Twins Peaking

updated 10/11/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/11/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ALL RIGHT, LET'S SEE IF WE CAN GET THIS STRAIGHT: IN 1991, Jeremy London won the role of Nathaniel Bedford, eldest child of Forrest Bedford (Sam Waterston) on the NBC series I'll Fly Away, after his twin brother, Jason, turned down the part because he was already committed to another show. Two years and a controversial cancellation of the series later, Jason will pick up the role of Nathaniel in the two-hour PBS finale of I'll Fly Away (Oct. 11) because Jeremy is otherwise engaged playing Sonny Snow in CBS's florid new prime-time drama Angel Falls.

Phew! If viewers are shaking their heads over this sort of Doublemint double-dealing, so are the London twins, now 20 and two of the hotter properties in Hollywood. "I can't wait lo see Jason working with all the people I've worked with these last two years," says Jeremy. Says Jason: "It'll be the same character, but I did my own thing with it."

The Londons have been using this team strategy since, well, birth. "We were womb males," says Jason. "It's the ultimate codependent relationship." Says Jeremy: "We don't have lo talk to each other every day. We feel each other." Recalling their first serious time apart—when Jeremy was on location in Atlanta with I'll Fly Away and Jason was working in L.A.—Jason says, "For him lo be so faraway definitely affected inc. fiver) lime I picked up the phone, he was about lo call."

And the Londons' time has come. Jeremy won kudos aplenty for his rendition of the sensitive teenager in I'll Fly Away, while Jason has earned strong reviews for his role as a restless '70s teen in Dazed and Confused. "It's the story of my high school," he says, "sans the bell-bottoms and drugs."

Indeed, it was only a few years ago that the London boys were kicking around in De Soto, Tex., and living in a trailer with their mother, Debbie, now 40, her third husband, Roger Coffey, their younger sister, Dedra, and two of Coffey's children. (Roger and Debbie are now divorced.) Debbie had brought up her children on her father's 6,000-acre ranch near Canadian, Tex., after she and the; boys' father, Frank London, divorced in 1977. But in her constant search for better circumstances, she moved the family six times in 13 years. "I always told them," says Debbie, "we don't have the word 'can't' in our vocabulary."

One day in the restaurant where Debbie worked, just four years ago, she met an actress Who said she would put the twins, who had appeared in nothing more than a few high school plays, in touch with her agent in Dallas. Within two years the boys had a half-dozen film and TV credits between them. "Before that," says Jeremy, "we were doomed to redneckhood." It was Jason who got the first major break. When the twins' agent called about a part in the film Man in the Moon, Jeremy had to persuade Jason to drive him to the tryout. "It was my audition," Jeremy recalls, "but he got the part. I didn't mind. I knew I'd be out there shortly."

So he was. Now the Londons still share a home with pool, in the Los Feliz neighborhood of L.A. They return to the Southwest several times a year to visit their mother and their father, frank. 10, a sheet-metal worker who lives with his second wife, Melody, and their two children in Tuttle, Okla. Tragically, Dedra, 16, already married and a mother, was killed in a car crash last year. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of her," Jeremy says.

As far as the London twins are concerned, they are out of those dusty cattle towns lo stay. Says Jeremy: "I don't want to bust my butt for the rest of my life, like my parents." Adds Jason, ruefully remembering the hard times: "We can get low, but we can't get any lower than where we've been."

TINA JOHNSON in Los Angeles

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