The Double | Translation

The Double | Translation


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Translated by MC Editorial

[Daniel Alarcón]: Hello, Ambulante. We have reached the last episode of this season, but in September we will meet again. We will use this time to continue investigating and producing more stories for you, which you will hear in our 14th season. But don’t go away just yet. At the end of this episode, we’ll share an idea we have to stay in touch during this break. We’re very excited about it and we hope you will be too.

And well, before starting with the episode, I also want to remind you that doing independent and high-quality journalism in audio is difficult and expensive. You may have already seen that many media outlets close every year. At Radio Ambulante, we don’t want others to tell our stories: we want to do it ourselves, as Latin Americans. If you think the same and value our work, please support us today by going to and help us continue narrating the region the way you like. Thank you very much.

[Daniel]: This is Radio Ambulante from NPR. I’m Daniel Alarcón. 

It was the mid-70s and an Argentinean boy, Pablo Perillo, dreamed of appearing on TV. His parents were friends with a famous actor, and every time Pablo saw him, he insisted on the same thing: 

[Pablo Perillo]: “Get me on TV,” stuff like that. I was a kid, and he told me, “No, you have to go to school, you have to go to the conservatory.” And I was kind of lazy about studying.

[Daniel]: He never attended the conservatory, but he did attend some body expression workshops, and as a teenager he joined a theater group in La Boca, the neighborhood of Buenos Aires where he lived. But Pablo wanted more.

[Pablo]: And I dreamed of what I think everyone dreams of: becoming an actor or a performing artist. To succeed. Quote-unquote succeed. I’m not talking about economic success, but rather success in what you do. 

[Daniel]: When he was nearing 20, he began to try his luck at castings for television programs and ads. He had several pictures taken and put together a portfolio he used to knock on the doors of channels and production companies. He realized very soon that it would not be easy to enter that world. 

[Pablo]: You have to knock on a lot of doors, you have to deal with the no’s, the no’s, because there are so many no’s.

[Daniel]: So, after going from door to door and hearing a lot of no’s, one day he came to a producer who was in charge of hiring extras.

[Pablo]: I remember I started working as an extra in movies, appearing on television shows. I saw it as a way to at least get into it and meet people. 

[Daniel]: In his first jobs as an extra, Pablo would look desperately for the camera, trying to get his face in the shot. But then he realized that it was not good to become known as an extra. That could hurt him when it came to getting more important roles. 

[Pablo]: I was afraid of them saying, ”Ah, well, but this kid is an extra.” I mean, sometimes they do it as something very derogatory because it’s not good. 

[Daniel]: And that made him very angry. Because the extras, like everyone else on the set, were working, doing their bit to make the production a success. But this wasn’t the only thing Pablo had to deal with as he tried to make his way in the world of acting. There was another thing. A situation that was repeated invariably in every casting: 

[Pablo]: At every casting I went to, they said, “Wow, you look just like…” and on camera it’s even worse, ”you’re just like… you’re just like… just like Bruce Willis.” 

[Daniel]: Just like Bruce Willis, an actor who was starting to become a world star. And without Pablo even thinking about it, his resemblance to that actor would be his way to Hollywood.

We’ll be back after a break.

[Daniel]: We’re back with Radio Ambulante. Our producer Aneris Casassus picks up the story:

[Aneris Casassus]: The first time Pablo was told he looked like Bruce Willis, he was about 20 years old and was wearing a white sleeveless t-shirt. He was at a nightclub with his friends when one of them left the group to go talk to a girl he liked. Not five minutes had passed when the friend returned and said:

[Pablo]: “Dude, this girl told me that you look just like Bruce Willis.” I said, ”Like who?” “Like Bruce Willis.” “Who is Bruce Willis?” And he says, “Yes, it’s true, she’s right. You look alike.” “But who is he? I don’t know who he is.” 

[Aneris]: The girl joined the conversation. She looked at Pablo and said: 

[Pablo]: “You imitate him. You dress the same.” I tell her, “No, sorry, I don’t even know who that is.” 

[Aneris]: At that time, in the late ’80s, Bruce Willis had just released Die Hard, but Pablo had not seen the film yet. He only realized who they were referring to when they told him that Bruce was the actor in Moonlighting. 

A series that aired between 1985 and 1989, with Bruce Willis as the star, and that was known in several Spanish-speaking countries as Luz de luna

[Pablo]: But they even told me that I had the same gestures and everything. And that was the first time. 

[Aneris]: And it wouldn’t be the only time. Pablo remembers another night when he was at a bar and some guys couldn’t stop staring at him. They nudged each other, whispered, and laughed. Until Pablo approached them, furious.

[Pablo]: And the guy tells me, “No, no, stop, dude, no, no, no, relax, you just look like an actor; that’s what we were saying.” I mean, I was about to get into a fist fight, because it was a strange situation. People look at you and laugh, right? Well, back then I didn’t understand why, but over time I began to understand. 

