11 Biopic Reactions From Their Real-Life Subjects


Harvey Pekar (American Splendor)

American Splendor is one of the more creative bio films we’ve seen in the last 20 years. Obviously, based on the interviews in the film with the comic book writer, Pekar had some involvement. “I mean, I didn’t really make any decisions [on the movie],” he told The AV Club. “They chose the cast. The directors had a special vision for how they wanted to do the thing, so they were the only ones who could write the script, and I didn’t have anything to do with that. I wasn’t used as an advisor, or anything like that. I just used to go down to the set and hang around and mooch free meals and talk to the people there that I liked. [For the story] there were some changes made to protect people’s identities, and to make it possible to get the whole thing into the time they had allowed. They telescoped a few events and stuff, but it’s quite true to the feeling of the story, and to the actual facts of the story. As improbable as that may seem. All the stuff about Joyce and me and our courtship, that’s true.”


Henry Hill (Goodfellas)

The deceased mobster is fond of the movie. Watching interviews with Hill later on his life, like the depressing-as-hell one he did with Howard Stern, he’s not as charismatic as Ray Liotta‘s depiction of his younger years. “[Martin Scorsese] didn’t want me to talk to him before [the movie],” Liotta said. “So after the movie, I got a call to meet him at a bowling alley in the Valley in California, with his brother. So I go to the bowling alley and there’s Henry — I knew him from pictures. And the first thing he says to me was, ‘Thanks for making me not look like a scumbag.’ And I said, ‘Did you see the movie?'”

What’s strange is, despite Liotta not communicating with Hill, Robert De Niro frequently sought out advisement from the the gangster. “I’d seen Mean Streets three or four times,” Hill told Empire. “In fact, I took Paulie (Joe Pesci) to see Mean Streets! But he liked the cowboy movies. He’d always root for the bad guys. He liked the shoot-’em-ups. John Waynes and shit. De Niro wouldn’t even do a scene without talking to me. ‘How did Jimmy hold his cigarette? How did Jimmy hold his shot glass? How many drinks did Jimmy have before he went a little fuckin’ crazy?’”

Hill claims “95%” of Goodfellas is true.

patch adams

Hunter “Patch” Adams (Patch Adams

Nobody likes Patch Adams. Well, nobody I know of likes Patch Adams, including the film’s subject, Hunter Adams. “After the movie, there wasn’t a single positive article about our work or me,” he said. “There were dumb, stupid, meaningless things… it made my children cry. They actually thought that they didn’t know the person they were reading about… I knew the movie would do this. I would become a funny doctor. Imagine how shallow that is relative to who I am. I just got back from taking 17 clowns to Cuba, which was hit by the worst hurricane in their history. The month before that, we took 30 clowns from seven countries, ages 16 to 65, to Russia for the 17th year in a row.”

buffalo roam

Hunter S. Thompson (Where the Buffalo Roam)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is considered the quintessential portrait of Hunter S. Thompson. Terry Gilliam‘s adaptation of Thompson’s novel isn’t a bio movie, but it captured the writer’s spirit and writing. The real Thompson biopic, Where the Buffalo Roam, isn’t half as bad as the writer says it is, but it’s also not as cherished as Gilliam’s high-energy, surreal picture. “Horrible pile of crap,” Thompson called Where the Buffalo Roam. “[BillMurray did a good job. But it was a bad script. You can’t beat a bad script. It was just a horrible movie. A cartoon. But Bill Murray did a good job. We actually wrote and shot several different endings and beginnings and they all got cut out in the end. It was disappointing. Not to mention that I have to live with it. It’s like go into a bar somewhere and people start to giggle and you don’t know why, and they’re all watching that fucking movie.” Murray is charismatic in the role, but Depp nailed Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — and, to a lesser extent, in The Rum Diary.

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