Weird History

The Real People Who Inspired Biopics Vs. The Actors Who Played Them  

Jude Newsome
3k votes 314 voters 6.8k views 25 items

List Rules Vote up the actors who most resemble their movie namesakes.

Not everyone gets a movie named after them. And those that do – the few, proud eponymous biopic subjects – usually do because, for better and often worse, they lived a life less ordinary. Given the hyperbolic strokes with which many of these folks lived their livs, it's no wonder biopic actors vs real life counterparts are a subject of curiosity. Who hasn't watched a film about a real-life figure and feverishly googled the actors vs the real life characters? Only big ol' liars will say they didn't! 

But Hollywood doesn't always get biopic actors and their real-life counterparts right. Where did casting agents hit – and where did they miss – when it comes to casting biopics' title characters?

Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Real People Who Inspired Biopics Vs. The Actors Who Played Them
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons/Warner Bros.

Actors: Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton, Nelson Mandela, Angela Bassett, Christopher Plummer, + more

Released: 1992

Directed by: Spike Lee

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#2 of 719 on The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #12 of 51 on Every Movie Coming To Netflix In December 2019 #2 of 26 on The Greatest African American Biopics #93 of 237 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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Sid and Nancy is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Real People Who Inspired Biopics Vs. The Actors Who Played Them
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons/The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Actors: Courtney Love, Gary Oldman, Kathy Burke, Xander Berkeley, David Hayman, + more

Released: 1986

Directed by: Alex Cox

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#32 of 204 on The Best Movies About Music #49 of 210 on The Best Drug Movies of All Time #14 of 23 on Great Movies About Starting a Band #71 of 139 on The Very Best Biopics About Real People

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Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Real People Who Inspired Biopics Vs. The Actors Who Played Them
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, + more

Released: 2012

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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#12 of 33 on The Best Steven Spielberg Movies #13 of 77 on The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books #26 of 237 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories #20 of 80 on The Most Patriotic Movies of All Time

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Ray is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Real People Who Inspired Biopics Vs. The Actors Who Played Them
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons/Universal Pictures

Actors: Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard, Regina King, Warwick Davis, + more

Released: 2004

Directed by: Taylor Hackford

More Ray

#7 of 719 on The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #10 of 204 on The Best Movies About Music #1 of 26 on The Greatest African American Biopics #32 of 237 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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