People who hated their own biopics

Sam Ashurst
·Contributor
The Fifth Estate, The Disaster Artist, The Social Network
The Fifth Estate, The Disaster Artist, The Social Network

It’s a miracle that anyone approves of their own biopics. If you’re successful enough to see your story play out on the big screen, it seems likely that you’re going to be unhappy with at least some of the dramatic licence the filmmakers have to take to make your life seem more interesting.

Here are the people who have most openly criticised how their achievements have been adapted.

The Social Network (2010) – Mark Zuckerberg

After the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, people want The Social Network 2
After the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, people want The Social Network 2

Oh, Mark Zuckerberg. Currently going through a political storm that probably makes the moment he sat down to watch The Social Network feel like a golden age, the Facebook founder had better hope that David Fincher doesn’t decide to make The Social Network 2: Fake News.

Speaking of fake news, Zuckerberg wasn’t a fan of Fincher’s biopic, claiming it wasn’t true to life outside of his wardrobe.

“It’s pretty interesting to see what parts they got right and what parts they got wrong. I think that they got every single T-shirt that they had the Mark Zuckerberg character wear right; I think I own all of those T-shirts. And they got the sandals right and all that,” Zuckerberg told 60 Minutes.

“But … there are hugely basic things that they got wrong, too,” he added. “[They] made it seem like my whole motivation for building Facebook was so I could get girls, right? And they completely left out the fact that my girlfriend, I’ve been dating since before I started Facebook.”

The Disaster Artist (2017) – Tommy Wiseau

When James Franco approached Tommy Wiseau to adapt the story of how he made the worst movie of all time, Wiseau had one stipulation. He wanted to be played by Johnny Depp. “I laughed,” Franco said. “And he said, ‘Why are you laughing?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, dude. He’s a big movie star. He’s in Pirates of the Caribbean.’”

Wiseau didn’t get Depp, and he didn’t get the movie – when Franco asked him for his thoughts, he said, “‘I approve 99.9 percent.’ And we were like, ‘What was the 0.1 percent? He said, ‘I think the lighting, in the beginning, a little off,'” Franco said. “I told Brandon [Trost, The Disaster Artist’s cinematographer]. He was like, Yeah, maybe we should watch The Room, get some lighting pointers!’”

But a 99.9% approval rate is pretty high when you consider how much Wiseau disliked the book that the film’s based on – saying that it was only 40% true. When questioned about it today, Wiseau doesn’t want to talk about it. “I just take my Fifth,” he says.

The Fifth Estate (2013) – Julian Assange

Benedict Cumberbatch plays WikiLeaks founder Julien Assange in ‘The Fifth Estate’.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays WikiLeaks founder Julien Assange in ‘The Fifth Estate’.

After actor Benedict Cumberbatch reached out to Julian Assange to request his support in allowing the actor to spend time with the hacker to help him research his role, he probably didn’t expect to be told to quit the film, which Assange called “toxic,” “deceitful,” and “wretched.”

“I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film,” Assange wrote. “You will be used, as a hired gun, to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it. To present me as someone morally compromised and to place me in a falsified history. To create a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth.”

Imagine how he’d feel if they made a follow-up, based on more recent events.

All Eyez On Me (2017) – Jada Pinkett Smith

Demetrius Shipp Jr and Kat Graham
Demetrius Shipp Jr and Kat Graham

At this point, it’s hard to find anyone who actually likes how they were portrayed in Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez On Me, but Jada Pinkett Smith has been amongst the most outspoken.

Embarking on a twitter rant after seeing the film for the first time, Pinkett Smith seemed determined to set the record straight.

“Pac never read me that poem. I didn’t know that poem existed until it was printed in his book. Pac never said goodbye to me before leaving for (Los Angeles). He had to leave abruptly and it wasn’t to pursue his career.”

She also added that a squabble between Shakur and Pinkett Smith depicted late in the film never happened. “I’ve never been to any of Pac’s shows by his request,” she wrote. “We never had an argument backstage.”

Meanwhile, rapper 50 Cent was even more direct with his criticism.

Straight Outta Compton (2015) – Dee Barnes

Dee Barnes is an unusual entry on this list – in that she wasn’t actually included in a story that contained a significant moment of her own life.

“Dr. Dre straddled me and beat me mercilessly on the floor of the women’s restroom at the Po Na Na Souk nightclub in 1991,” she recounted to Gawker, elaborating on an incident that resulted in Dr. Dre pleading no contest and serving probation. “When I was sitting there in the theater, and the movie’s timeline skipped by my attack without a glance, I was like, ‘Uhhh, what happened?’ Like many of the women that knew and worked with N.W.A, I found myself a casualty of ‘Straight Outta Compton’s’ revisionist history.”

“I didn’t want to see a depiction of me getting beat up,” Barnes said. “But what should have been addressed is that it occurred.”

As it turns out, the event, was included in an earlier version of Jonathan Herman’s Straight Outta Compton screenplay.

In the scene, the fictional Dre, described in the script as ‘eyes glazed, drunk, with an edge of nastiness, contempt’ spots Barnes at the party and approaches her.

“Saw that s**t you did with Cube. Really had you under his spell, huh? Ate up everything he said. Let him diss us. Sell us out.”

“I just let him tell his story,” Barnes’ character replies, “That’s what I do. It’s my job.”

“I thought we were cool, you and me,” Dre says. “But you don’t give a f**k. You just wanna laugh at N.W.A, make us all look like fools.”

The conversation escalates, Barnes throws her drink in Dre’s face before he attacks her ‘flinging her around like a rag-doll, while she screams, cries, begs for him to stop.’

It’s one of several scenes that doesn’t make it into the film. Director F. Gary Gray has said the original script was 150 pages long, with film’s original cut running at three and a half hours.

Patch Adams (1998) – Hunter ‘Patch’ Adams

The jolly doctor at the centre of Robin Williams’ clown drama wasn’t happy when he saw the story of his life play out on the big screen – and was even more disappointed by the reaction to it.
“After the movie, there wasn’t a single positive article about our work or me. There were dumb, stupid, meaningless things … it made my children cry. They actually thought that they didn’t know the person they were reading about,” Adams said.

“I knew the movie would do this. I would become a funny doctor. Imagine how shallow that is relative to who I am. I just got back from taking 17 clowns to Cuba, which was hit by the worst hurricane in their history. The month before that, we took 30 clowns from seven countries, ages 16 to 65, to Russia for the 17th year in a row.”


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