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MY HOLLYWOOD TWIN

I've the worst memory in the world, but I've at least learned to be more honest as I get old, so when someone comes up to me and asks, "You don't remember me, do you?", I tend to own up straight away. But when a woman approached me on Saturday night with that exact question, I wasn't prepared for her prompting as to why I should have remembered her. "We met once, five years ago, and you called me 'a poor man's Gwyneth Paltrow'."

Suitably mortified that I could say something so callous, I apologised, but at the same time tried to explain that even a passing resemblance to Gwynnie should be taken as a compliment. After all, every one of us looks like someone who's well-known, and her doppelgänger could have been a lot worse.

Which got me thinking about my lifelong lookalike, who's shadowed me since the age of 18 but whom I'd lost contact with in recent years. I'm referring, of course, to a member of the legendary 'brat pack' of young actors from the 80s, which also included Rob Lowe, Demi Moore and Emilio Estevez.

On my first ever trip to the US, aged 20 and on a J1 visa, we arrived in New York and went into a bar. Within two minutes, a girl came up to us, pointed at me, and said: "You're him, aren't you?" I knew exactly what she was talking about, because I was him: Andrew McCarthy (pictured left), star of such seminal works as St Elmo's Fire, Pretty in Pink and Mannequin. And despite the fact that the first of those movies had only just been released, it wasn't 'til I opened my mouth and revealed my poncy, D4 Dublin accent that she realised I wasn't.

I'd like to have been the double of someone a bit more, well, higher up the Hollywood power list. Let's be honest, as movie stars go, Andrew McCarthy is to movies what Brian Dowling is to TV -- a bit random. But I was stuck with it as myself and Andrew, each aged about 20, looked like we'd been separated at birth.

With my interest re-ignited after my Gwynnie-related incident, I decided to reconnect with my doppelgänger and see what had become of old AMC. But checking out his lined, slightly haggered looking face, it occurred to me that time had not been too kind to the star as I knew him -- fresh of face, bouffant of hair and rolled-up of jacket sleeve. What struck me most however, despite being the spitting image of each other 25 years ago, was how dissimilar we now looked.

And worse than that, the man that 25 years ago I wanted to be when accosted by star-crossed female fans in a New York bar, well ... much like his physical features, Andrew McCarthy's career hadn't really improved with age, nor had his personal life panned out perfectly. Twenty years after first dating his college sweetheart, he bumped into her on the street, got talking, and found out she was seeing someone. Convincing himself that she was the one who got away, he got her to abandon her happy relationship in favour of the fairytale script he had in his head. And a few years after marrying her and having a child, they split.

He may not look much like MOD any more, but he's certainly still acting like him.

Michael O'Doherty is the publisher of the VIP magazine group


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