10 Popular Movie Characters You May Not Are Based On Real People

Movie Characters Based On Real People:

Hollywood works in interesting ways. Even setting aside all the sequels, remakes, and re-imaginings, there’s still a reliance on screenwriters to borrow story ideas from real-life events. Most filmmakers don’t live in a bubble, so when they start brainstorming ideas for their next movie, it makes sense that they’d look to the outside world for a little inspiration. Besides, we all know people in our daily lives who are way more interesting than the typically one-dimensional archetypes that show up in most movies. Chalk it up to that whole “truth is stranger than fiction” idiom. Here is a lot of popular movie characters that were based on real people:

James Franco’s Character From Spring Breakers Is Based On An Actual Rapper

Movie Characters Based On Real People

James Franco has based his portrayal on obscure Florida rapper and human cartoon Dangeruss. Though, if you were following the less respectable news sites following the release of the movie, you’ll know that another rapper by the name of Riff Raff thought he was the inspiration for Franco’s shady emcee. Mostly because the character looks and speaks exactly like him. In fact, if you believe the Texan rapper, director Harmony Korine had approached him about starring in the film before Franco got involved, but the logistics just never worked out. Enter James Franco, who apparently stepped into Riff Raff’s shoes in a very literal way, like he was taking part in a real-life body-switching situation.

Rocky Balboa Was Based On Real Boxer Chuck Wepner

You probably know that the Rocky franchised has a natural connection to the real boxing world. They’ve brought in actual fighters and sportscasters to round out the cast – including Tommy Morrison, Antonio Tarver, and Tony Bellew – and it’s pretty obvious that Carl Weathers’ trash-talking, extra exuberant Apollo Creed is based on Muhammad Ali. But you might not know that Rocky Balboa is based on real-life underdog Chuck Wepner, who once went 15 rounds with Ali in a title fight before losing by TKO with just 19 seconds left. And just like in the movie, Wepner was even able to score a knockdown on the champ. Though, unlike the movie, this was achieved by stepping on Ali’s foot and tripping him. Although his namesake and fighting style was derived from Rocky Marciano – with a little Joe Frazier and Jake LaMotta threw in for good measure – Balboa’s background and underdog personality were modeled entirely on Wepner, who was known as the “Bayonne Bleeder” because of all the punishment he took inside the ring.

Shrek Was Modeled On A Disfigured Pro Wrestler From The 40s

Mind-blower #1: Shrek is actually based on a children’s book of the same name. Mind-blower #2: Bill Murray, Chris Farley, and Nicolas Cage were all in talks, at one point or another, to voice Shrek. Mind-blower #3: The computer-animated ogre was modeled after a French professional wrestler with an overactive pituitary gland. Maurice Tillet, better known by his ring name The French Angel, became a huge draw on the pro-wrestling circuit in the 1940s because of his unusual look. This was due to his acromegaly, a disease shared by fellow pro wrestlers Andre the Giant and The Great Khali, which caused severe thickening of the bones. Though DreamWorks representatives have never officially confirmed the longstanding rumors that Tillet was the model for their titular ogre – probably because that just sounds bad – the facial similarities are uncanny.

Dirty Harry And Bullitt Were Both Based On The Lead Investigator In The Zodiac Killings

Neither “Dirty Harry” Callahan nor Lieutenant Frank Bullitt – arguably Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen’s most iconic characters, respectively – sprung up fully-formed from the screenwriters’ imaginations. Actually, the core concept for the first Dirty Harry movie wasn’t even an original but rather structured around the real-life Zodiac Killer case. For those unfamiliar, the Zodiac was one of the world’s biggest psychopaths in the late 60s and early 70s who bragged – via letters to various newspapers – about all of the people he brutally murdered and even sent a whole slew of cryptic clues to the police that should have led to his arrest. Dirty Harry followed a similar framework, swapping out the names – Toschi became Callahan, and Zodiac became Scorpio (because that’s totally different, you guys) – while pretty much everything else stayed the same. Except, in the end, Dirty Harry killed Scorpio, whereas the real Zodiac case remains unsolved.

Walter From The Big Lebowski Is Based On A Famous Director

Movie Characters Based On Real People

As with so many of the characters in the Coen Brothers’ universe, Walter was gleaned from the real world. This time they pulled from their relationship with director and screenwriter John Milius, who you might know as the author of some of the greatest, most badass lines of dialogue ever uttered in American cinema. Milius wrote the line “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” He came up with Dirty Harry’s “Do you feel lucky?” speech. He wrote Robert Shaw’s monologue about the fate of the U.S.S. Indianapolis for Jaws. Milius is also a self-described “Zen Anarchist”. And although he didn’t serve in Vietnam, that was only because he was rejected due to his chronic asthma. The fact that he, in his own words, “missed going to my war” was demoralizing and made him obsessed with guns and war ever since.

