10 Real-Life People Who Bashed Their Biopics
Biography films aren't always the most accurate — or flattering — of endeavors, at least in the eyes of the people the movie's about.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has made plenty of headlines for challenging the accuracy of this week's new release "The Fifth Estate," which explores the origins of the controversial whistle-blowing website. In an open letter to his big-screen counterpart, the ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch, Assange praised the actor but criticized the film.
"I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film," wrote Assange. "I do not believe it is going to be positive for me or the people I care about. I believe that it is going to be overwhelmingly negative for me and the people I care about. It is based on a deceitful book by someone who has a vendetta against me and my organisation."
Assange isn't alone in not being a fan of his own movie. Here are 10 other people who were none too fond of their Hollywood treatments.
1. Michael Oher, "The Blind Side" (2009)
This 2009 sports drama tells the life story of Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), from his impoverished upbringing through his adoption by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy (Tim McGraw and Oscar winner Sandra Bullock), focusing mostly on his transformation from non-athlete to punishing high school football star (he'd eventually be a first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL Draft). It's a rousing inspirational tale if there ever was one, but it didn't make Oher himself, who bristled at "The Blind Side"-related questions on at least one occasion, stand up and cheer.
Speaking before this year's Super Bowl (won by his Ravens), Oher went off: "I'm tired of the movie. I'm here to play football "Football is what got me here and the movie, it wasn't me. I always knew how to play football growing up. It was different personalities, stuff like that. Playing football is what got me to this point."
Oher wrote his own autobiography, "I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to the Blind Side," to set the record straight with what he feels are inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the film.
2. Dr. Hunter Adams, "Patch Adams" (1998)
The movie made a lot of money and the role seemed tailor-made for Robin Williams and his knack for mixing goofy shenanigans with syrupy sentimentality, but the real Dr. Hunter 'Patch' Adams joined a lot of critics in panning the 1998 tearjerker.
Adams found the film to be "shallow" in that it simplified his character into that of "a funny doctor" and did little to raise real-life awareness of his work and causes, particularly with that of the Gesundheit! Institute. And speaking of simplified, Adams summed up his feelings to the late, great Roger Ebert at a Conference of World Affairs as follows: "I hate that movie."
3. Linda Lee Cadwell, "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" (1993)
The 1993 biography film about the greatest martial artist who ever lived (why argue?) had some terrific fight choreography and a spirited performance by Jason Scott Lee, but Bruce Lee's widow, portrayed by Lauren Holly in the film, believes it was more fiction than fact.
"I have mixed feelings about the film," said Linda Lee Cadwell in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Movies. "On the good side I think it hit on the high points of Bruce's life, the turning points, you might say ... [but] the film took some liberties, it changed some facts, it had a mythical figure in it [a phantom samurai played by Sven-Ole Thorsen that haunts Bruce] that I would not have agreed with but that a person can view on different levels. So there were good things and there were some not so good things and I hope that some day a really wonderful film is made about Bruce.
4. Art Howe, "Moneyball" (2011)
"Moneyball" tells the story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the general manager of the Oakland Athletics who utilized a literally game-changing analytical technique to assemble a formidable team on a low budget. It's a fascinating look behind the curtain of America's favorite pastime, but Athletics manager Art Howe, played as one of the film's antagonists by Philip Seymour Hoffman, didn't like the way he was portrayed.
"First of all, Philip Seymour Hoffman physically didn’t resemble me in any way. He was a little on the heavy side," said Howe in an interview with Ultimate Astros. "And just the way he portrayed me was very disappointing and probably 180 degrees from what I really am, so that was disappointing, too."
Art Howe goes further in claiming that both the book and the film did some serious damage to his real-life reputation.
"I think the book ["Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis] hurt me, and now the movie," he said. "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, 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."
5. Mark Zuckerberg, "The Social Network" (2010)
Jesse Eisenberg played Facebook mastermind Mark Zuckerberg as a brilliant and ruthless semi-sociopath in director David Fincher's look at the early days of the soon to be world-changing social networking site, though the real-life punk/traitor/genius/billionaire has less of an issue with the unflattering portrayal than the 'facts' of Aaron Sorkin's Oscar-winning screenplay.
"The whole framing of the movie is I'm with this girl (who doesn't exist in real life) ... who dumps me ... which has happened in real life, a lot," said Mark Zuckerberg while speaking at Stanford University shortly after the film's release. "And basically the framing is that the whole reason for making Facebook is because I wanted to get girls, or wanted to get into clubs."
