Biographical movies or simply just “biopics” have been around since the beginning of the movie industry. Portrayed as a sort of mirror to society, biopics enable us to explore the loves and lives of regular human beings across the world. Rather than just allowing us to escape, a biographical movie also inspires, with the idea of the story being ‘real’ making the movie all the more appealing. Yep, rather than just making up a story from thin air, biopics do all the work for you. From drama to romance a biographical movie has it all, as long as it has been researched and produced correctly of course…
A risk, to say the least, making a successful biopic can be extremely difficult. Both movie makers and audiences across the globe share a vibrant obsession with the lives of others, exploring the genre to the fullest. With cinema still a form of escapism it is necessary for the filmmakers to entertain even if it means stretching the truth that little bit more. But how far is too far? Sometimes leading to a whole mess of exploitation and great big whopping lies, those who have been written about are often upset with how their stories have been told. So to look that little bit closer at a genre that has covered so much, here are 15 real people who thought the movie versions of themselves sucked.
15. Marc Schiller – Pain & Gain
Released as comedy crime movie, Pain & Gain Portrays the real life accounts of an organized crime syndicate involved with a number of bodybuilders in a local gym. However, things weren’t all that funny when victim Marc Schiller found himself rightly offended at the movies take on the kidnapping and torture of himself and many of his friends. In fact, Schiller was so angry that he ended up suing the makers of the movie claiming that he was falsely depicted as a corrupt, “unlikable, sleazy” douche when he was actually the victim. Discussing his portrayal in more detail, Schiller stated, “the movie made a mockery of me and of the pain and suffering that I had endured. … The horrible person on the screen had no resemblance to who I was — or who I am now.”
14. Max Baer – Cinderella Man
When movies are based on a true story it’s understandable that things get beefed up a bit. Plot lines may need a little more extra information and characters may need to be that little bit louder and more imaginative than the actual person they are based on. However, sometimes things can go a little too far, especially when people’s lives are at stake. Take the murderous evil boxer in Cinderella Man for example. Based on real life boxer Max Baer, the movie shows Baer bragging about how many men he had killed in the ring, a truthful account that was in fact purely by accident. In real life, the event had haunted Baer his whole life, with Baer even raising money for the deceased boxer’s family. Outraged Baer’s family immediately complained, citing Baer’s Jewish ethnicity as having an impact on the portrayal of the boxer himself.
13. Billy Hayes – The Midnight Express
Locked up in a Turkish prison for five years, drug smuggler Billy Hayes became one of the most famous inmates of all time when Oliver Stone made the notorious Midnight Express, a movie that detailed Hayes’s life inside. However, not entirely happy with the movie itself, Hayes has often spoken out with regards to what exactly went down in those harrowing five years, as well as speaking up for the Turkish government who he believes were depicted in a bad light. Yep, despite being imprisoned in the darkest depths of Turkey, Hayes still has a soft spot for the Turkish government, stating, “I mean when you look at ‘Midnight Express’ the film, you don’t see any good Turks at all. It creates this overall impression that Turkey is this horrific place. Well, that’s not fair to Turkey. I love Istanbul. I actually spent quite a bit of time in Istanbul before I was arrested.”
12. Mark Zuckerberg – The Social Network
Hardly known for his roaring sense of humor or chirpy personality, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has often spoken out with regards to the hatred he feels towards the movie version of himself. Portrayed by curly haired fop Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network, Zuckerberg claimed that his feelings were hurt when the movie decided to portray a false representation of himself. Yep, Zuckerberg stated that the movie had “made up a bunch of lies” about him as well as insinuating that he had invented Facebook in order to “get chicks”. However, seemingly understanding the wonderful world of Hollywood, Zuckerberg admitted “I think the reality is that writing code and then building a product and building a company is not a glamorous enough thing to make a movie about, so you can imagine that a lot of this stuff they had to embellish or make up.” Whatever you say, Zuckerberg.
