Real Life Figures Who Hated Their Hollywood Depictions

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Real Life Figures Who Hated Their Hollywood Depictions's Profile


Somehow I don’t think any of them had fun at the premiere.

1.

The Social Network — Mark Zuckerberg


Sony Pictures / Via youtube.com, zz/DJ/AAD/STAR MAX/IPx / AP

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been open about his disappointment with Aaron Sorkin’s 2010 retelling of the founding of his website, commenting that the film, “made up a bunch of stuff that I found kind of hurtful.

He was particularly disturbed by the idea that he was motivated to create Facebook to improve his dating life following a breakup. Zuckerberg pointed out that at the time the movie was set, he was already dating his now-wife, Priscilla Chan, and that he was motivated by the desire to create, rather than romantic pursuits. However, he also acknowledged that the changes were most likely due to the fact that the realities of writing code are not exactly film-worthy.

The one aspect of the film Zuckerberg didn’t take issue with? His character’s wardrobe. He commented that, “every single shirt or fleece they had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own.

2.

The Blind Side — Michael Oher


Warner Bros. Pictures / Via youtube.com, Paul Spinelli / AP

The Blind Side was a commercial hit when it was released in 2009, earning $309.2 million on a $29 million budget, but it may have caused financial consequences for its inspiration. The film follows Michael Oher, “a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All-American football player…with the help of a caring woman.

A year after the film’s release, Oher released a memoir, I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond. In it, he criticizes the film’s depiction of him, writing that he felt it, “portrayed me as dumb instead of as a kid who had never had consistent academic instruction.” Oher also points out that contrary to his fictional counterpart learning about football from his adoptive family, he educated himself about football in childhood. In 2015, Oher said that he believed the film’s depiction of him hurt his athletic career.

3.

Patch Adams — Patch Adams


Universal Pictures / Via youtube.com, Mayo Clinic / Via youtube.com

This 1998 biopic stars Robin Williams as the titular doctor, whose unconventional approach to healing includes a patient-first approach and a heavy dose of humor. However, the actual Patch Adams was not amused by the actor’s take on his life and work.

During an interview, Adams commented that following the movie’s release, “there wasn’t a single positive article about our work or me” and that his portrayal as simply a “funny doctor” inadequately captured the wide scope of his humanitarian and medical efforts. The famed film critic Roger Ebert even claimed that the first thing the real Adams said to him was, “I hate that movie.” (So did Ebert.)

Despite these criticisms, Patch released a warm statement about Williams after his death, thanking the late actor for his “wonderful performance of my early life.

4.

Argo — Ken Taylor (and the rest of Canada)


Warner Bros. Pictures / Via youtube.com, Associated Press

It takes a lot to upset the famously congenial Canadians, but this Best Picture winner did the trick. In Argo, Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor hides six members of the American embassy staff in his home after they narrowly avoid being taken hostage at the beginning of the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis. From there, the movie majorly downplays the crucial role the Canadian government played in the rescue mission, in favor of focusing on CIA operative Tony Mendez and his allies in Hollywood.

Ambassador Taylor sought to set the record straight, pointing out that, “Canada was responsible for the six and the CIA was a junior partner.” Eventually, director and star Ben Affleck changed part of the movie’s postscript to better reflect Canada’s role, referring to the operation — or, “Canadian Caper” — as, “an enduring model of international co-operation between governments.”

5.

The Doors — Ray Manzarek


Tri-Star Pictures / Via youtube.com, Chris Pizzello/Invision / AP

Jim Morrison (the lead vocalist of The Doors and the central figure of this 1991 film) died 20 years before it was released, but his surviving bandmates were less than impressed with its depiction of both themselves and their leading man.

Keyboardist and band co-founder Ray Manzarek commented that director Oliver Stone “assassinated Jim Morrison” by portraying him as a “violent, drunken fool.” Though he thought the actors delivered fine performances and the recreations of the band’s concerts were adequate, Manzarek dismayed over Stone’s failure to capture the band’s guiding philosophy. Instead of showing a band based in “idealism and the ’60s quest for freedom and brotherhood,” Stone’s vision relied on “madness and chaos.”

6.

Jobs — Steve Wozniak


Open Road Films / Via youtube.com, Richard Shotwell/Invision / AP

Jobs, directed by Joshua Michael Stern, was the first of two major Steve Jobs biopics produced in the 2010s. It was also Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s least favorite.

Wozniak would go on to consult on 2015’s Steve Jobs, but when he received a similar offer from Jobs, he turned it down after reading the script and deciding it was “crap.” He even went to the trouble of reviewing the movie himself for Gizmodo. In the review, he rejected star Ashton Kutcher’s claim that he was critical of the movie due to his financial stake in its competitor, and pointed out several discrepancies in his and Jobs’s characterization.

7.

