12 Movie Characters That Were Based On People From Real Life

Every form of creativity has a muse. Even though we enjoy diving into the fictional world of imaginary characters and stories, let us not forget that writers often get inspired by their surroundings. They are the silent readers who watch society and break down human and animal psychology. Some of them are excellent at translating those observations and imaginations into films and stories. In fact, many of your favorite characters are also inspired by real people. These humans were so interesting that the creators couldn’t help but include them in their stories. Find out the 12 movie characters that were based on people from real life.

 1. Don Draper

The iconic Don Draper of ‘Mad Men’ of the small screen was too perfect to be true. But he was written after the head of Leo Burnett Worldwide, the global advertising agency from Chicago, Draper ‘Dan’ Daniels. Draper was a legend in real life as well which eventually caught the eyes of Hollywood. However, the marriage story of Don Draper on the show had no connection with his real life.

 2. Rocky

Chuck Wepnor was an alcohol salesman and boxer who inspired the character Rocky, played by Sylvester Stallone. While Rocky’s ultimate challenge was against Apollo Creed to become the world champion, Chuck Wepnor’s fight was against none other than the great Muhammed Ali.

 3. Frank Costello

Jack Nicholson’s Frank Costello in ‘The Departed’ was based on James Bulgar. Both of the bad guys turned out to be FBI agents. In fact, Bulgar’s friends also helped in creating the character in the movie.

 4. Norman Bates

One of the creepiest nutjobs in the biggest psychological-horror, Psycho was Norman Bates. If his single glance gives you goosebumps then wait for his inspiration Ed Gein who was way worse and eerier than the movie character. Gein used to visit graveyards to dig dead women’s bodies and offer them to his dead mother. In fact, the Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was based on him.

 5. 50 First Dates

Drew Barrymore’s Lucy was suffering from short-term memory loss after an accident which prompted her partner to take her out on their first date each day. It was taken from Michelle Philpots’ real-life story where she has to refer to her wedding photos, notes, and GPS every day.

 6. Dave Toschi

Movie Characters Based On Real People
Movie Characters Based On Real People

It’s no news that David Fincher’s Zodiac was based on a real-life serial killer. Hence, Mark Ruffalo’s Dave Toschi who was hellbent on catching the Zodiac killer was also based on a real-life Dave Toschi. Toschi inspired more movies in Hollywood with his unique skills and mind. He was the idea behind Bullitt and Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry.

 7. Severus Snape

The chemistry teacher of Wyedean School, John Nettleship was just getting familiarized with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter when someone knocked on his door and said “You’re Severus Snape”. As he shared this incident with his wife, even she couldn’t lie to his face. The furious, evil-like, stiff-faced and long-haired Professor Snape was based on the real-life chemistry teacher of Rowling, John Nettleship. In fact, she hated her chemistry classes so much that she located the Potions classroom in the gloomy dungeons.

 8. Travis Bickle

Robert DeNiro’s iconic yet freaky character Travis Bickle from “Taxi Driver” existed in real life. His name was Arthur Bremer who assassinated presidential candidate George Wallace. He had also attempted to kill Former President Richard Nixon but failed due to the Secret Service.

 9. Jabba the Hutt

Movie Characters Based On Real People
Movie Characters Based On Real People

The slug-like and repulsive gangster of Star Wars Universe, Jabba was written after Sydney Greenstreet. Not only was Jabba designed like Sydney, but his character was also influence by the actor’s underworld roles in crime movies, especially Casablanca.

 10. Popeye

The iconic cartoon character Popeye was based on someone who belonged to the creator’s hometown. According to people, he was a tough man who was always ready on his feet to fight. They added that whenever kids tried to scare him while he was asleep, he would “jump out of his chair, arms flailing, ready for a fight”.

 11. Butters

Animation director of ‘South Park’, Eric Stough was the idea behind Butters. His super-polite and sweet attitude had managed to peeve the creators and turn them against him. They used to bully him on the sets and decided to create a similar character on the show who’d be picked on by other kids.

  12. Nacho Libre

Movie Characters Based On Real People
Movie Characters Based On Real People

Jack Black’s titular character in ‘Nacho Libre’ was taken from a real-life priest named, Sergio Gutierrez Benitez. He was also a professional wrestler who used to get on the ring in mask and used whatever money he won to support orphan children. He was no less than a hero to the locals.


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