Netflix thriller 'Echoes': Michelle Monaghan underestimated challenge of playing twins

Michelle Monaghan took on two roles in one for the latest Netflix thriller Echoes, playing twins Leni and Gina, alongside co-stars Matt Bomer, Karen Robinson, Jonathan Tucker and Daniel Sunjata.

The foundation for the story is that Leni and Gina have been secretly swapping lives for years, which created a double life, essentially sharing two homes, two husbands, and a child. But when one of the sisters goes missing, their twin life starts to unravel.

“I really decided to start with the foundational trauma of them having lost their mom, and how they shared different truths surrounding that, and what really happened,” Michelle Monaghan told Yahoo Canada. “I let those different perspectives inform who they were as women and how that might impact them characteristically, energetically, emotionally.”

“With that in mind, I used that as the baseline to develop Leni from beginning to end, and then I went into the same process with Gina. So after I kind of went through that process, I was able to really jump into their skin quite easily, just by doing the switch, literally, on a daily basis.”

Michelle Monaghan as Gina and Leni McCleary in episode 102 of Echoes. (Courtesy of Netflix)
Michelle Monaghan as Gina and Leni McCleary in episode 102 of Echoes. (Courtesy of Netflix)

While Monaghan is a seasoned star from shows The Path and True Detective, and movies like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, for example, the actor admitted that she “underestimated” the technical side of playing twins.

“The different cameras and the timing, and working opposite myself, working with a body double and another actor, a tennis ball sometimes, all of those little things were things that I didn't anticipate, but continued on that challenge,” Monaghan said.

An interesting aspect of Echoes and one of the real differences between the two women, is their relationship with daughter Mattie (Gable Swanlund). Something we don’t see often, Leni actually isn’t very maternal, while Gina really enjoys the time she gets to be mom.

“One of them is very maternal, has a deep, deep connection with Mattie and the other, not so much,” Monaghan said. “The way that I presented that to myself creatively was that…the twin-ship, that relationship to Leni, takes precedence over everything and everyone, including her own family.”

“There's a lot of nuance with that, and that was the way that it was written, Gina says a lot of things to Mattie and speaks to in a way that Leni doesn't, so I got to play [with] that a lot, which was really fun.”

While Monaghan is captivating in her performance, the series leans into the soap opera territory, but the seven-episode series is tailor made for lovers of melodrama.

While it may not bee particularly original or affecting, for some, Echoes makes you concentrate as you try to figure out the truth in this complex web of a twin story.