[Aneris]: Since then, these types of situations have become more and more frequent. Die Hard became a box office hit, followed by more films in the saga.

[Archive soundbite]

[Actor]: “McClane, stay with me…”

[Pablo]: Moonlighting was a very successful series, but Die Hard was Die Hard—everyone had seen it, and even my friends and everyone told me, “You look just like him.” And I asked, “That much?” And well, over time I started to observe him and all. And he really does look like me. We look alike, I don’t know.

[Aneris]: Bruce Willis was becoming increasingly famous all over the world, including Argentina. And Pablo, with his resemblance, could no longer go unnoticed. 

[Pablo]: I didn’t want to hear about it. For me, it was not very encouraging because I felt like it was an obstacle for me. And I had to get inside a character, but I didn’t feel like it.

[Aneris]: Because in those castings he went to, the producers couldn’t stop imagining Pablo as John McClane, the tough detective that Bruce plays in Die Hard. That made him feel pretty frustrated. 

[Pablo]: Because it’s not that there was anything wrong with me. And one day someone said, “Hey, you look like an actor. Why don’t you make the most of it?” And I said, “No.” I mean, acting is my thing and I wanted to be me, Pablo Perillo, acting the part of whatever character I was supposed to be, not Bruce Willis. For me it wasn’t a thing. I didn’t like it. In fact, I was really opposed to it.

[Aneris]: But there was nothing he could do to change that. It was the face that he got, and even if he grew a beard or a mustache, as many suggested, the resemblance was uncanny. Impossible to escape.

Pablo spent his twenties and almost half of his thirties going from casting to casting, playing extras in some commercials and films. But he couldn’t live off that. At the same time, he kept on working other jobs: salesman, marketing campaign supervisor. He really liked public relations, the contact with people.

Until one day, early in 2002, when he was 34 years old, two friends called him on the phone. They had seen an advertisement, 

[Archive soundbite]

[Promo TNT]: To go to the Screen Actors Guild Awards, you don’t have to be a star; you just have to look like one. If that is your case, it’s time to take advantage of your famous face. On March 10, all the stars are going to be in Hollywood and so will you. TNT invites you to participate in the “Win a trip to the stars” contest…

[Aneris]: The TNT channel was launching a celebrity look-alike contest all over Latin America. When they saw the call, Pablo’s friends immediately thought of him. The announcement said that participants could upload a photo and their details to the TNT website or send them by mail. Also, that there would be three winners and that each one would receive a thousand dollars in cash, tickets to Los Angeles, four nights in a hotel, preferential tickets to different events, and—listen to this—limousine transportation. All this in the context of the SAG Awards, the prestigious awards that the Screen Actors Guild of the United States gives annually to the best performances in film and television in the weeks prior to the Oscars. TNT would broadcast the awards ceremony. 

[Archive soundbite]

[Promo TNT]: Don’t just look like a star—celebrate like one! Thanks to TNT and your famous face. 

[Aneris]: Pablo was not too convinced. His resemblance to Bruce Willis was something that had always bothered him. Furthermore, it was a huge contest, for all of Latin America, and probably hundreds of people who, like him, had some resemblance to a famous person, would sign up. Although his friends told him he was sure to win, he was not so confident. He hesitated quite a bit before applying, until he finally made up his mind to do it. He thought carefully about what picture to choose. 

[Pablo]: I remember I sent one where I was wearing a cap, and I said, “I think this is a good one.” At that time, Bruce wore a cap a lot, too.

[Aneris]: Pablo uploaded the picture and his data to the website and forgot about it. He didn’t have a lot of expectations for it. But a month later, the phone rang at home. When he answered, someone started speaking to him in English. Pablo didn’t understand a word they said. He thought they were playing a joke on him. Until they asked him whether he spoke Spanish. Pablo said yes and then—in Spanish —they gave him the news. 

[Pablo]: I had won as a Bruce Willis look-alike. Then there was a Brazilian girl who looked like Madonna, and then another girl from Córdoba who looked like Julia Roberts. 

[Aneris]: During that call, Pablo was asked to show up at the Hilton Hotel in Buenos Aires. When he arrived, a TNT team was waiting for him. The first thing they wanted was to see in person his resemblance to Bruce Willis. Pablo passed that test easily, so they went on to administrative matters and the details of the trip to Los Angeles. Then they confirmed that he would participate in the SAG awards ceremony. 

[Pablo]: It was really something. It meant going to Hollywood. It was something that looked very distant.

[Aneris]: From the neighborhood of La Boca to Hollywood. The trip would be about three weeks later. With each passing day, Pablo felt worse and worse. He had already been suffering from panic attacks, and they became more frequent in this situation. He started to feel a lot of anxiety. He had never traveled to the United States, he could not speak English, and suddenly he would have to be part of an event with the most famous stars in Hollywood. 