11. Hunter S. Thompson – Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
Famed for his Gonzo style of writing as well as rapid drug taking, novelist Hunter S.Thompson has become somewhat of a legend since his suicide in 2005. With Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas arguably his best work, the movie was based on a drug fuelled escapade. Directed by warped genius Terry Gilliam as well as starring A-list celebs such as Tobey Maguire, Benicio del Toro, and Johnny Depp, who incidentally played Hunter himself, the movie went down well with the acclaimed author. However, as time went on so did Hunter’s opinion, pinpointing Maguire in particular as the weakest point. That’s right, ragging on the former Spiderman during the audio commentary, Thompson can be heard yelling, “that kid is a stupid…wax doll of some kind, he’s a freak, a perfect representation of the breed.”
10. Art Howe – Moneyball
One of the surprise hits of 2011, Moneyball is based on the 2003 nonfiction book of the same name. The movie, which was nominated for six academy awards, focuses on real life baseball manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and his unorthodox attempt at creating a competitive team. However, although the movie was well received by critics, the actual people that were portrayed were less than impressed. Played by the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Art Howe was upset with how the movie had depicted him, stating, “first of all, Philip Seymour Hoffman physically didn’t resemble me in any way, he was a little on the heavy side. And just the way he portrayed me was very disappointing and probably 180 degrees from what I really am, so that was disappointing too… I’ve spent my whole career trying to build a good reputation and be a good baseball man and someone who people like to play for.” I mean how would you feel if you got Phillip Seymour Hoffman and the other guy got Brad Pitt?
9. Frank Abagnale – Catch Me If You Can
Released in 2002, the film Catch Me If You Can told the world about the international con artist, Frank Abagnale. Played by the extremely talented Leonardo DiCaprio, the movie somewhat glamorizes a real life criminal by turning a man who stole millions of dollars into something of a superstar. Initially happy with the portrayal, I mean who wouldn’t want Leonardo DiCaprio playing you in a movie? Abagnale openly praised the film’s take on his own life. However, as time went on, Abagnale’s opinion differed, resulting in him panning the movie at every opportunity. In fact, Abagnale was so angered by the biopic that he began accusing the makers of the film of glamorizing his sordid past, something that he had wanted to bury. Later stating that he wasn’t proud of his actions and everything that he had done in the past, Abagnale currently refuses to even acknowledge the movie anymore.
8. The Real Patch Adams – Patch Adams
Say it isn’t so! Sadly even the positive biographies sometimes get it wrong. Depicting the life of the wonderful and joyful doctor Patch Adams, the movie is unfortunately soaked with classic Hollywood schmaltz despite the amazing Robin Williams portraying the famous doctor. Annoying just about anyone that was actually involved with the real life story, things took a turn for the worse when the real Patch Adams decided to speak out. Critical of the film’s actual intentions, the real Patch Adams claimed that the producers only cared about making money. In fact, Adams even attacked Robin Williams, stating, “he made $21 million for four months of pretending to be me, in a very simplistic version, and did not give $10 to my free hospital. Patch Adams, the person, would have, if I had Robin’s money, given all $21 million to a free hospital in a country where 80 million cannot get care.” Ouch.
7. Julian Assange – Fifth Estate
First of all, no matter what you say about the movie you can’t discredit the casting, I mean just look at them both?! Starring the oddly attractive Benedict Cumberbatch as the one and only whistle blower Julian Assange, Fifth Estate is an unholy mess. Focused on Assange’s fall from grace, the movie was actually a massive flop. Hated by audiences worldwide the film was also despised by those who it portrayed, with Assange himself calling it at a “massive propaganda attack” and “fiction masquerading as fact.” In fact, Wikileaks even leaked the screenplay along with a scathing review of the contents. Claiming that the movie was “fiction masquerading as fact,” Assange also stated that no producers or production companies approached him with regards to the facts.
6. Michael Oher – The Blind Side
A huge hit when it was released The Blind Side tells the story of Michael Oher, a troubled teenager from a horrific background who ended up homeless while in high school. Eventually adopted by Leigh Anne (played by Sandra Bullock) and Sean Tuohy, the adoption allowed Oher to focus on his one and only talent, football. However, not quite happy with the turn out of the movie itself, despite Bullock nabbing her very own Oscar, Oher has repeatedly shown his disdain for the football hit. Speaking at the 2013 Super Bowl Championship Oher made it clear what his thoughts were with regards to the movie, stating, “I’m tired of the movie, Football is what got me here, and the movie, it wasn’t me … The movie is great, it’s very inspiring to tons of people all over the world, but the main problem I have is with the football part of it. Sports is all I had growing up, and the movie made me look like I didn’t know anything.”
