It takes years of perseverance and dedication to cement one’s legacy in history. Such men are born one in a million yet Hollywood can duplicate all of them. At least in the movies of course. Here are the 15 outstanding performances of actors portraying historical figures:
15. Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock
Undoubtedly the greatest and most influential film-maker of the black and white era of Hollywood, Alfred Hitchcock was a master of suspense and extremely visionary as far as his distinctive style and thrilling narratives were concerned.
Some doubts occurred over the casting of Anthony Hopkins as the acclaimed director for the biopic Hitchcock but the actor made the critics eat their words as he deeply immersed himself in the role and gave a fantastic performance.
Receiving mixed to positive reviews upon its release, the movie revolved around Hitchcock’s struggles while directing the controversial horror movie Psycho and his dwindling relationship with wife Alma Reville.
14. David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr.
As one of the most iconic African-American leaders and social activists in United States of America, Martin Luther King, Jr. never allowed anything stop him from achieving his goal of civil rights for every black citizen in the country.
Starring British actor David Oyelowo as the leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 2014 biopic Selma, the on-screen King is shown battling racial inequality through non-violence.
The performance of Oyelowo was acclaimed due to the empowered usage of his voice like King was famous for during his revered speeches and the movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture but lost to Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).
13. Bruno Ganz as Adolf Hitler
Active Facebook users might be familiar with hundreds of parody videos of Adolf Hitler being severely furious over a specific issue. That particular scene is from the 2004 German war film Downfall starring Bruno Ganz as the Führer of Nazi Germany.
Though Hitler has been depicted in many movies by several actors – most notably by Martin Wuttke in Inglourious Basterds – but its Bruno Ganz’s performance that is considered as the most iconic one.
Based upon several historical books upon the German leader, Downfall showcased the last ten days of Hitler’s regime of Nazi Germany. The movie was met with positive reviews and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
12. Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela
It is no secret that actor Morgan Freeman has often been acknowledged as a look-alike of the former President of South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela. His resemblance coupled with marvelous acting skills were put to use when Freeman portrayed Mandela in the biographical sports drama film Invictus.
Directed by none other than Clint Eastwood, the movie was met with generally positive reviews and based upon John Carlin’s book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation. The role earned Freeman an Academy Award nomination but lost to Jeff Bridges.
11. Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs
Charles Babbage may be considered as “the father of the computer” but there is not a bigger name than Steve Jobs when it comes to the history of technological affiliations with computers. As the founder of Apple Inc., the inventor is credited for producing several small yet powerful devices such as iMac, iPad, iPhone etc.
Two years after his death, a biopic titled Jobs was under development with none other than Ashton Kutcher starring as the title character. Often type-casted as a comedic womanizer, the actor brought the spirit of Jobs back to life but due to the film’s several historical inaccuracies and weak narration, Jobs received immensely negative reviews.
10. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote
Author Truman Capote certainly had an interesting life and a considerable amount of it was beautifully documented in the biographical film Capote starring Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Hoffman successfully reconstructed the aspiring times of the decorated author and received a universal acclaim for the role to the point of earing his first of four Academy Award nominations and winning his only one.
9. André 3000 as Jimi Hendrix
Described as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jimi Hendrix remains as one of the most inspirational and influential electric guitarists even today.
Though the drama film Jimi: All Is by My Side about his life received negative reviews because of the inaccurate and demeaning way the musician was showed, leading actor André 3000 was appreciated for the role due to his likeness and performance.
8. Christopher Lee as Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Muhammad Ali Jinnah stands among the few leaders who have literally changed the map of the world. Known as The Great Leader for providing the Muslims of the Subcontinent a country of their own, citizens of Pakistan owe a great deal to Jinnah.
As the leading actor of the biopic Jinnah, veteran actor Christopher Lee fully understood the responsibility of doing justice with the esteemed politician on-screen and called it his most significant and favorite role.