsay Lohan – « The Parent Trap, » « I Know Who Killed Me » Pretty much everyone is familiar with Lohan’s iconic role in ‘The Parent Trap’ remake, but few are familiar with her much more grown-up, darker role in this 2007 psychological thriller in which her she plays two very different versions of a girl named Aubrey Fleming.

Disney

Tom Hardy – « Legend » Hardy plays a pair of famous, real-life English gangster twins, Reggie and Ronnie Kray, in this 2015 crime drama.

YouTube

Armie Hammer – « The Social Network » Who could forget Hammer’s turn as another pair of real-life twins? He played both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, A.K.A. « The Winklevii, » in this 2010 drama starring Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

YouTube

Mark Ruffalo – « I Know This Much Is True » He plays twins Dominick and Thomas Birdsey in the HBO series, the latter of whom is schizophrenic. 

HBO

Nicolas Cage – « Adaptation » Cage stars opposite himself — and Meryl Streep — in this 2002 Spike Jonze film about a struggling screenwriter and his freeloading twin brother.

YouTube

Tatiana Maslany – « Orphan Black »

Maslany plays several different clones in this BBC America series, including Alison Hendricks, Sarah Manning, and Helena.

BBC America

Paul Rudd – « Living With Yourself »

When Rudd’s character accidentally gets himself cloned, he decides to let the other version of himself do the heavy lifting in their shared life. Everything is fine until his wife, and pretty much everyone else in his life, starts liking his clone more than the real him.

Netflix

Jackie Chan – « Twin Dragons »

Chan plans twins who were separated at birth in this 1992 action-comedy.

YouTube

Leonardo DiCaprio – « The Man in the Iron Mask » 

Leo plays both King Louis XIV and his villainous brother, Philippe, in this 1998 film based on the story of « The Three Muskateers. »

YouTube

Christian Bale – « The Prestige »

Bale plays a magician with a big secret. Spoiler alert: Bale’s character is actually just pretending to be a master magician when really his twin brother is helping pull off the tricks behind the scenes.

YouTube

Adam Sandler – « Jack and Jill »

The comedian dressed up as the female version of himself for this 2011 comedy about a twin sister who comes to stay with her brother’s family.

Columbia Pictures

Bette Davis – « Dead Ringer »

Davis plays twins Margaret DeLorca and Edith Phillips in this 1964 thriller. Both sisters are in love with the same man, and they’ll go to crazy lengths to sabotage each other.

YouTube

Edward Norton – « Leaves of Grass »

Norton plays twins Brady and Bill in this 2009 comedy. Bill, believing Brady is dead, goes to Oklahoma — only to get roped into Brady’s drug-dealing scheme.

YouTube

Lily Tomlin and Bette Midler – « Big Business »

Tomlin and Midler play two sets of identical twins who are separated at birth and swapped, so they grew up believing they’re actually fraternal twins from different families. To make it even more confusing, both sets of twins have the same names. 

YouTube

Jeremy Irons – « Dead Ringers »

In this 1988 thriller, Irons plays identical twin gynecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle.

YouTube

Lisa Kudrow – « Friends »

In order to explain why Kudrow had a role on both « Friends » and « Mad About You, » which aired back-t0-back on Thursday nights, they did a little crossover in which they had Kudrow’s character Ursula the waitress from « Mad About You » come on « Friends » as Phoebe’s twin sister.

NBC

JK Simmons – « Counterpart » 

Simmons plays both versions of Howard Silk from alternate realities in this spy series from Starz, which was tragically canceled after just two seasons.

Starz

James McAvoy – « Split »

Ok, so not exactly twins, but McAvoy plays Kevin — and all 23 of his wildly different and terrifying personalities — in this 2017 horror thriller.

Blumhouse

Micheal Keaton – « Multiplicity »

Doug decides to clone himself not once but four times in order to get more things done between his job and his family life.

YouTube

Blake Lively – « A Simple Favor »

Spoiler alert: In this 2018 dark comedic thriller, Lively’s character kills her twin sister by drowning her in a lake.

YouTube

James Marsden – « Dead to Me »

Spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen Season 2: Steve has an identical twin named Ben. And he’s way nicer — and way dorkier — than Steve. But lucky for Marsden, he never has do scenes where both twins are in the same room because Steve is, you know… dead. 

Netflix

Jim Carrey – Me, Myself and Irene

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a by-the-book twin situation, but it’s like he has an evil twin in the same body. Charlie suppressed his anger for so many years that he develops advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage… A.K.A., his alternate personality, Hank.

Netflix

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Plus Paul Rudd, JK Simmons, Edward Norton, and many more

It must not be an easy feat to play your own twin, but a surprising amount of actors have done it. From Lindsay Lohan in « The Parent Trap » to Paul Rudd in Netflix’s « Living With Yourself » to Mark Ruffalo in HBO’s new series « I Know This Much Is True » here are 22 stars who have played their own twins, clones, and even split-personalities on TV and in movies.

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