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12 Actors Who Portrayed Real People So Accurately It’s Hard to Tell Them Apart

Stepping into the shoes of a character can be a tremendously complex process. Sometimes it requires lots of time to study and prepare for the role. But when actors take part in films based on real events and have to play real people, things can get even harder. They’re no longer free to play a character in whichever way they see fit; they have to be as close as possible to an individual with actual personality, flaws, and qualities, and who lived at a specific moment in history.

It’s a well-known fact that, on many occasions, reality manages to surpass fiction by a long shot. And what better proof of that than movies that are based on real events? That’s why Bright Side wants to show you a compilation of actors who dared to play real people on the big and small screens.

1. Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert

The book Eat, Pray, Love has been a huge success since it was published back in 2006. It took its author, Elizabeth Gilbert, to the top of the charts in no time. The book was so popular among readers all over the world that Hollywood producers decided to make a movie with the same name based on it. As you probably already know, it starred Julia Roberts, who was in charge of bringing Gilbert to the big screen.

2. Amy Adams as Margaret Keane

In 2014, we were able to witness the release of one of the best biopics of the decade, Big Eyes, a drama based on the life of American painter Margaret Keane and her husband, Walter Keane. The leading roles were played by an amazing Amy Adams and an impressive Christopher Waltz. Tim Burton directed the now classic movie.

3. Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy

Famous actress Sandra Bullock played Leigh Anne Tuohy in one of the hit movies of 2009, The Blind Side. The film is based on the book of the same name, which tells the true story of Leigh Tuohy, a wealthy woman who decides to take in and support a talented young man with a rather complex past and life.

4. Emma Stone as Billie Jean King

In the 2017 film Battle of the Sexes, Emma Stone got a complete makeover to become celebrity tennis player Billie Jean King. The movie tells the unique story of the popular tennis match that took place in 1973. So far, nothing too special, you might think. Well, it was a match between a man and a woman that changed the way we look at sports forever.

5. Selma Blair as Kris Jenner

Kris Jenner, the famous mother of the Kardashians, was played by Selma Blair in the first season of FX’s American Crime Story, also referred to as The People v. O. J. Simpson. The episodes narrate the real story behind the notorious case.

6. Brie Larson as Jeannette Walls

Author and journalist Jeannette Walls captured her complicated childhood and youth in the book The Glass Castle. This book, which turned out to be a great success, was later turned into a film under the same name and was released in 2017. The movie starred actress Brie Larson as Jeannette.

7. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit

In 2015, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was chosen to play French tightrope walker Philippe Petit on the silver screen. The dramatic feature film called The Walk shows the difficult beginnings of an artist who started his career on the streets but managed to make it to the top thanks to his skills and a bit of luck.

8. Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips

Captain Phillips was taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009. Luckily, the pirates failed and the captain was able to tell the whole tale in a book called A Captain’s Duty, which he co-wrote with journalist and author Stephan Talty. Subsequently, it was decided to bring the story to theaters in a film known as Captain Phillips, in which Tom Hanks plays the main character.

9. Willem Dafoe as Leonhard Seppala

In 2019, the film Togo was released starring the acclaimed actor Willem Dafoe in the role of Leonhard Seppala. The film alternates between the story of the upbringing of a small husky named Togo and the future, when this little dog has become an adult. Then, he’s one of the sled dogs led by Seppala, who are given the task of delivering some much-needed medicines for the treatment of diphtheria to the children of a remote village.

10. Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina

The film Hotel Rwanda is based on the events that took place during the country’s civil war. In the film, Don Cheadle played the role of Paul Rusesabagina, a man who fought to protect his family and the people around him.

11. Hannah Taylor-Gordon as Anne Frank

Anne Frank: The Whole Story was a miniseries that was released in 2001. It tells the story of the little girl who became known worldwide thanks to her diary. In the episodes based on the book Anne Frank: The Biography, it was actress Hannah Taylor-Gordon who was in charge of bringing Anne to the small screen.

12. James Franco as James Dean

In 2001, the movie James Dean was released on television. The film shows the humble origins, early career, and —ultimately— Dean’s way to the height of his fame. The actor in charge of bringing this versatile and talented celebrity to the small screen was James Franco. It hardly came as a surprise that he was cast for the role, their resemblance is striking.

Which of these actors and actresses do you think most resembles the real person they bring to life? What is your favorite movie based on real events?

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