23 Incredible Photos Of Actors Vs. The Historical Figures They Played

These A-listers nailed the whole acting thing.

1. Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray

Universal Studios

Getty / Hulton Archive

 

Fun Fact: In order for Ray Charles to read the screenplay and work with production, the script was translated into braille.

2. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in Capote

A-Line Pictures

Getty Images PhotoQuest

 

Fun Fact: The film was released on Sept. 30, the same date as Truman Capote’s birthday.

3. Daniel Day‑Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln

20th Century Fox

Getty Images / Alexander Gardner / Stringer

 

Fun Fact: Liam Neeson almost had the role of Abraham Lincoln. So basically, Taken with Abe.

4. Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo in Frida

Lions Gate Films

Gettyu / Hulton Archive

 

Fun fact: Edward Norton did rewrites for the script, but went uncredited.

5. Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose

Légende Films

Getty / Hulton Archive

 

Fun fact: Marion Cotillard shaved her hairline to look more like Edith Piaf, and completely shaved off her eyebrows. It took nearly five hours to get in full makeup.

6. Denzel Washington as Malcolm X in Malcolm X

40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks

Getty / FPG / Archive

 

Fun fact: Spike Lee thought Malcolm X was so important, he wanted kids to skip school if that meant getting to see the film.

7. Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb as Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen in Sid and Nancy

The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Getty Images / Hulton Archive

 

Fun Fact: Every member of Guns n Roses was cast as extras in the film.

8. Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan in I’m Not There

Endgame Entertainment

Getty Images Express Newspapers

 

Fun fact: Cate Blanchett stuffed a sock in her pants to feel more like a guy and it helped her “walk like a man,” too.

9. John Hurt as Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man

Paramount Pictures

 

Fun Fact: The production crew used actual body casts of John Merrick to closely replicate the makeup on John Hurt.

10. Gretchen Mol as Bettie Page in The Notorious Bettie Page

HBO Films

Getty Images Archive Photos

 

Fun Fact: Hugh Hefner set up a private screening of the film for Bettie Page. She loved it, but said she was never “notorious.”

11. Geoffrey Rush as Peter Sellers in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

HBO FIlms

Getty Images / Harold Clements / Hulton Archive

 

Fun Fact: Geoffrey Rush initially turned down the project, knowing it was a “character actor’s dream.”

12. Bruno Ganz as Adolf Hitler in Downfall

Newmarket Capital Group

Getty Images / Hulton Archive

 

Fun Fact: To prep for the role, Bruno Ganz studied one of the only recordings of Adolf Hitler speaking in his normal voice. He said it wasn’t “the screaming orator we are used to, but a soft, attractive voice, a calm baritone.”

13. Ben Kingsley as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Gandhi

Columbia Pictures

AFP / Getty Images STR

 

Fun Fact: Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of the historical figure was so accurate, viewers called him “Gandhi’s ghost.”

14. Johnny Depp as Edward D. Wood Jr. in Ed Wood

Touchstone Pictures

 

Fun fact: The film cost more to make than all of Ed Wood’s movies combined.

15. Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin

TriStar Pictures

Moviestore Collection/Re/REX USA Moviestore Collection/Re/REX USA

 

Fun Fact: Robert Downey Jr. watched every Charlie Chaplin movie to prep for the role.

16. Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos in Monster

Columbia Pictures

 

Fun fact: Charlize Theron opted to gain nearly 30 pounds to get into character and feel how the serial killer felt about her body.

17. Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon

Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

Courtesy Everett Collection

 

Fun Fact:Jim Carrey stayed in character throughout the entire production process and refused to be called anything but “Andy.”

18. Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull

United Artists

Getty Images Keystone

 

Fun Fact: Robert DeNiro gained nearly 60 pounds for the later half of the film, and did it by eating pasta, butter, and endless treats in Italy.

19. Michael Douglas as Liberace in Behind the Candelabra

HBO

Evening Standard / Stringer / Getty

 

Fun Fact: Robin Williams was considered for the role of Liberace.

20. Jennifer Lopez as Selena Quintanilla in Selena

Warner Bros.

 

Fun Fact: In order to prep for the role, Jennifer Lopez became close with Selena’s family and had them watch and critique her scenes.

21. Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock in Hitchcock

Getty Images / Hulton Archive / Archive Photos

 

Fun Fact: The makeup artists went through six different prosthetics to get the perfect look by the first day of shooting.

22. Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in Get on Up

Imagine Entertainment

Getty Images CBS Photo Archive

 

Fun Fact: Chadwick Boseman is actually dancing the entire film and trained five days a week to emulate Brown’s infamous moves.

23. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as Jane and Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything

Working Title Films

 

Fun Fact: Eddie Redmayne met Stephen Hawking to prep for the film, and said the hardest part about playing the genius was shooting the film out of chronological order. Redmayne explained to Entertainment Weekly, “it was about having to really try and chart his physical deterioration [so] you can jump into it day-to-day, whilst at the same time keeping this spark and wit and humor that he has.”

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