[Pablo]: My head felt strange. And anxiety eats at you. I started to get very nervous. I barely ate; I barely slept.

[Aneris]: He was suffering so much that he even thought of canceling the trip. But at the same time, he felt that he couldn’t miss that opportunity. Something like that was never going to happen again. For him, being an actor meant reaching a place that he had not imagined even in his own dreams. So, with nerves on edge, on the appointed day he took that very long flight to Los Angeles.

When he landed, they were waiting for him at the airport to take him to the luxury hotel where he would stay, one of the most iconic buildings in Los Angeles where several movies have been shot. TNT producers met him at the hotel, paid him the prize of one thousand dollars, and gave him the details of the event agenda. In his free time, they advised him to take the opportunity to tour the city. So Pablo went to see Universal Studios and walk around Beverly Hills, the area where the stars do their shopping. There he had the first indication of what could happen at the awards gala.

[Pablo]: I remember I was wearing a wool cap, because it was cold. I was wearing a wool cap and glasses and people were calling out to me on Rodeo Drive, “Bruce, Bruce.” 

[Aneris]: If in Argentina Pablo looked like Bruce, in Hollywood he was even more striking. 

On the day of the awards, Pablo got up early. He was nervous—very nervous. He ironed his shirt in the hotel room. And he prepared the Hugo Boss suit that a friend had lent him.

Once dressed up for the gala, the three contest winners met in the hotel lobby. They got into a limousine and headed for the ceremony. They were accompanied by a TNT representative.

[Pablo]: And when I got out of the limousine, I didn’t understand anything because E-Entertainment was there, the actors on the red carpet were answering questions. Me with zero English, trying to handle myself in a way that was actually very funny, because I said, “What? What do I say?” I had sort of a persecution complex, hoping no one would talk to me, because for me it would mean a breakdown. 

[Aneris]: He tried to greet people or make some gesture without saying a word, trying to graciously avoid the reporters who wanted to address him.

[Pablo]: Everyone was looking at me, and at one point I looked to the side and Denzel Washington was three feet away from me. 

[Aneris]: Denzel Washington. He couldn’t believe it. Pablo walked the red carpet like a true star. He was never able to confirm whether journalists actually believed he was the real Bruce. Then he entered the room where the awards ceremony would be held. He had a ticket with his name to get inside and an assigned table next to the other two contest winners. Pablo had a few glasses of champagne and began to relax and enjoy the event.

His table was in a special area, separate from the actors’ table, which was at the front of the room, in a VIP area, roped off and guarded by security personnel. When dinner was over and several of the awards had been handed out, Pablo got up from the table and walked firmly towards the actors’ area.

[Pablo]: I remember I said, “I’m going in. Who’s going to stop me?” And I went for it. And I remember they lifted the rope for me, they greeted me and went in. I mean, nothing at all; the guy didn’t ask me anything. So I passed as Bruce, I guess.

He walked a few steps and ran into Russell Crowe, who had just won best actor for A Beautiful Mind. Then he turned to one side and there was Halle Berry, awarded best actress for her work in Monster’s Ball.

[Pablo]: I was seeing everything. Crazy. I had all those people next to me. I couldn’t believe it.

[Aneris]: He went on walking and saw Ross, from the Friends series, and then Frodo from The Lord of the Rings. Pablo was amazed.

[Pablo]: And that’s when I see Sting. Oh man, when I saw Sting—on top of everything, he was also my idol. 

[Aneris]: At that point, he could no longer remain silent. He was face to face with one of the musicians he most admired. 

[Pablo]: And I look at him, and I remember the first thing that came out was, “I love you, Sting.” And Sting looks at me, he was with his wife, he laughs and says, “I love you too,” and he gave me a hug. Wow, it was crazy. 

[Aneris]: Whether Sting thought it was really Bruce, we will never know. But it didn’t matter. For Pablo that hug was more than enough.

With every step he took, he met a star.

[Pablo]: And when I go into the bathroom to pee, in the urinal next to me was Rob Lowe, and I say to him, “What’s up, Rob Lowe?” 

[Aneris]: The actor looked at Pablo and started laughing. It was clear that as soon as Pablo spoke, the spell ended. But Rob Lowe didn’t say anything. He just said hello and played along. 

[Pablo]: I was so impressed by being next to everyone, all these celebrities, you know? Seeing people like that greet you, say hello to you… 

[Aneris]: People so famous, so important, so rich. But there they seemed like ordinary people.

[Pablo]: You think that those people are at another… at another level, you know? And I thought they were going to be, I don’t know, mounted on a horse. Instead, the guys were very calm and cool. Anyone who appears on television for ten minutes here thinks he’s on top of the world, but these guys have a tremendous vibe.

