66 Side-By-Side Shots Of Biopic Stars And The Real People They Portrayed

Published October 13, 2018
Updated December 12, 2023

Side-by-side with the real people who inspired their roles, it's clear which biopic stars were perfectly cast - and which were total duds.

Emile Hirsch And Chris Mccandless
Ray Liotta And Henry Hill
Eddie Felicity Stephen Jane
Michelle Williams As Marilyn Monroe
66 Side-By-Side Shots Of Biopic Stars And The Real People They Portrayed
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The star of a biopic has a daunting task. Their job is to bring the dead to life; to step into the skin and clothes of a historical figure and bring all of their quirks and mannerisms to the screen.

In most films, actors can draw their roles out from their imaginations however they will; but in a biopic, they have to prepare for an audience brimming with their own ideas about who these people were — and accurately portray a person who actually existed.

We all have our own ideas and our images of the people who make up history. We've seen their pictures or their videos, and we've heard them speak or read their work. We have a vision of who they are; and any performance that doesn't fit that idea, no matter how brilliant, will fall flat.

It takes incredible work to transform the star of a biopic into the figure from history they are meant to portray. Sometimes, it's the casting that does it. Holywood experts spend months or years seeking out the perfect actors; mirror images of historical figures who can bring them to life.

But for some roles, there is no perfect actor. Sometimes, the only way to bring a character to life is to have the star spend hours in make-up, reshaping their faces into the mold of a real person. Like John Hurt, who spent 8 hours having his face reshaped in the image of John Merrick for The Elephant Man.

For all the struggles involved in making a biopic really work, though, the genre only gets more popular each year. Three of the films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 2018 were biopics, while six of the Golden Globes nominations for Best Actress went to women playing figures from real-life.

It's a difficult job to bring the dead to life, but it's a rewarding one. And the results – as the 66 side-by-side comparison shots in the gallery above show – can be nothing short of incredible.

Next, figure out what happened to some of the living, famous descendants of historical figures. Then check out these awesome celebrity school photos.

Caroline Redmond
Caroline is a writer living in New York City who holds a Bachelor's in science from the University of Florida. Her work has appeared in People, Yahoo, Bustle, Entertainment Weekly, and The Boston Herald.
Leah Silverman
A former associate editor for All That's Interesting, Leah Silverman holds a Master's in Fine Arts from Columbia University's Creative Writing Program and her work has appeared in Catapult, Town & Country, Women's Health, and Publishers Weekly.
Cite This Article
Redmond, Caroline. "66 Side-By-Side Shots Of Biopic Stars And The Real People They Portrayed." AllThatsInteresting.com, October 13, 2018, https://allthatsinteresting.com/biopic-transformations. Accessed April 19, 2024.