5. Lil’ Kim – Notorious
OK so it wasn’t necessarily about her as such, but she hated the person who played her. Yep, perhaps most known for her rapping skills, Lil’ Kim is also a renowned actress, song writer and one-time girlfriend of rap legend Biggie Smalls. Dating on and off throughout the mid-nineties, the relationship was depicted in the Biggie Smalls biopic Notorious in 2009. Unhappy with how she was portrayed, Kim lauded the movie a joke claiming that “most of the story was bullshit.” In fact, Kim was so angry that she also blasted the actress who played her, Naturi Naughton, telling anyone who would listen that she was the worst possible choice stating, “how can you write a movie about someone’s life and not even talk to them? She never made an initiative to even try to come to me and say, ‘Well look Kim, I need your blessing.'”
4. Winnie Mandela – Winnie
Released in 2011, Winnie, focuses on the life of the wonderful Winnie Mandela, played by the equally charming Jennifer Hudson. However, the real Winnie Mandela was less than impressed, complaining about the film at every opportunity. With nothing against Hudson herself, Mandela was more concerned with the fact that she wasn’t consulted, a move which she said offended her. Speaking to CNN Mandela claimed, “I have absolutely nothing against Jennifer, but I have everything against the movie itself, I was not consulted. I am still alive. And I think that it is total disrespect to come to South Africa, make a movie about my struggle, and call that movie some translation of ‘The Romantic Life of Winnie Mandela.’ I think it is an insult. I don’t know what would be romantic in our bitter struggle.”
3. David Letterman – The Late Shift
David Letterman probably has one of the most recognizable names in showbiz, therefore, it was no surprise to see a movie made about him. Based on the strained relationship Letterman shared with late-night competitor Jay Leno, the movie spilled some dirty truths with regards to the fall out that was said to have occurred between the two hosts. However, Letterman was less than impressed with the movie’s take on his personal life and began to constantly mock it throughout his opening monologs. In fact, Letterman was so angry that he began poking fun at the movie’s actors, stating, “I’ve seen a clip reel, and it’s just bizarre, the guy who’s playing me—and I’m sure he’s a fine actor—but his interpretation seems to be that I’m, well, a circus chimp. He looks like he’s insane, like he’s a budding psychopath.” You said it, David.
2. Sarah Palin – Game Change
No stranger to being made fun of, the one-time vice-presidential candidate (Yes that’s true) has often fallen victim to a number of satirized takes on her persona. Easy to impersonate, most famously by Tina Fey‘s acclaimed Saturday Night Live skit, Palin, to her credit, has seemingly taken it all with a pinch of salt. However, things drastically changed when HBO decided to get in on the act, a result which finally pushed old Palin over the edge. Called Game Change, the TV drama depicts the 2008 McCain campaign trail as well as Palin’s role at the time. Claiming that the show was full of lies, Palin stated, “I’m not concerned about an HBO movie based on a false narrative when there are so many other things to be concerned about.”
1. Ike Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It
With the ins and outs of the Turner relationship often open for all to see, it was no surprise to see a movie made about the roaring couple. Released in 1993, What’s Love Got to Do With It details the often fiery relationship between the music legends Tina and Ike Turner. Somewhat portraying Ike in a bad light, the real Ike Turner was less than impressed with the movie’s representation. In fact, Ike was so angry that he held a press conference with regards to the movie’s accusations in that he was a woman beater, stating, “the only time I ever punched Tina with my fist was the last fight we had, I hit her after she kneed me in the chest. Prior to that, our fights, or our little slaps, or whatever they were, were all just about attitude. Me and Tina never fought about other women or about her not keeping house or her not taking care of the kids. It was always because she was looking sad and wouldn’t tell me what was wrong with her. She would take that attitude with her on to the stage and that would really depress me. So after the show, I’d end up slapping her or something. But then we’d be okay.”
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