Tuesday’s Season 3 finale of Baskets was, for most viewers, a showcase of the FX sitcom’s signature acting talents. The slightly off-kilter comedy, which premiered in January 2016, follows the life, friends, and family of Chip Baskets, a down-on-his-luck clown trained at one of the finer French clown academies. After flunking out of clown school and being jilted by his wife, who tolerated him only as a means of getting a green card, Chip tries to find fulfillment (and employment) in his hometown of Bakersfield, California, where his commitment to clowning artistry isn’t appreciated and where—in the show’s fictionalized version of Bakersfield, at least—the rodeo and Costco are the peak of culture.
Both the somber, misunderstood Chip and his more frenetic identical twin brother, Dale, a career-college founder who covers his own insecurities with blustery tantrums, are played by The Hangover and Between Two Ferns star Zach Galifianakis, who cocreated the series and constantly switches between the two roles. As the show—which, according to Galifianakis, has been renewed for a fourth season despite fragile (and falling) ratings—has matured, it’s made time for the hopes, dreams, and daily routines of not only Chip and Dale, but also their endlessly patient and endearingly low-affect friend, Martha (played by comedian Martha Kelly), who works as a Costco insurance saleswoman; their mother, Christine Baskets (Louie Anderson in drag); and, lately, Christine’s love interest, Ken (Alex Morris), the “Carpet King” of Colorado. Taken together, the show’s core characters, extended cast, and boldly bland locations are as unassuming, sympathetic, and, at times, staunchly untelegenic as anything on TV.
Anderson, who won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series after the first season, has become Baskets’ emotional center, and he kept both the pathos and the comedy coming on Tuesday’s finale, a family-first episode about a retreat to a rustic cabin. With Chip and Dale occupying the same confined space for much of the finale, Galifianakis got a lot of minutes, too—and so did someone behind the scenes who landed the job by looking a lot like him.
Although my wife and I laughed and emoted at the appointed times while watching the finale, we weren’t fixated only on Anderson or Galifianakis. We were also on the lookout for the blurry back of each Baskets twin’s head, the telltale sign of someone standing in for Galifianakis while he played the other brother. Whenever we spotted a stand-in, we pointed at the screen, scoring the most points per minute during one wild midepisode scene, which featured an extended slap fight between Chip and an apoplectic Dale, who in the span of two seasons has been dumped by both a wife and fiancée.
The secret sauce of that scene (and many others) isn’t part of the series’s forward-facing cast. He’s an uncredited man of multiple trades named Dillon Peddicord, who’s served as a stand-in and body double for Galifianakis in 27 of the 30 Baskets episodes, dating back to the pilot. The purpose of the part Peddicord plays on the show is not to be noticed, and from all appearances, he’s played it to perfection: “This is actually the first time I’ve spoken to anyone about my experience on Baskets,” he tells me by phone. When an FX PR person emailed me about “talent available for interviews,” she definitely did not have him in mind.
“I wish it was me being the only double,” Peddicord says of the slap fight. “At some point it is [me], at some points it isn’t.” Peddicord says that when the characters aren’t in slapping range, and during one line of dialogue later in the scene, some part of him is on screen, but when the actual slapping occurs, he’s not cleared to participate. “I’m kind of jealous,” he says. “Whenever there’s anything physical, they bring in the stunt doubles.” Naturally, the stunt doubles are Galifianakis look-alikes, too, although the main one, Haydn Dalton—who’s worked with Galifianakis on multiple projects—passes for Galifianakis only when wearing a fake beard. On Baskets, every Chip-and-Dale dual scene is a logistical quandary. “Zach needs to be so many places at once,” Peddicord says. “And then being his double, sometimes I need to be two places at once, and it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, we need so many Zach Galifianakises on this set right now,’” he says.
Peddicord didn’t do much to get discovered; he just happened to be in the right face at the right time. A native of Baltimore-D.C. suburb Westminster, Maryland, Peddicord moved to L.A. five years ago, hoping to find work in the entertainment industry. He added his head shot to a casting website, but he wasn’t actively submitting himself for roles at the time that a casting company contacted him; he was busy working on what he classifies as a “high-end burger truck.” Before he was bearded, Peddicord considered Kim Coates from Sons of Anarchy his celebrity doppelgänger, but once he grew out his facial hair, people started telling him that he looked like Galifianakis. The casting company saw the same resemblance and called him in to be a body double. “I can’t believe that the opportunity just presented itself like so,” he says. “You don’t hear the literal stories of Hollywood calling up: ‘Hello Dillon, would you like to be in a TV show with Zach Galifianakis?’”
On Baskets, Peddicord has worked both as a stand-in—the person who subs in for the lead before filming for lighting and camera-placement purposes—and as a double, who replaces the lead on camera from behind. On the pilot, he played both Chip and Dale, but because the two brothers have different wardrobes and hairstyles—Dale’s hair is straightened and differs from Galifianakis’s (and Peddicord’s) naturally curly locks—he soon specialized for efficiency’s sake. “When there’s Chip and Dale scenes together, two Zach Galifianakises are not enough,” Peddicord says. “And so what it became is that I’m always Dale in Chip-and-Dale-together scenes. I come in, they do the hair, the wardrobe, and I am Dale for the day.” Another double plays Chip. Peddicord still sometimes moonlights as the other brother, although he says he’s “very much more in depth with my Dale work.” Peddicord says he likes losing himself in the more hyperbolic brother’s almost manic personality, which he affectionately refers to as entering “Dale mode.”