Iron Man Was Based On Howard Hughes And Elon Musk

Movie Characters Based On Real People

Handsome, rich, deeply flawed business magnate innovates flight technology to be used in a military capacity. Quick, who are we talking about? The inventor of the Iron Man suit, Tony Stark, or inventor of the Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes? The answer, of course, is both. Hughes was the perfect inspiration for The Avengers’ leading man, as the peculiar entrepreneur basically hit every checkmark on Stan Lee’s list when the comic book writer started designing his newest superhero. “He was an inventor, an adventurer, a multi-billionaire, a ladies’ man, and finally, a nutcase. Without being crazy, [Tony Stark] was Howard Hughes.” – Stan Lee. Hughes was also an eccentric, whose colorful personality is all over the DNA of the character. Though, luckily, Hughes’ later “eccentricities” – you know, like locking himself in his home theater and peeing into empty bottles for months at a time – have yet to make it into the films.

Jabba The Hutt Was Based On Sydney Greenstreet, An Obese Actor From The 50s

At first glance, the inspiration for Tatooine’s corrupt crime boss would seem to be a giant pile of poo wearing a toad mask on Halloween. But it turns out everyone’s favorite morbidly obese gangster was actually inspired by British actor Sydney Greenstreet, who made his living playing various miscreants in such masterpieces as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. Greenstreet was a big guy. In fact, he was so big that his credited character name in The Maltese Falcon was “The Fat Man”. He also had an incredible knack for embodying seedy criminals who dabbled in slavery and smuggling. Sound familiar? George Lucas’ initial concept for Jabba – which was supposed to debut in A New Hope, a movie with a substantially smaller budget than Return of the Jedi – was basically a fat Irishman wearing half of a Chewbacca suit.

“The Dude” Is Surprisingly, Wonderfully Real

There are some movie characters who are so unbelievably awesome that you’re absolutely certain there’s no one in the real world who could possibly hold a candle to them. One such character is Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, whose propensity for coolness in the face of harsh vibes is usurped only by his love of White Russians. There’s no way someone like The Dude could exist in real life because people in real life aren’t that carefree and karmically on point. And yet, indie movie producer Jeff Dowd goes well beyond being a simple inspiration for The Coen Brothers’ most iconic character, to the point that Jeff Bridges’ laid-back, sweater-wearing essence is less of a “portrayal” and more of a chronicle of Dowd’s being. The Coens met Dowd when he was working in the promotional department on their debut film, Blood Simple. The directors decided to base their principal character in The Big Lebowski on Dowd because he is, as the script states, “a man in whom casualness runs deep”.

Professor X And Magneto Were Based On Martin Luther King Jr. And Malcolm X

The X-Men series has always been one of the more overtly political comic books out there, as it’s pretty apparent the mutants are stand-ins for the oppressed citizens of color that dealt with the same types of intolerance and hatred that Wolverine and company endured. It makes sense then that the two primary leaders of the mutants, Professor X and Magneto, would be modeled after the two biggest leaders of the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Both of these great men sought to eradicate the injustices inflicted upon the marginalized members of society, though the means by which they fought differed greatly. Professor X chose to preach education and coexistence to his people – echoing many of the sentiments that Dr. King included in his famous “I Have A Dream” speech – while Magneto went a bit harsher in his tactics, advocating a sort of mutant supremacy, not unlike the black supremacy Malcolm X embraced during his time with the Nation of Islam.

American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman Is Based On Tom Cruise

Movie Characters Based On Real People

It was revealed in a 2010 interview with author Bret Easton Ellis that the titular psychopath from his novel American Psycho was based, at least in part, on his own hatred of consumerist culture and the tension he felt within himself for chasing after the yuppie version of the “American dream” for so many years. But when it came time to portray the Huey Lewis-loving madman on the big screen, Christian Bale decided to model his performance on the one and only Tom Cruise. Director Mary Harron recalls discussing the “Martian-like” aspects of Bateman’s personality with Bale, specifically how the socially inept head case analyzed other people’s interactions like a pod person, trying to figure out how “normal” humans behave. According to Bale, that trait was very apparent in Tom Cruise, who he’d just seen being interviewed by David Letterman. There was a “very intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes”, which fell in in line perfectly with the vibe Bale wanted to create for the character.

Back to top button