On June 21, a redditor who goes by the handle i124qnds did the internet a favor by creating this massive album of famous people who have gotten the biopic movie treatment, paired with the actors who stepped into their shoes. It's a nice example of why the internet stays great, even after you've spent hours, days, even years falling down rabbit hole after rabbit hole on the site while your family gives up on you and eventually moves out and goes on without you. But it's all worth it, because now you can forward them a link of historical people and the actors who portrayed them onscreen.
1. Ludwig van Beethoven/Gary Oldman
Although the music that is used in the film was played by someone else, Gary Oldman actually learned to play piano for his role in Immortal Beloved. He is rumored to have practiced six hours a day for six weeks on a Steinway in his hotel. Because that's just the kind of dedicated actor Oldman is. No word on whether or not he actually shot heroin when he played Sid Vicious in Sid & Nancy, but probably not. Probably.
2. Little Edie/Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore campaigned really hard for the role of Edith Bouvier Beale in HBO's Grey Gardens (based on the Maysles Brothers' documentary of the same name). Like, really, really hard. She ended up preparing for over a year before filming began, working with dialect coaches and reading Edie's journals. She went on to win a Golden Globe for her performance. So, YES, Drew Barrymore can frickin' act. As she told Starpulse,
I went a little insane, because I just lived and breathed her. I thought that if the crew heard me talk the way I talk, they would think I was acting when I was being her and they wouldn't believe me. They would see that it wasn't real. I only spoke to people as her and I isolated myself because she was isolated. I just tried to be her in every way I could. I realized what a dramatically emotional person she was. She had these great highs, great lows, she acts like a woman, but she talks like a little girl. She says that she wants to get the hell out of here but she never did. She is a walking contradiction on every level. You are always being and doing something different. That push and pull is very emotionally wearing. I understood why she was in such turmoil all the time. I just loved getting to have a challenge that was this big. I've never been given this opportunity. I was like, "Dammit, I'm going to everything I can to rise to the occasion."
3. Abraham Lincoln/Daniel Day-Lewis
Day-Lewis was always director Steven Spielberg’s first choice to play Lincoln, but he turned down the role several times. He went so far as to recommend Liam Neeson before finally giving in and accepting once Spielberg had the script re-written by Tony Kushner. At least no one had to carry him around the set, like in My Left Foot.
4. Bob Dylan/Cate Blanchett
In Dylan, director Todd Haynes had a total of six different people play the title role, including a 13-year-old black teenager, but one who made a lot of waves with her performance was the formidable Cate Blanchett. She told the New York Times:
He was the reason I wanted to be involved in the project. And it’s very rare that you read a script that is as impenetrable as this was, because it was completely and utterly inside Todd’s brain. He’d worked out every shot, every juxtaposition of image. It was really like a operatic score, there were so many instruments playing.
5. Malcolm X/Denzel Washington
In an interview with Dallas Morning News, Washington said of the role: "I play three—no, four—no, five, maybe more Malcolms in this movie. But they're all one Malcolm, just different segments of him. See what I mean about it being the role of a lifetime?"
6. Selena Quintanilla Pérez/Jennifer Lopez
Speaking to Billboard in 2015 about why Selena Quintanilla is still such a beloved figure 20 years after her untimely death at the age of 23, Lopez said:
The grace with which she handled the business, the grace with which she handled her life, the humor. Her spirit of loving what she did. Her sense of family. That's the tragedy of everything that happened and why she left such an imprint—because she was gone way too soon.
7. Hunter S. Thompson/Johnny Depp
Depp became really good friends with Thompson while preparing for the role, which is not at all surprising if you know anything about either of them. In fact, Thompson had the honor of shaving Depp's head for the role.
8. Frida Kahlo/Salma Hayek
Speaking about Kahlo, Hayek (who produced the film) told The Guardian: "What I respond to with Frida is her courage to be unique; her courage to be different. She lived her life exactly as she wanted and never apologized." Hayek's performance in Frida earned her an Oscar nomination for best actress, but she lost out to Nicole Kidman's turn as Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Goddamn Australians coming here and stealing all our Oscars.
9. Stephen Hawking/Eddie Redmayne
Redmayne won the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of Hawking in The Theory of Everything, which is only just slightly more prestigious than the shout-out he got from Hawking on Facebook.
10. Andy Kaufman/Jim Carrey
In an interview with Contact Music, Bob Zmuda (the late Andy Kaufman's best friend) explained why Man on the Moon's director Milos Forman cast Jim Carrey in the role of Kaufman over the many other actors vying for the part:
Milos did a very smart thing when he cast this movie. He said he wasn't going to make it unless (affecting Forman's deep German brogue), "who evah plays Andy makes audition tape." Well, I'm not going to give you the names, but a few of those guys went (now in a grumbly voice), "I'm not making no audition tape."
So my phone rings one day (and it's Jim Carrey). He says he's made an audition tape for Milos and will I come over to his place to see it. I must tell you, I was not a believer in the beginning. This was before Truman Show, by the way, so I thought he was going to be eating the scenery. (But) the tape is not on for one minute and I'm crying like a baby. If somebody had given me this tape and not told me it was Jim Carrey, I would have thought it was Andy. It was remarkable. (During) filming, he started exhibiting Kaufman-esque behavior that none of us had told him about, which freaked us out. It really freaked out Lynn [Margulies, Andy's girlfriend, played by Courtney Love in the movie).
That's just a smattering of the photos, there are a lot more. Take a look at the whole gallery here: