A biographical film or biopic ( // ) is a film that dramatizes the life of a non-fictional or historically-based person or people. Such films show the life of a historical person and the central character's real name is used. They differ from docudrama films and historical drama films in that they attempt to comprehensively tell a single person's life story or at least the most historically important years of their lives.[ original research? ]
Biopic scholars include George F. Custen of the College of Staten Island and Dennis P. Bingham of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. Custen, in Bio/Pics: How Hollywood Constructed Public History (1992), regards the genre as having died with the Hollywood studio era, and in particular, Darryl F. Zanuck.On the other hand, Bingham's 2010 study Whose Lives Are They Anyway? The Biopic as Contemporary Film Genre shows how it perpetuates as a codified genre using many of the same tropes used in the studio era that has followed a similar trajectory as that shown by Rick Altman in his study, Film/Genre. Bingham also addresses the male biopic and the female biopic as distinct genres from each other, the former generally dealing with great accomplishments, the latter generally dealing with female victimization. Ellen Cheshire's Bio-Pics: a life in pictures (2014) examines UK/US films from the 1990s and 2000s. Each chapter reviews key films linked by profession and concludes with further viewing list. Christopher Robé has also written on the gender norms that underlie the biopic in his article, "Taking Hollywood Back" in the 2009 issue of Cinema Journal.
Roger Ebert defended The Hurricane and distortions in biographical films in general, stating "those who seek the truth about a man from the film of his life might as well seek it from his loving grandmother. ... The Hurricane is not a documentary but a parable."
Casting can be controversial for biographical films. Casting is often a balance between similarity in looks and ability to portray the characteristics of the person. Anthony Hopkins felt that he should not have played Richard Nixon in Nixon because of a lack of resemblance between the two.[ citation needed ] The casting of John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror was objected to because of the American Wayne being cast as the Mongol warlord. Egyptian critics criticized the casting of Louis Gossett Jr., an African American actor, as Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in the 1983 TV miniseries Sadat . Also, some objected to the casting of Jennifer Lopez in Selena because she is a New York City native of Puerto Rican descent while Selena was Mexican American.
Because the figures portrayed are actual people, whose actions and characteristics are known to the public (or at least historically documented), biopic roles are considered some of the most demanding of actors and actresses.[ citation needed ] Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Ben Kingsley, Johnny Depp, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., Brad Pitt, Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, and Eddie Redmayne all gained new-found respect as dramatic actors after starring in biopics:[ citation needed ] Beatty and Dunaway as Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi (1982), Depp as Ed Wood in Ed Wood (1994), Carrey as Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon (1999), Downey as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin (1992), Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray (2004), Thompson and Hanks as P. L. Travers and Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks (2013), and Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything (2014).
Some biopics purposely stretch the truth. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was based on game show host Chuck Barris' widely debunked yet popular memoir of the same name, in which he claimed to be a CIA agent. [ citation needed ] The Errol Flynn film They Died with Their Boots On tells the story of Custer but is highly romanticized. The Oliver Stone film The Doors , mainly about Jim Morrison, was highly praised for the similarities between Jim Morrison and actor Val Kilmer, look-wise and singing-wise, but fans and band members did not like the way Val Kilmer portrayed Jim Morrison, and a few of the scenes were even completely made up.Kafka incorporated both the life of author Franz Kafka and the surreal aspects of his fiction.
In rare cases, sometimes called auto biopics,the subject of the film plays themself. Examples include Jackie Robinson in The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), Muhammad Ali in The Greatest (1977), Audie Murphy in To Hell and Back (1955), Patty Duke in Call Me Anna (1990), Bob Mathias in The Bob Mathias Story (1954), Arlo Guthrie in Alice's Restaurant (1969), Fantasia in Life Is Not a Fairytale (2006), and Howard Stern in Private Parts (1997).
In 2018, the musical biopic Bohemian Rhapsody , based on the life of Queen singer Freddie Mercury, became the highest-grossing biopic in history at the time.In 2023, it was surpassed by Oppenheimer, based on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the atomic bomb in World War II.
The Doors were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1965, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. They were among the most influential and controversial rock acts of the 1960s, primarily due to Morrison's lyrics and voice, along with his erratic stage persona and legal issues. The group is widely regarded as an important figure of the era's counterculture.
Raymond Daniel Manzarek Jr. was an American keyboardist. He is best known as a member of the rock band the Doors, co-founding the group in 1965 with fellow UCLA Film School student Jim Morrison. Manzarek is credited for his innovative playing and abilities on organ-style keyboard instruments.
The Doors is a 1991 American biographical film film directed by Oliver Stone and written by Stone and Randall Jahnson. It is based on the history of American rock band the Doors and their influence on music and counterculture. The film stars Val Kilmer as singer Jim Morrison, Meg Ryan as Morrison's girlfriend Pamela Courson, Kyle MacLachlan as keyboardist Ray Manzarek, Frank Whaley as lead guitarist Robby Krieger, Kevin Dillon as drummer John Densmore, Billy Idol as Cat and Kathleen Quinlan as journalist Patricia Kennealy.
John David Logan is an American playwright and filmmaker. He is known for his work as a screenwriter for such films as Ridley Scott's Gladiator (2000), Martin Scorsese's The Aviator (2004) and Hugo (2011), Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and Sam Mendes's James Bond films Skyfall (2012), and Spectre (2015). He has been nominated three times for Academy Awards, and has won a Tony Award and a Golden Globe Award.
"Love Me Two Times" is a song by the American rock band the Doors. First appearing on their second studio album Strange Days, it was later edited to a 2:37 length and released as the second single from that album. The single reached number 25 on the charts in the United States.
