11 Biopic Reactions From Their Real-Life Subjects

Biopic reactions

It can’t be easy watching a movie about your life. Some people get extremely agitated when pivotal parts of their favorite book aren’t in the film adaptation, so imagine what’d be like for those people seeing an unfaithful or highly dramatized version of their own life shown on the big screen. The movie, especially if it’s popular, is going to be associated with their image forever. Not all audience members leave a theater saying, “I bet that one scene was dramatized for storytelling purposes,” so, if the portrait of its subject is unflattering or inaccurate, that can’t feel great for the subject.

Many folks featured in bio movies have felt left the theater not feeling so hot on how they’ve been depicted, while others have been pleased with the results. Learn about a few biopic reactions from the subjects after the jump.

When making a bio film, there’s a responsibility to both the real-life figures, and more importantly, telling a compelling story. Sometimes the two responsibilities clash. There are plenty of fantastic bio films that departed from the facts, while there’s no shortage of bad bio movies that didn’t depart enough. Since it’s awards season, we’re seeing a handful of movies from the genre, if you can call it that, and the best one thus far is Steve Jobs. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin took a lot of liberties with Jobs’ real-life story, and for the better. The same can be said for Sorkin’s other film, The Social Network, which Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t pleased with…

The Social Network

Mark Zuckerberg (The Social Network)

Zuckerberg was never shy about his thoughts on David Fincher‘s film. “It’s interesting what stuff they focused on getting right,” the Facebook CEO said. “Like every single fleece and shirt I had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own. You know, so there’s all this stuff that they got wrong, and a bunch of random details that they got right. The thing that I think is actually most thematically interesting that they got wrong is — the whole framing of the movie, kind of the way that it starts is, I’m with this girl who doesn’t exist in real life, who dumps me, which has happened to me in real life, a lot — and basically to frame it as if the whole reason for making Facebook and building something was because I wanted to get girls or wanted to get into some sort of social institution. And the reality for people who know me is that I’ve actually been dating the same girl since before I started Facebook, so obviously that’s not a part of it. But I think it’s such a big disconnect from the way people who make movies think about what we do in Silicon Valley — building stuff. They just can’t wrap their head around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things.”


Chuck Barris (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind)

The Gong Show host’s life as a CIA hitman has always been called into question. Whether it’s true or not, his stranger-than-fiction story made for actor George Clooney‘s excellent directorial debut. “Once Clooney became the director, he said to me — which I thought was terrific — that if there was anything I didn’t like, or anything I didn’t want, to tell him, and then he’d do his best to change it or get it out,” Barris said. “One of the things was that [screenwriter] Charlie [Kaufman] had me as a drug addict. In the original script, I was a druggie, and that’s something I never, ever did. I had this tremendous horror about drugs. I was a big extremist: If I chewed a pack of gum, I chewed 20 packs. I knew that if I ever touched drugs, I’d be a junkie, and I had a public company to run, with a bunch of shows on the air. There was too much to lose to fool around with something like that. So it was a perception of myself that I did not want, and that was taken out. I didn’t mind if it looked like I drank or I smoked. I didn’t care about that.”

Barris minded the drugs and the drinking, not so much the other fictitious (and odder parts) of the film. “There were a few other little things that kind of escaped my notice that made it into the movie,” he continued. “My mother never dressed me like a girl. That’s a Kaufman-esque thing. My father wasn’t a serial killer. That’s another Kaufman-esque thing. I would have mentioned that to George, but I didn’t, and I don’t think it’s the end of the world. Those are some of the things.”

Clooney would shy away from asking Barris what was true and what wasn’t, as he thought the truth of the story was irrelevant.

Billy Milligan movie

Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street)

“I was blown away,” Belfort revealed to The Hollywood Reporter. “The way he was able to capture my energy, especially during the sales scenes and the speeches. He didn’t try to duplicate my voice as much as my mannerisms, my tonalities and my gestures… The drug use and the stuff with the hookers and the sales assistants and the sex in the office… that stuff is really, really accurate. In some respects, my life was even worse than that. Though I’d say I did more quaaludes than cocaine.”

How could Martin Scorsese get such a detail wrong? Talk about a real lack of attention-to-detail…

“It’s laughable when people say [Scorsese is] glorifying my behavior, because the movie is so obviously an indictment,” Belfort added. “I could have easily been redeemed at the end of the film, because I am redeemed in real life, but [Scorsese] left all that out because he wanted to make a statement — and I respect that. Even though I’ll be the whipping boy for the world.”

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