[Aneris]: When the gala ended, the actors went to an exclusive party at a place next door. Pablo and the other contest winners could also go. There, they continued to meet more Hollywood stars. Suddenly Pablo, after several more glasses of champagne, was dancing next to the legendary Martin Sheen.

Then, in the distance, he saw Matthew Perry, Chandler on Friends, coming straight towards him. Matthew knew Bruce personally. They had worked together three years earlier on the comedy The Whole Nine Yards —which in Argentina was called Mi vecino, el asesino —and then on some episodes of Friends.

[Pablo]: He came straight to greet me. He wasn’t greeting anyone else. He was coming straight towards me.

[Aneris]: Pablo had a glass of champagne in his hand, and seeing him approach made him very nervous. He didn’t know what to do, much less what to say. So, to prevent Matthew from advancing… 

[Pablo]: I raised my glass to him as a toast. And the guy looked at me like saying, “What’s up?”

[Aneris]: Later, when they finally said hello, Matthew realized it wasn’t Bruce, but still agreed to have his picture taken with him. It would be one of the five or six photographs that Pablo was able to take during that unforgettable night.

The truth is that the real Bruce did not go to the awards ceremony or the party. And that, of course, was a disappointment for Pablo.

[Pablo]: Everything was very nice, everything was great, but I think the icing on the cake was missing: “Now meet your look-alike.”

[Aneris]: The prize did not guarantee that they would be able to meet their look-alikes, but rather that the winners would live for one night like Hollywood stars. So it was.

After five days in Los Angeles, Pablo returned to Buenos Aires, excited by everything he had experienced.

But that trip would be much more than some photo ops with celebrities and a story to tell.

[Pablo]: Everything changed, because somehow I began to understand that of course people mistook me for him. If friends, in this case Matthew Perry, mistook me for Bruce, I said, “Well, we must look a lot alike, because it must be difficult for someone he knows to mistake us,” because someone could say, for example, “Well, I didn’t know his height, I didn’t know how tall he was, whether the guy was taller, shorter.” 

[Aneris]: It wasn’t just the face, but also the physical build, the way he moved.

[Pablo]: And I began to accept the situation a little bit, and understand that, well, I could try to achieve that goal.

[Pablo]: So we look alike. Well, let’s do it right.

[Daniel]: After so many years of resenting their resemblance, the time had come to take advantage of it.

We’ll be back after a break.

[Daniel]: We’re back with Radio Ambulante. Aneris Casassus continues the story.

[Aneris]: As we said, during that trip to Los Angeles, something clicked for Pablo. He understood that embracing his appearance could prove to be a good career opportunity, a door he had always kept closed. So he began to study Bruce’s gestures in detail.

[Pablo]: The little smile he always has, the typical one. Then, the serious glances, with half-pursed lips as well, half-closed eyes is another one. And movements too, there are a lot of movements he does.

[Aneris]: Like when he twists his neck slightly to look somewhere. Pablo watched each of his movies over and over again and practiced in front of the mirror.

In 2003, a year after the contest, the strategy began to pay off. Pablo had gone to a bar with some friends when he happened to meet a Panamanian who was visiting Buenos Aires. They started chatting, and the man told him he was organizing the opening of a disco in his country. He soon made him a proposal, inviting him to go and be part of the inauguration as Bruce Willis’s double. Pablo accepted without hesitation. He gathered his lightest clothes and flew into the heat of Panama. His job that night was more than simple. A “presence” job, as they call it. 

[Pablo]: I would go to a VIP, sit down, just sit down and have a drink. And people started spreading the word that Bruce Willis was in Panama.

[Aneris]: Pablo tells us that the fake news even appeared on the cover of a local newspaper. The commotion was such that he was hired to be there every weekend. So Pablo decided to stay and live in Panama for a while. With his presence, the disco was filled. People even came from Colombia and Costa Rica hoping to get a photo with Bruce Willis.

He has many anecdotes from that time in Panama. Like the time he went to eat at a restaurant and an employee asked permission to take a picture of him. Days later, when he ate there again, he saw his face printed on all the menus. For the restaurant, the fact that an international star of the stature of Bruce Willis had tried their dishes became the best publicity they could have.

Another day, he was on the street when a woman approached him to talk. 

[Pablo]: And she approaches and says to me, “Hello, how are you? I wanted to ask you for an autograph. Could you do it for a friend?” “Yes, of course.” “What’s her name?” “Julia.” “Okay, but what do I write in it?” And she tells me, “With affection, for Julia.” “And how do I sign?” “Bruce Willis.” And I tell her, “But I’m not Bruce Willis.” “Yes, you are Bruce Willis.” “No, no, I’m not Bruce Willis.” “Yes, you are Bruce Willis. I know. I understand that you don’t want to be bothered. Because I heard in some reports that you don’t like the press to notice. Don’t worry; I’m not going to say anything.” Just like that. 

