Take A Look At Actors And The Real-Life People They Portrayed On The Big Screen!

Being a big-time actor or actress is a dream come true for many individuals. Once you make it to that mountaintop, you start taking on characters that you might not necessarily be prepared for, but it’s what you signed up to do. One of the most demanding roles that any star can do is a biopic. Not only do you have to look the part, but you have become that character. What did he or she do, consume, or even how did they walk? Continue reading to see the resemblance these stars had with the real-life people they played on the big screen, and what it took to portray them.

Natalie Portman As Jackie Kennedy

jackie natalie portman
LD Entertainment/Bettmann / Contributor
LD Entertainment/Bettmann / Contributor

“I read every biography I could get my hands on,” Natalie Portman told Business Insider. “And we recreated a lot of the White House tour for the film, so that was helpful to see how she walks and how she moves and her facial expressions.”

That’s some of the insight provided by Portman regarding her role as Jackie Kennedy in the film Jackie. The two almost look identical, and her performance drew a ton of praise. At first, Portman felt that acting as the former first lady was daunting, but she managed to handle it well.

Jamie Foxx As Ray Charles

ray charles ray
Bristol Bay Productions/REPORTERS ASSOCIES / Contributor
Bristol Bay Productions/REPORTERS ASSOCIES / Contributor

“We played the blues together,” Jamie Foxx told the AP. “He said, ‘If you can play the blues, then you can play this part.’ So we played the blues.” Playing the blues with Ray Charles was only one of the extra steps he took to get comfortable with the role. Foxx also watched hours of interviews and concerts.

Even when he hit a few wrong notes, Charles still gave him his blessing. Foxx revealed that when he finally got it right, Charles jumped up and said: “The kid’s got it!” All the work paid off, as Foxx won an Oscar for his performance.

Tom Hanks As Sully Sullenberger

sully sullenberger Sully
Flashlight Films/Matthew Eisman / Contributor
Flashlight Films/Matthew Eisman / Contributor

“What a hero,” Tom Hanks said. “The real emotional spine of it I had no concept of. He was a humble, smiling hero who just did his job, and that’s all I knew.”

We all know Hanks to be a standup entertainer with a good heart, so being a hero was easy for him. In fact, Hanks said that the hardest part about playing Sully Sullenberger was pulling off his iconic hair. That’s not a complaint you hear every day!

Christian Bale As Michael Burry

michael burry the big short
Regency Enterprises/Andrew Toth / Contributor
Regency Enterprises/Andrew Toth / Contributor

If you have no clue what The Big Short is about, it offers a behind-the-scenes look at the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Christian Bale played Michael Burry, who was the only person who gave a warning about the imminent economic collapse.

“He’s a man who knows himself incredibly well, and has a brain unlike any brain I’ve ever come across in my life, and who has not only this great understanding and love of numbers but incredible emotion for the consequences,” said Bale.

Meryl Streep As Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher the iron lady
Pathé/Richard Baker / Contributor
Pathé/Richard Baker / Contributor

“I take my entire performance from them,” Meryl Streep said, “so if they don’t look at me and hate me appropriately or love me the way they’re supposed to or find, you know, an old face but see the young one underneath, then I’m lost.”

Streep is one of those actresses that steps into a role like no other. She has the “whatever it takes” mindset, and it shows in her work. There’s no secret as to why she won an Oscar for her portrayal as the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

Daniel Day-Lewis As Abraham Lincoln

lincoln daniel day-lewis
DreamWorks Pictures/Historical / Contributor
DreamWorks Pictures/Historical / Contributor

Is it possible for anyone else to look as identical to Abraham Lincoln as Daniel Day-Lewis did? Day-Lewis approached his role for Lincoln with thoughtful exploration. He consumed more than 100 books in a year and read Lincoln’s speeches out loud as he prepped himself. He also reflected heavily on the portraits of the former president.

“I looked at them the way you sometimes look at your own reflection in a mirror and wonder who that person is looking back at you,” he told the New York Times.