Bryan Jay Singer is an American filmmaker. He is the founder of Bad Hat Harry Productions and has produced almost all of the films he has directed.
Joseph Mazzello is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as Tim Murphy in Jurassic Park, Roarke Hartman in The River Wild, Eugene Sledge in the HBO miniseries The Pacific, Dustin Moskovitz in The Social Network, and Queen bass player John Deacon in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
The Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor is an award presented by the Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association. It is given in honor of an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance in a leading role.
Rami Said Malek is an American actor. He is known for portraying computer hacker Elliot Alderson in the USA Network television series Mr. Robot (2015–2019), for which he received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, and as Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury in the biographical film Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), for which he won numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, becoming the first actor of Egyptian heritage to win in that category. Time magazine named Malek one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2019.
"When the Music's Over" is an epic song by the American rock band the Doors, which appears on their second album Strange Days, released in 1967. It is among the band's longer pieces, lasting 11 minutes.
Anthony McCarten is a New Zealand writer and filmmaker. He is best known for writing big-budget biopics The Theory of Everything (2014), Darkest Hour (2017), Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), The Two Popes (2019), and Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody (2022). McCarten has been nominated for four Academy Awards, including twice for Best Adapted Screenplay, for The Theory of Everything and The Two Popes.
Lucy Boynton is a British and American actress. Raised in London, she made her professional debut as the young Beatrix Potter in Miss Potter (2006). She starred in television productions Ballet Shoes (2007), Sense and Sensibility (2008) and Mo (2010), making guest appearances on Lewis, Borgia, Endeavour, and Law & Order: UK. Boynton portrayed writer Angelica Garnett on Life in Squares, which aired on BBC. She appeared as an isolated popular girl in The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015) and starred as a bold aspiring model in Sing Street (2016), which was met with critical acclaim. She appeared in horror films I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016) and Don't Knock Twice (2016), receiving praise for her performance in the latter.
Gwilym Lee is a British actor. He is best known for his roles in Jamestown, Midsomer Murders, Top End Wedding, The Great, and for playing guitarist Brian May in the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
Straight Outta Compton is a 2015 American epic biographical drama film directed by F. Gary Gray, depicting the rise and fall of the hip hop group N.W.A and its members Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, and DJ Yella. Members of N.W.A were involved in the production of the film, including Ice Cube and Dr. Dre as producers, as was Eazy-E's widow, Tomica Woods-Wright. MC Ren and DJ Yella served as creative consultants. Ice Cube is played by his real-life son, O'Shea Jackson Jr., who made his film debut. Corey Hawkins portrays Dr. Dre, Jason Mitchell is Eazy-E, Neil Brown Jr. is DJ Yella, and Aldis Hodge is MC Ren. Paul Giamatti stars as N.W.A's manager Jerry Heller.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a 2018 biographical musical drama film that focuses on the life of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the British rock band Queen, from the formation of the band in 1970 to their 1985 Live Aid performance at the original Wembley Stadium. It was directed by Bryan Singer from a screenplay by Anthony McCarten, and produced by Graham King and Queen manager Jim Beach. It stars Rami Malek as Mercury, with Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, and Mike Myers in supporting roles. Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor also served as consultants. A British-American venture, it was produced by Regency Enterprises, GK Films and Queen Films, and was distributed by 20th Century Fox.
Nobody's Fool is a 2018 American romantic comedy film written and directed by Tyler Perry. It stars Tiffany Haddish, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, Mehcad Brooks, Amber Riley and Whoopi Goldberg, and follows a recently paroled woman who tries to help her sister with a man who may be catfishing her. The film marks Tyler Perry's first R-rated comedy, as well as his first film not to be distributed by Lionsgate.
Oppenheimer is a 2023 epic biographical thriller film written, directed and co-produced by Christopher Nolan. It stars Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American theoretical physicist credited with being the "father of the atomic bomb" for his role in the Manhattan Project—the World War II undertaking that developed the first nuclear weapons. Based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, the film chronicles the career of Oppenheimer, with the story predominantly focusing on his studies, his direction of the Manhattan Project during World War II, and his eventual fall from grace due to his 1954 security hearing. The film also stars Emily Blunt as Oppenheimer's wife "Kitty", Matt Damon as head of the Manhattan Project Leslie Groves, Robert Downey Jr. as United States Atomic Energy Commission member Lewis Strauss, and Florence Pugh as Oppenheimer's communist lover Jean Tatlock. The ensemble supporting cast includes Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, and Kenneth Branagh.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is a 2022 American biographical musical parody film directed by Eric Appel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Al Yankovic. The film is a satire of biopics and is loosely based on Yankovic's life and career as an accordionist and parody songwriter. It stars Daniel Radcliffe as Yankovic, along with Evan Rachel Wood, Rainn Wilson, Toby Huss and Julianne Nicholson in supporting roles.
Modì is an upcoming biographical drama film based on the life of Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. It is directed by Johnny Depp, from a screenplay by Jerzy and Mary Kromolowski, which is based on the play Modigliani by Dennis McIntyre. Produced by Depp's IN.2 Film, Salome Productions, Barry Navidi Productions, and Proton Cinema, it is a co-production between the United Kingdom, Italy, and Hungary. It stars Riccardo Scamarcio in the leading role, with Al Pacino, Luisa Ranieri, Antonia Desplat, Stephen Graham, Bruno Gouery, Ryan McParland, Benjamin Lavernhe, and Sally Phillips playing supporting roles. The artist's life story, which was previously adapted for Modigliani (2004), is Depp's second directorial effort, following the 1997 film The Brave.