Hey, at least they nailed his wardrobe. "It's interesting the stuff that they focused on getting right — like every single shirt and fleece they had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own," said Zuckerberg.
[Related: 18 Stars Who Ripped Their Own Films]
6. Mark Schiller, "Pain & Gain" (2013)
In Michael Bay's pitch-black comedy "Pain & Gain," Miami businessman Mark Schiller is reimagined as 'Victor Kershaw,' portrayed by Tony Shalhoub as a vain, rich, womanizing jackass who ever so slightly kind of deserves to be kidnapped, tortured and robbed by a trio of knucklehead bodybuilders. Not surprisingly, Schiller was none too happy with the over-the-top and decidedly unflattering approach to his character.
"It's not who I am," said Schiller to Associated Press, claiming he was married and a homebody at the time of the kidnapping and never smoked cigars. "It's supposed to represent me but it doesn't."
Admittedly, Schiller's criticisms were based on the film's trailers, as he hadn't seen the actual film at the time of the interview — nor did he have any plans to.
"From what I understand, the character that plays me is nothing like I am," said Schiller to NBC Miami. "So, there's no reason for me to see this. I lived it."
7. Queen Elizabeth II & Tony Blair, "The Queen" (2006)
Helen Mirren won the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. And Michael Sheen had played British Prime Minister Tony Blair before, in the 2003 television film "The Deal" (also directed by Stephen Frears) — and would again in the 2010 HBO film, "The Special Relationship." However, the real-life queen and Blair will apparently never be able to attest to the accuracy of the performances of their thespian counterparts, as they made an agreement to never watch "The Queen" ... at least according to Sheen.
"I heard through a fairly reliable source that there was an agreement [the queen] was not going to watch the film and Mr. Blair wasn't going to watch the film, either," said Sheen in 2009 after receiving an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for services to drama from the queen herself.
Sheen says the decision to not watch the film came from its depiction of the aftermath of the 1997 death of Diana, Princess of Wales. "There were only two people in the room when that happened and one of them told me — I'm not going to say any more than that."
'Tis a pity, really, as "The Queen" is the best-reviewed film of 2006, with a 97 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
8. Winnie Mandela, "Winnie Mandela" (2011)
Both the biography film "Winnie Mandela" and Jennifer Hudson's performance in the title role have received lukewarm reviews. Maybe the cinematic portrait of the South African politician, leader and activist would've turned out better — and Hudson's performance been stronger — if the actual woman had been invited to participate in the production.
"I have absolutely nothing against Jennifer [Hudson], but I have everything against the movie itself," said Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to CNN. "I was not consulted. I am still alive, and I think that it is a total disrespect to come to South Africa, make a movie about my struggle, and call that movie some translation of a romantic life of Winnie Mandela."
Madikizela-Mandela sought to impede the production of the film, which director Darrell Roodt had described as "the ultimate women's movie" and "an amazing love story."
"I think it is an insult," said Madikizela-Mandela. "I don't know what would be romantic in our bitter struggle."
9. Alice Ward, "The Fighter" (2010)
David O. Russell's knockout drama chronicling the relationship between professional boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his combative Irish family, particularly his troubled half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), won supporting acting Oscars for both Bale and Melissa Leo, who plays the boys' tough-as-nails mother, Alice. Despite the film's critical accolades, Alice Ward herself, who died at the age of 79 in April 2011, wasn't having it ... at least in the beginning.
"At first, Alice wasn't crazy about the film," said Ward's brother Gerry Greenhalge in an interview with the Lowell Sun. "She warmed up to it eventually. When you see the whole picture and put it all together, there's a lot of positive in it. She was really all right with it in the end."
10. Ike Turner, "What's Love Got to Do With It" (1993)
This biography film adapted from the 1985 book "I, Tina" by Tina Turner and Kurt Loder chronicles the tumultuous relationship, both professional and personal, of chart-topping singer-musicians Ike (Laurence Fishburne) and Tina Turner (Angela Bassett). Both stars earned Oscar nominations for their searing performances, though the real-life Ike was understandably incensed about a film that portrayed him as an unfaithful, hot-tempered and sometimes extremely violent drug addict ... even though he admitted that he hadn't actually seen it (or read the book it's based on).
"I'm real angry about it," said Ike Turner in an interview with the Los Angeles Times shortly after the film's release. "I didn't go see it and I didn't read [Tina's] book either, but from what I hear they're both full of lies. I guess they needed some drama, they needed to make somebody into the bad guy and this time it was me."
Watch Cumberbatch Discuss His Role as Assange in "The Fifth Estate":