Robert Downey Jr. As Charlie Chaplin

chaplin robert downey
Carolco Pictures/Witzel / Stringer
Carolco Pictures/Witzel / Stringer

Well before he made a splash on the big screen as the superhero Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. studied Charlie Chaplin. He was tasked with playing the silent film star in 1992’s Chaplin, and Downey says it was difficult.

“It was challenge on top of challenge and frustration on top of frustration,” Downey told the LA Times. Still, he didn’t give up during his year of studying Chaplin’s films and iconic movements. Downey also mastered that famous British accent.

Emma Stone As Billie Jean King

billie jean king emma stone
Decibel Films/Bettmann / Contributor
Decibel Films/Bettmann / Contributor

Getting in shape to play one of the most influential athletes ever was no easy task. Emma Stone was ready for it. Stone portrayed Billie Jean King in the 2017 film Battle of the Sexes, and she knew it wasn’t an ordinary role.

“Playing Billie Jean was a bit of a game-changer,” she told Marie Claire. To help look the part, Stone put on 15 pounds of muscle to further emulate an elite tennis star.

Will Smith As Muhammad Ali

ali film
Peter Brandt / Staff/Focus On Sport / Contributor
Peter Brandt / Staff/Focus On Sport / Contributor

Will Smith has been a part of plenty of memorable and iconic movies in his day. From Bad Boys to Pursuit of Happyness (where he portrayed Chris Gardner), perhaps his most iconic portrayal is that of Muhammad Ali in Ali.

Smith was in his prime when this movie came out in 2001, so his physical appearance matches Ali’s almost perfectly. He also got down the talking cadence of the champ as well, which brought an added authenticity to the film.

Ashton Kutcher As Steve Jobs

jobs steve ashton kutcher
Five Star Feature Films/Tom Munnecke / Contributor
Five Star Feature Films/Tom Munnecke / Contributor

There were many reasons why Ashton Kutcher took on the role of Steve Jobs in the film Jobs. Many of them were personal choices, but one thing stood out from the rest, and that’s what helped him do such a great job.

"I wanted to remind entrepreneurs that Steve Jobs wasn’t always ‘Steve Jobs,’ that he struggled, that he failed, and that he rigorously persevered to build something great to improve other people’s lives," Kutcher said. He also consumed what Jobs did at a high clip, and that included eating the food and reading the books the Apple legend did.

Joaquin Phoenix As Johnny Cash

cash johnny joaquin phoenix
Fox 2000 Pictures/Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer
Fox 2000 Pictures/Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer

If there’s anyone in Hollywood who knows how to get into character, it’s Joaquin Phoenix. Set to become the latest Joker, Phoenix knows a thing or two about learning a new style. For Walk the Line, he had to overcome some obstacles.

“It was completely foreign to me,” Phoenix said about attempting to recreate his sound. “My voice would simply give out.” Phoenix also had to learn to play the guitar on top of singing, and he says that was “real, real slow.”

Walter Matthau As Albert Einstein

einstein Walter Matthau
Paramount Pictures/ Bettmann / Contributor
Paramount Pictures/ Bettmann / Contributor

The late comedian Walter Matthau did an outstanding job pulling off Albert Einstein in the ’94 film I.Q. When he arrived in the hometown of the genius, everyone knew Einstein and gave him some reliable recommendations on how to best play the role.

“One woman told me I was walking the wrong way,” Matthau told the LA Times. “She told me, ‘This is the way Einstein walked.’ Another said, ‘Yeah, but you’re bending over too much, and he walked faster.'”

Andre 3000 As Jimi Hendrix

jimi hendrix andre 3000
Darko Entertainment/Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer
Darko Entertainment/Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer

Musically and appearance-wise, there couldn’t have been a better fit to play Jimi Hendrix in the movie Jimi: All Is by My Side. Just as Jimi Hendrix impacted so many artists after him, Andre 3000 has done the same, only in different genres. Still, Andre 300 had to undergo some serious training to get the look right.

"To get that gait, to move in that way, I had to feel that way," the artist explained to Rolling Stone. "I worked out twice a week and ate just enough calories to keep myself going."