[Aneris]: Pablo, of course, spoke to her in Spanish. Just as you are hearing it, a very Argentinean Spanish. But there was no way the lady would believe him. 

[Pablo]: 45 minutes by my watch, telling her I wasn’t him. And the lady telling me I was.

[Aneris]: She was so insistent that Pablo finally gave in.

[Pablo]: Until I finally signed, “Bruce Willis.” She left happy. Bruce Willis, Bruce Willis! Everyone came running to take photos, to ask me… Something crazy. 

[Aneris]: With the impact he was having in Panama, more opportunities soon came his way. He was asked to film a TV set commercial. In the ad a boy appears watching television, and on the television screen is Pablo, running and jumping in the middle of an explosion. 

[Archive soundbite]

[Advertising, Sony Panama]: El sonido te rodea con el nuevo Wega 3.1 canales de audio… [Surrounded by sound with the new Wega 3.1 audio channels…]

[Aneris]: He is dressed in a shirt, pants and a hat in the style of Indiana Jones, the character played by Harrison Ford. Despite that, anyone who saw that ad would automatically think of Bruce Willis. 

Pablo continued doing more commercials, and he also started getting hired to model in clothing shows. With his appearance, he was doing better and better in Panama and, in a way, he was beginning to make peace with not becoming the actor he had dreamed of being.

[Pablo]: So I took that path and forgot the whole thing. Well, if Pablo the actor works, fine, and if it doesn’t work, let’s go with this too. But it was hard. I’ll be honest with you—it was difficult for me. I didn’t like it because I was afraid of ridicule, which I never liked.

[Aneris]: Pablo was living in Panama, taking some trips back and forth, until mid-2008, when he decided to return permanently to Buenos Aires and continue his career here.

Back home, his resemblance to Bruce Willis would once again define his future. But now, it would be on a personal level. It was 2009, in a fairly famous nightclub in the city.

[Lindsay De Santo]: I was at the door handing out flyers and inviting people to try a drink, and when I saw him come in, I froze. I was completely paralyzed, and my partner says, “Hey, he looks just like an actor whose name I can’t remember.” And completely frozen, I said, “Bruce Willis!” 

[Aneris]: Lindsay De Santo was working as a promoter at that nightclub when she saw the idol of her teenage years coming in.

[Lindsay]: I was always a big fan of Bruce, I’m telling you; I even had photos of him taped to the closet in my room. In fact, my cousin sent me all the clippings she could find. I mean, I was fascinated by him, I loved him. 

[Aneris]: Her father lived in the United States, and every time they spoke on the phone, she always told him:

[Lindsay]: All I ask is that, if you see Bruce Willis, grab a little sign that says, “Lindsay, I love you,” and take a picture of him.

[Aneris]: That’s why, that night, when she saw him, Lindsay believed her lifelong dream was coming true. 

[Lindsay]: So the first thing I did, he was with a friend, and I grabbed the friend because I didn’t know what to think.

[Pablo]: And she grabbed him by the arm and asked him: 

[Lindsay]: Is that Bruce Willis? 

[Pablo]: And he laughed and said nothing. He just kept on walking. 

[Lindsay]: And the friend laughed and kept on walking.

[Pablo]: And she was convinced that I was Bruce.

[Aneris]: After a few minutes, Lindsay tried to cool her head and started thinking, what were the chances that Bruce Willis was really there?

[Lindsay]: Maybe not, but maybe yes, because he is identical and this is a place any foreign actor might visit. 

[Aneris]: She had to be sure. So, along with her coworkers, she approached the place where Pablo and his friends were. When she heard him speak, she realized that it was not the real Bruce, but she still wanted to get a picture with him. Maybe that would be the closest she would ever get to her idol.

[Lindsay]: It was very funny because he looked like a Casanova. All the girls were surrounding him, and I was like, “Uhh, he must be a womanizer.” Hmm.. so I didn’t think everything was great, but no, I mean, I wouldn’t get anywhere with this man.

[Aneris]: Anyway, Lindsay started chatting with him. She had a lot of questions to ask. You can guess about what… 

[Lindsay]: And so, we told each other about everything related to Bruce. He talked about his job, and I told him how I loved Bruce Willis, and we exchanged phone numbers.

[Aneris]: The next day, Lindsay eagerly called her friends. She jokingly told them that she had had a Hollywood night, an international night. She then sat down at the computer and searched for Pablo on Facebook. She wanted to know more about him. Most of all, see photos of him, check to see whether in other contexts he looked the way she had seen him that night. And yes, he looked the same in all the photos. She added him as a friend and they started chatting. They spent hours talking and soon had a first date. For the second date, he took her to his birthday party and introduced her to his whole family.

[Lindsay]: When I met him, he said, “My name is Pablo,” and that was all. When I went to his birthday, it was, “Bruce, Bruce, Bruce.” And I said, “What?” “Yes, they call me Bruce.”

