11 Biopic Reactions From Their Real-Life Subjects

president's men

Carl Bernstein (All the President’s Men)

Personally, I’m more interested in what Woodward and Bernstein think of the 1999 comedy Dick, but the two have always had kind things to say about All The President’s Men. “I think that a film is 120 minutes or a little bit more, so everything is compressed,” Bernstein said, when asked about the cinematic portrayal of Deep Throat. “Various weight is given to aspects of what happened. I think it trivializes it a bit to call it a ‘Hollywood touch,’ because I think it adds some drama and glue to the movie. The great thing about this movie is — not that it’s about the book, but that it shows the process of reporting. It shows the methodology. This was no glamorous thing where we marched out and went to high-level sources who worked in the White House. This was about getting ahold of lists, figuring out who worked where, and obtaining from the information that came from the sheer terror that you see of those people we approached — and that told us what this thing really means. In this movie, you see what reporting is.”


Art Howe (Moneyball)

Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is the main subject of director Bennett Miller‘s Moneyball, and he was played as a hero in a flawed system. Art Howe, depicted as somewhat of an adversary of Beane’s, wasn’t enthusiastic about how he came off in the movie. “First of all, Philip Seymour Hoffman physically didn’t resemble me in any way,” Howe said. “He was a little on the heavy side. And just the way he portrayed me was very disappointing and probably 180 degrees from what I really am, so that was disappointing too… I’ve spent my whole career trying to build a good reputation and be a good baseball man and someone who people like to play for and all of the above. Then in two hours, people who don’t know me —and Brad Pitt’s a big name, [so] people are going to see his movies —and all these people across the country are going to go in and get this perception of me that’s totally unfair and untruthful. So I’m very upset.” 

At the end of the day, it’s a great movie, and Howe is a strong character, a man who slowly accepts change. He’s not the most empathetic character in the film, but there’s actually a deleted scene from Moneyball that paints the former Athletics manager in a more sympathetic light. 


Howard Stern (Private Parts)

There’s no shortage of examples of actors riffing on their images in movies. Private Parts is a rare case in which the subject of the bio film plays himself. The movie turned out far better than people expected, partly because of Stern’s ambition to tell a story he’d be proud of. “When I wrote my book, I never imagined it’d be a Hollywood film,” Stern stated while promoting the film. “Absolutely could not imagine that. To write a book was one of the most difficult things I ever did. When it was done, Hollywood came knocking and said, ‘We want to turn this into a movie.’ How? How can you do it? I sign with a studio, and I was smart, because I had script approval — that was the one smart thing I did. I went through 22 scripts over a two-year period. They would come to me and say, ‘You’ve cost us millions of dollars. Why are you doing this? You know you’re afraid of making this picture. You’re scared.’ I said, ‘I’m not scared. I’m the guy who flew down on MTV and bared his butt cheeks to the world, and they’re not pretty. I’m not afraid of anything, but I’m afraid to do a bad movie, if I’m afraid of anything. These movies are bad. As many millions as you’ve spent developing this script, it’s going to cost you more to make this movie; it’s going to be a bomb.'”

You know who else wanted to play themselves in their bio film? Jake LaMotta (Raging Bull).


David Letterman (The Late Shift)

Apparently David Letterman never saw the HBO movie The Late Shift, but he did see a clip he wasn’t keen on. “I’ve seen a clip reel, and it’s just bizarre,” the retired talk show host said. “The guy [John Michael Higgins] who’s playing me – and I’m sure he’s a fine actor – but his interpretation seems to be that I’m, well, a circus chimp. He looks like he’s insane, like he’s a budding psychopath. And afterward I thought, Well, maybe this is how I strike people as being. Somebody just sneaked [the clip] out to us, so we could all gather round and see it for our amusement. Which wasn’t much, by the way.” Letterman is right — Higgins is a fine actor, and he actually slightly regrets playing Letterman.

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