Ben Kingsley As Gandhi

gandhi ben Kingsley
Goldcrest Films/Bettmann / Contributor
Goldcrest Films/Bettmann / Contributor

If you’re going to have someone play a person whose impact in history won’t ever be forgotten, finding an actor that looks exactly like him is essential. Ben Kingsley was tapped to play Gandhi in the self-titled film from 1982, and he didn’t disappoint.

“When I have totally immersed myself in the mechanical, logical preparation of a part, if I and my craft are totally bonded and fully exploited, something else in me is awakened and begins to inform my work,” Kingsley told The New York Times.

Val Kilmer As Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison val kilmer
Bill Graham Films/Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer
Bill Graham Films/Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer

Val Kilmer did more than just change his hair from blonde to long, dark, and wavy to prepare for his role as Jim Morrison in The Doors. The 1991 biopic had Kilmer really getting into character, so much that he tricked a few people in the process.

The Doors’ producer Paul Rothchild told a story about early on in the process that’s quite amazing. “Early on,” Rothschild told The Washington Post, “I’d bring them [The Doors] into a recording studio, and I randomly switched Val and Jim and they guessed wrong 80 percent of the time.”

Will Smith As Chris Gardner

chris gardner
ghostinkyrie/Twitter
ghostinkyrie/Twitter

One of Will Smith’s most emotional roles to date, his portrayal as Chris Gardener was near flawless. Something that made the task more believable is his real son, Jaden Smith, played his fictional son as well. We have watery eyes just thinking about The Pursuit of Happyness.

"I connected with Chris Gardner," Smith said. "We looked in one another’s eyes. I said, ‘I’m going to learn your story and I’m going to tell your story.’ And he said, ‘Just tell the truth.’ I went and found the truth."

Sienna Miller As Edie Sedgwick

Edie Sedgwick sienna miller
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/John Springer Collection / Contributor
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/John Springer Collection / Contributor

It’s almost as if Sienna Miller was built for this role. She looks so much like Edie Sedgwick it’s almost creepy in the 2006 film, Factory Girl. The only thing that Miller wasn’t prepared to do was starve herself for this part.

“See, I love my food, and I can’t work eight-hour days and not eat,” Miller explained to IndieLondon, “So I was a little bit more curvy than Edie.” We think that’s fair enough.

Cate Blanchett As Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan Im not there
Endgame Entertainment/Fiona Adams / Contributor
Endgame Entertainment/Fiona Adams / Contributor

You’d be hard-pressed trying to find a better Bob Dylan than Cate Blanchett. There hasn’t been a better portrayal of the Nobel Prize winner than Blanchett in 2007’s I’m Not There. The actor spoke of Dylan with a unique tenderness.

"He was a creature," Blanchett explained to The Guardian. "You see him jumping around in Don’t Look Back and he’s completely androgynous … If a man played the role, people would have assessed it in a different way." She says being a woman helped escalate the movie even more.

Eddie Redmayne As Stephen Hawking

hawking Eddie Redmayne
Working Title Films/Brian Vander Brug / Contributor
Working Title Films/Brian Vander Brug / Contributor

Portraying one of the smartest men in history couldn’t have been a walk in the park. Still, Eddie Redmayne did a stellar job at bringing the essence of Stephen Hawking to the big screen in The Theory of Everything. It was one of Redmayne’s most challenging roles.

Director James Marsh pushed Redmayne to his limits. "It was often quite uncomfortable to see what he had to do," Marsh explained. "He internalized the part. It took its toll physically, he was inhabiting an illness, which is a complicated thing to do."

Philip Seymour Hoffman As Truman Capote

Truman Capote Philip Seymour
United Artists/Bettmann / Contributor
United Artists/Bettmann / Contributor

Here we have another actor that looked stunningly like the person he portrayed on the screen. Philip Seymour Hoffman took a stab at Truman Capote in the film Capote and didn’t miss the mark. He knew he was built for the role since the start.

“When I started seeing pictures of him in his personal environment, not his public one, his hair and his complexion were very similar to mine,” Hoffman told The Telegraph. “I lost a lot of weight, and I got as thin as I could.” It’s not like he’s a boxer. Losing weight isn’t as easy as he would have us believe.