[Aneris]: Lindsay couldn’t believe that neither his own family nor his closest friends called him Pablo anymore.

After that official introduction, things between Lindsay and Pablo progressed very well, and two months after they met, they were living together.

Soon, people began to find a resemblance for Lindsay, too. 

[Lindsay]: They jokingly call me Demi Moore.

[Aneris]: Demi Moore, actress, Bruce’s ex-wife and mother of three of his daughters, with whom he continues to have a very good relationship.

[Lindsay]: But in reality, as we can see, I look somehow a little more like the current wife, whose name is Emma, who has a slightly rounder face. But there is always the Demi Moore joke.

[Aneris]: Especially because of her hair, black and straight just like Demi’s. They don’t mind these types of comments. On the contrary, they enjoy them. But at home it’s Pablo, Lindsay and their dog Lara. Maybe Bruce Willis is responsible for their meeting, but the rest, of course, is on them. 

[Pablo]: If we stay together, that’s it for the Bruce Willis thing. After that you have to be with me, not with Bruce.

[Aneris]: As the years went by, Pablo got more and more jobs because of his resemblance to the actor. He began traveling around Spain and Latin America to film commercials. He always had the same advice for every brand that hired him: never use the actor’s full name. Either just Bruce or Mr. Willis. Never Bruce Willis, to avoid any problems.

As in this commercial that Pablo recorded in Chile and in which he appears with a dubbed voice:

[Archive soundbite]

[Ad, Man]: La última misión fue un desastre, Bruce, destruiste la mitad de la ciudad. [The last mission was a disaster, Bruce, you destroyed half the city.]

[Dubbing]: Son daños colaterales, para salvar a todo el mundo, jefe. [That’s collateral damage, chief, to save the whole world.]

[Man]: Se acabaron las excusas. [No more excuses.]

[Aneris]: In other cases, he didn’t have to say anything. Just seeing him on the screen in an action scene was enough to make everyone think of Bruce.

Being such a fan of the actor, Lindsay helped him improve at his job. She had seen his movies so many times that her opinion was more than qualified. 

[Lindsay]: I’m very critical, look, I’m very critical. I always tell him, “Well, here you did this, here you could have done that,” but he plays it perfectly, perfectly. It’s his thing, it’s his thing. Of course, he always tells me that he would love to do other types of characters that are not always related to Bruce, but I think he is fine with it now. 

[Aneris]: Pablo began getting invitations to many events. In 2016, for example, he was called to be at the opening of the “Museo de las Estrellas” in Peru, which exhibited statues of Hollywood celebrities. As soon as he arrived at the Lima airport, chaos broke out.

[Archive soundbite]

[Man 1]: Bruce Willis!

[Man 2]: Excuse me, excuse me.

[Journalist]: They couldn’t believe it. Bruce Willis fans went crazy at the Jorge Chávez Airport.

[Man 3]: Don’t touch him.

[Journalist]: The idea that the American actor was in Peru spread quickly. And he walks like Bruce Willis, dresses and looks like Bruce Willis. But he’s not Bruce Willis…

[Aneris]: In the middle of the tumult, a lot of pictures were taken of him, which Pablo found later on the internet.

[Pablo]: They upload them online and say, “Here I am with Bruce Willis. I met him at the airport. The guy is very nice; he speaks Spanish well.” It’s all crazy.

[Aneris]: Something very similar happened in 2018, at a shopping center in Chile, where he had gone to shoot more commercials. Pablo ended up surrounded by fans who begged him for a photo or an autograph.

[Archive soundbite]

[Journalist]: Bruce Willis visited our country for two days. Well, at least some Santiago residents believed it, and in his final minutes in our country, they made him feel it.

[Woman 1]: I love him, better than on TV.

[Woman 2]: Handsome, beautiful, precious, charming.

[Man]: You would never imagine being able to see a celebrity of this category here in Chile, so it is really impressive. 

[Aneris]: In those moments—although fleeting—Pablo lives the life of a real international star. Walking through the tumult, surrounded by dozens of fans desperate for a picture. He sometimes takes advantage of the situation to make the most of it. 

[Pablo]: I know when I can go to an airport and upgrade to business class. I play with that and move up to business.

[Aneris]: He does this with his Pablo Perillo passport and his Bruce Willis face.

[Pablo]: And then the captain and the flight attendants ask me for a picture. No problem. 

[Aneris]: But never forgetting who he really is.

[Pablo]: I know we look alike. I know that it makes an impression on people. I understand the whole game. But I know who I am and who he is. We have two different lives. That’s why many people ask me, “Did you get the same tattoo as his?” No, no, no, I don’t go to the extreme. I don’t turn into someone else in my daily life.

[Aneris]: He also hasn’t had surgeries to look more like Bruce. Although Pablo is 12 years younger, it is as if that difference is not so noticeable, as if they have been aging at the same time.