Girl, Interrupted — Susanna Kaysen


Columbia Pictures / Via youtube.com, Boston Globe / Getty Images

When she was 18, Susanna Kaysen was admitted to McLean Hospital, a private psychiatric institute in Massachusetts. In 1993, she published a bestselling memoir about her 18-month stay there.

The film adaptation of the same name was released in 1999. In 2003, Kaysen referred to it as, “melodramatic drivel.” However, she did note that the film’s most noteworthy performance, Angelina Jolie’s Oscar-winning turn as sociopath Lisa, was also its most accurate.

8.

Moneyball — Art Howe


Columbia Pictures / Via youtube.com, Ben Margot / AP

In this 2011 sports drama, “no one comes off more poorly…than Art Howe, the former Athletics and Mets manager.” The Art Howe of Moneyball is positioned as a stubborn antagonist to hero Billy Beane’s innovative, statistics-based approach to the game. Naturally, Howe took offense to this portrayal.

Howe believed that neither the film nor the book it was based on properly portrayed his perspective, and that it’s “disappointing” that most people who don’t know him personally will assume he is like his onscreen counterpart. He also said that if he ever sees Beane again, he expects an apology.

9.

Feud: Bette and Joan — Olivia de Havilland


FX / Via youtube.com, Courtesy Everett Collection

On the eve of her 101st birthday, actress Olivia de Havilland gave herself an early present: A lawsuit against FX and Ryan Murphy Productions “for unauthorized use of her name and identity in Feud: Bette and Joan.”

In the suit, de Havilland claimed that in addition to being unauthorized, the characterization of the fictional de Havilland was damaging to her reputation. The actress took particular offense to the show’s depiction of her as a gossip, and the character’s use of profanity to refer to her sister. Ultimately, de Havilland lost her case when both the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene.

10.

Winnie Mandela — Winnie Madikizela-Mandela


Equinoxe Films / Via youtube.com, Mujahid Safodien / Getty Images

Anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela wasn’t impressed when the makers of this 2011 biopic failed to ask her for either input or approval. Speaking to CNN, she said that it was insulting for her life story to be reimagined as, “some translation of a romantic life of Winnie Mandela.”

Star Jennifer Hudson was apparently excited to meet her real life inspiration, but the producers refused to allow such a meeting to take place, fearing it would “distract” her. The producers also declined to allow Madikizela-Mandela access to the script prior to production, saying at Cannes that the screenplay was, “without any influence from any of the main characters.”

11.

The Fifth Estate — Julian Assange


DreamWorks Pictures / Via youtube.com, 60 Minutes / Via youtube.com

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took several steps to discredit the 2013 film based on his life, going so far as to send star Benedict Cumberbatch a letter a week before production began, imploring him to reconsider his decision to work on the film. Assange argued that the movie could, “bury good people doing good work, at exactly the time that the state is coming down on their heads.” WikiLeaks later released the letter, though Cumberbatch had hoped to keep their correspondence private.

Soon after the film’s premiere, WikiLeaks released the script, along with a 4,000 word essay about why it was, “a work of fiction masquerading as fact.” WikiLeaks also pointed out that they were never asked to consult on the script, and summed up their thoughts in a tweet accompanying the leak: “It’s bad.”

12.

The Late Shift — David Letterman


HBO / Via youtube.com, Netflix / Via youtube.com

David Letterman hated HBO’s 1996 made-for-TV movie about his and fellow comedian Jay Leno’s battle for a dream gig: Hosting The Tonight Show following Johnny Carson’s retirement. John Michael Higgins, who played Letterman, spoke in 2009 about the struggles of portraying such a powerful figure in the industry, noting that he was once booked as a guest on Letterman’s show, “only to get bumped without explanation.”

At the time, Letterman didn’t mince words about the movie, calling it “the biggest waste of film since my wedding photos” and comparing Higgins’s performance to that of a “psychotic chimp.

13.

The Crown — The British Royal Family


Netflix / Via youtube.com, Sipa USA via AP / Abaca Press

Nobody knows exactly how much of The Crown the Royals have watched, but apparently, reactions from Buckingham Palace have been…mixed. During a 2021 interview with James Corden, Prince Harry said that he is more comfortable with the show’s fictionalized take on events than he is with the stories written about him and his family in the press. And Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret in the first two seasons) said she heard a rumor that Her Majesty herself is a fan.

However, Queen Elizabeth was less enthusiastic about Season 2, with one courtier noting that she took offense to the show’s depiction of Prince Philip as an insensitive father to Prince Charles. And although star Olivia Colman said she had a conversation with Prince William where he claimed to never watch the show, there were rumors that he was displeased about Season 4 specifically, apparently because he felt the show “exploited” his parents.

In 2019, the Queen’s communications secretary wrote into The Guardian, reiterating that the Royal Family considers the show to be fictional and has never been involved in (or approved of) its production.

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