Galifianakis, of course, has to be both brothers all the time, switching back and forth repeatedly while working through each season’s out-of-order shoots. “Each scene where Chip and Dale are together, Zach’s gotta do it twice,” Peddicord says. “Meaning I have to do it once. So I’ve got to be on the top of my game to be sure that I mimic Zach as well to my ability, so that when he’s doing it for the first or second time, he can come in and make it seamless, as if Chip and Dale are indeed two different people.” Peddicord’s goal at all times, he says, is “figuring out what makes Zach’s life easier.” Peddicord generally doesn’t receive scripts before he gets to the set, so he has to learn the dialogue quickly and be prepared to improvise, which Galifianakis and Anderson are often liable to do.
At 31, Peddicord is considerably younger than the 48-year-old Galifianakis, but since he’s usually not filmed from the front, the age gap isn’t obvious. He’s slightly taller than Galifianakis, but they have similar builds, shaggy hair, and facial features. “Zach and I look incredibly similar,” he says. Peddicord resembles Galifianakis more than either of the Chip doubles have, which, he says, has made him the de facto key double. “When we are in the same outfit, it’s difficult to distinguish us, especially from afar,” Peddicord continues. “We were actually dressed as Renoir the Clown in full wig one time, and it was eerie. [Writer/director/cocreator] Jonathan Krisel actually brought me over as a sidebar thinking I was Zach, I think it was three different times. The last time he started, ‘So this next scene ...’ and then he stares at me. ‘Zach?’ ‘Dillon.’ ‘Ah!’”
Although a physical match from behind is the most crucial criterion for a body double, Peddicord effortlessly looks like Galifianakis even when he’s in motion. On one occasion, a friend of the stunt double told him that he has Galifianakis’s gait. “I was like, ‘I do? I was just walking!’” he says. The resemblance extends to temperament and personality, too. “That’s another thing that makes me a great double, and to be that wall that Zach bounces the tennis ball off of, to react off of in a proper way,” he says. “I’m absolutely a kooky individual.”
As the cast and crew have worked their way through 30 episodes, they’ve grown much more comfortable with complex Chip-and-Dale scenes, which were more numerous in Season 3. As the editing and camerawork have become more adept and Peddicord has figured out how to track the camera and time when to angle his head, the trickery has gotten tougher to spot. In some finished scenes, Peddicord even deceives himself. “There’s some parts in Season 3 where I have difficulty distinguishing where I end and Zach begins,” he says. “I watch it sometimes like, ‘Oh, that’s Zach there.’ And then I’m putting myself back in the day of filming, I’m like, ‘No, that’s not Zach’s head there, that’s Zach’s head there. That’s definitely not [the Chip double’s] head, that’s Zach’s head, meaning holy shit, that’s me back there! Wow, I did a great job back there!’”
On rare occasions, Peddicord says, CGI has been used to assemble a scene, but only via tried-and-true tricks: For instance, after he and the Chip body double have each run through a scene with Galifianakis, they might both be replaced in post by the “other” Galifianakis so that the viewer sees two Galifianakises interacting instead of one working with a double. At other times, the crew can use what Peddicord calls a “cowboy switch,” so named for a technique used in Westerns where a principal actor would seamlessly replace a stunt performer while the latter is hidden from view (for instance, after being thrown behind a bar).
Baskets’ unusual structure has set Peddicord’s experience apart from those of most doubles who ostensibly do the same job. “Most doubles don’t interact with their actor,” Peddicord says. “One woman I met, she barely interacts with the actress she’s been doubling for for years, because she comes in on the days when she’s not available. Working directly with Zach and actually participating is a really rare opportunity.”
Peddicord says his “greatest hit” was the one time he did a stunt that made it to air. When the cast and crew were working on the Season 2 episode “Fight,” there was no stunt performer on set, so the stunt coordinator showed Peddicord (as Dale) how to safely grab Galifianakis (as Chip) and throw him out the door. “The first take was definitely too ginger,” he says. “And they were like, ‘You need to be a little rougher.’ By the third take it was perfect.”
Peddicord’s coincidental resemblance to an actor who broke out at just the right time opened a door that he intends to keep from closing for as long as he can. Although he enjoys working in the restaurant industry, Baskets comes first. “I would’ve loved to go on this most recent tour my good chef friend went on, but it goes until September, and that’s potential Baskets time,” he says. “I can’t have food truck happening during Baskets.” After Baskets finishes shooting, he goes gig to gig, doing open mics to develop his stage persona, writing pilots, and booking acting odd jobs. He’s been an extra on Transparent, Superstore, 2 Broke Girls, Uncle Buck, and Battle of the Sexes, among other shows; he fist-bumped Kathy Bates on an episode of Disjointed and appeared on an episode of Angie Tribeca in which he embodied the role of “Man with Axe in Head.”
Because Galifianakis doesn’t use a regular stand-in, Peddicord doesn’t expect to work with him on other projects. That might be for the best; although Peddicord once had the handle @DaleBaskets on Twitter and registered the email address DillonLooksLikeZach@gmail.com, he doesn’t always want to be—as his Instagram bio says—a “guy who looks like a guy.” Stand-ins and principals inhabit separate parts of the industry, and his priority is pursuing work as a principal.
Being a body double may not be Peddicord’s big break, but through three seasons, it seems likely that he’s accumulated as much Baskets screen time as anyone except the show’s central trio of Galifianakis, Anderson, and Kelly. He added several more seconds in the closing scene of Season 3, the mechanics of which mystified me until I watched it two or three times and realized that Galifianakis isn’t the one wearing the white coat when Dale walks through the door.
Like a plate umpire, a body double is most successful when no one notices his work. When I ask Peddicord to estimate his screen time to date, he chuckles and demurs. “The fact that you don’t know means I’m doing my job well,” he says.