Pablo was making 100% of his income from commercials and his participation in events, when he decided to take another leap in his career, working as Bruce’s official double. He knew that the actor had stunt doubles. He could not replace him doing that because he lacked the necessary physical training. But maybe in some other scene that did not involve danger, or as bait to mislead the paparazzi. He began searching the internet for any type of contact to reach him. He sent several emails and one day he asked a friend who spoke good English to call Bruce’s production company, “Willis Brothers Film.” It took several attempts until he found the right person, Stephen Eads, Bruce’s friend and right-hand man. Stephen asked him to send several photos, all his information, and his body measurements. Pablo did so, and once Stephen checked the material, he said:

[Pablo]: “So from now on you will be here at our production company for anything we need. Is that OK with you?” “Yes, of course.”

[Aneris]: “Yes, of course.” It was just what he was looking for. Pablo’s hopes went up after that communication, but a long time went by without hearing anything more from Stephen.

Until 2019, when he received an email from the production company. They asked him whether he could travel to Budapest, the capital of Hungary, to replace Bruce in a marketing campaign for an energy drink. Bruce was the face of the brand; he had already filmed this commercial:

[Archive soundbite]

[Hell Advertising, Bruce Willis]: Energy, taste, power. What else do you need? For me, it’s enough.

[Aneris]: But now they needed Pablo for some supplementary marketing action because Bruce would not travel there. Pablo couldn’t get over his joy. It would be his first job as an official double for Bruce Willis. So he instantly said yes, and a few days later he left for Budapest with Lindsay. They had a room reserved for them at the Four Seasons Hotel, next to the Chain Bridge, an emblematic area of the city.

When they arrived at the hotel, the paparazzi were already lurking at the door. Not only because of the rumor of the arrival of Bruce Willis, but because also staying there was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was in Budapest shooting some scenes for Terminator 6.

In the room were the clothes that Pablo would need to wear: a black leather jacket and black pants. The exact same clothes Bruce had worn to film the commercial. They fit him perfectly, as if they had been custom-made for him. 

[Pablo]: I mean, being there and wearing his clothes is a strange thing. And very close. Getting closer and closer. It’s what I was looking for, as close as possible. 

[Aneris]: As part of the action for the commercials, Pablo had to wear those clothes to a gas station and do a candid camera scene planned by the brand. This is Pablo in a video posted on the web, subtitled in Hungarian: 

[Archive soundbite]

[Pablo]: Hello, I’m Pablo Perillo, Bruce Willis’s double. Now we are going to play a joke on people.

[Aneris]: When cars came up to refuel, Pablo surprised the drivers by cleaning their windshields.

[Lindsay De Santo]: And the people were stunned and didn’t understand what was going on, and he came with the drink he was promoting and gave it to them, and it was crazy because people kind of froze.

[Aneris]: After a few minutes, they realized it was a joke, but they still took advantage of the opportunity to have their picture taken with this man so similar to Bruce Willis.

Pablo really enjoyed those days in Budapest. Especially because it was his first official job as a double for Bruce Willis, wearing his same clothes, with his actual production company. It was a kind of trial by fire, the possibility that from then on he would be called for more important jobs. 

[Pablo]: All the production companies of all the films that were going to be made began contacting me, asking whether I was available to travel. 

[Aneris]: He would go to different cities in the United States and Canada. Pablo couldn’t believe it. His time had come. Working on a Bruce movie, being on the set, meeting him, seeing him in action, probably saying hello to him. It was the icing on the cake that he had been waiting for since 2002, when he was in Los Angeles.

But sooner rather than later, his dream was put on hold. March 2020 arrived, and the world came to a standstill because of the pandemic. Filming stopped completely. Like everyone else, Pablo had no choice but to wait at home until the world returned to normal. 

In the middle of the lockdown, Pablo found a way out by using social media. He had long had a very successful Instagram account, called dobledebruce. A lot of comments were left there. Pablo didn’t answer any of them, just as a true Hollywood star would do. He also started exploring TikTok, and there, things escalated to another level. Within a few years, he had gotten almost five million followers.

By this point, Pablo had been working with Bruce’s image for almost two decades. I wanted to know whether he feels like he owes Bruce something. 

[Pablo]: I don’t know whether owing is the right word. I was lucky to look like a guy who is well-liked, who appeals to people, who is a Hollywood star and who is a person like us, nothing more. There’s not much more. I think I worked hard to do what I did. And I think I deserve it, too. 

[Aneris]: In any case, he says, that debt would be reciprocal. Not only a debt to him, but to all the doubles, who do a job that, he claims, doesn’t get enough credit.

[Pablo]: No one attaches importance to the stunt doubles, either, the people who expose their body, who are the ones that get into accidents, who are the ones that make them look good as heroes. And these are guys who basically give their lives for the actor. And the one who shines is the actor, not the double. They need doubles if they don’t want to be bothered because the press comes or because people harass them. There are the doubles. That’s why I partially owe him, but I think he also owes us something.

[Aneris]: Little by little, with the arrival of vaccines, the world began to return to normal. Pablo hoped that the projects that had been suspended would soon be reactivated, when he saw a news story in the media that completely shook him,

[Archive soundbite]

[Journalist 1]: Bruce Willis retires. The American actor leaves acting after being diagnosed with aphasia.

[Journalist 2]: A disorder that causes the inability to communicate.

[Aneris]: In March 2022, Bruce Willis’s family issued a statement through social networks, and the media began to repeat it.

[Pablo]: I contacted one of the producers I spoke with.,Hhe told me that it was all right, that they were watching what was happening to him because they still didn’t know exactly what it was. He was forgetting the letters, he was forgetting things.

[Lindsay]: And then that kind of worried us because he was talking about working directly on five films with him, but they were being postponed, they were taking longer for one reason or another. Then it was like, and I’m sorry for the expression, but (Expletive deleted). 

[Pablo]: That’s what mattered the most to me, not being able to finish doing things I had, projects I had with him that were no longer a fantasy. They were now facts, that is, being able to work full time.

[Aneris]: At first, Pablo thought it would be a temporary thing, maybe caused by stress. But as the months went on, it was confirmed that Bruce suffers from frontotemporal dementia, a disease that primarily affects areas of the brain associated with speech, behavior and personality. The aphasia had been the first symptom of a bigger problem.

[Pablo]: I’m not going to be selfish and think about myself, either. Obviously he is going through something much worse than what I can experience, which is just not being able to work with him. Hey, he has a much more serious health problem than what can happen to me in this case. But anyway, it still affects you.

[Aneris]: After Bruce’s retirement, the big question is what will happen to Pablo. He had been building his career around that of another person, someone he has never even met but who, in a very unique way, he feels close to. He has spoken on social media with his producers, even with Bruce’s sister. He knows from them that Bruce has seen his work and Pablo feels proud that he has always performed it respectfully. And he is sure of one thing: If someone close to Bruce ever asks him not to do it anymore, he won’t do it anymore.

Despite the circumstances, Pablo and Lindsay try to be optimistic and think about new opportunities.

[Lindsay De Santo]: Bruce Willis will always be a character who will be active, even if he is not active. I mean, Bruce’s movies, you switch channels at any time and you can see a Bruce movie.

[Aneris]: Maybe, they hope, Pablo can replace him in films that he never finished or even star in a film about his life.

[Pablo]: Maybe I can be part of something important at some point. I never lose hope. 

[Aneris]: Or perhaps the time has come to simply be Pablo again.

[Daniel]: As I mentioned at the beginning, this is the last episode of our 13th season.

But until we return in September, we want to propose an idea: send us whatever you want: a letter, a drawing, a photo. You can tell us a secret, ask a question, give us an idea for a story, but the only thing we ask is that it’s not digital. We want you to write to us by hand. We want physical objects. Really.

Okay, so write down our address, and well, if you don’t catch it, we’ll also put it in the episode notes.

Here it goes:

Radio Ambulante Studios

42 Tiemann Pl. #312

New York, New York

10027, United States

And thank you in advance. We’re very excited to think about what you’ll send us.

In the meantime, we’ll be here working on the next season. And don’t forget that our colleagues from El Hilo will continue to provide you with weekly, in-depth explanations of the most important news from Latin America.

Finally, if you value the journalism we do, share it with your family and friends, and support us. The journalism we do is sustained thanks to people from our community like you, who donate to us month by month through Deambulantes, our membership program. Visit and help us continue narrating the region.

Thank you very much and, now, here come the credits.

Aneris Casassus is a producer for Radio Ambulante and lives in Buenos Aires. This story was edited by Camila Segura. Bruno Scelza did the fact-checking. Sound design is by Andrés Azpiri and Rémy Lozano with original music by Rémy.

The rest of the Radio Ambulante team includes Paola Alean, Lisette Arévalo, Pablo Argüelles, Adriana Bernal, Diego Corzo, Emilia Erbetta, Selene Mazón, Juan David Naranjo, Ana Pais, Melisa Rabanales, Natalia Ramírez, Natalia Sánchez Loayza, Barbara Sawhill, David Trujillo, Ana Tuirán, Elsa Liliana Ulloa and Luis Fernando Vargas.

Carolina Guerrero is the CEO. 

Radio Ambulante is a podcast by Radio Ambulante Estudios, produced and mixed on the Hindenburg PRO program. 

Radio Ambulante tells the stories of Latin America. I’m Daniel Alarcón. See you in September.



Aneris Casassus

Camila Segura

Bruno Scelza

Andrés Azpiri and Rémy Lozano

Rémy Lozano

Julia Tovar


Episode 30