ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

There's nothing like a biopic to test an actor's range. Unsurprisingly, it's supremely difficult to embody an actual person, especially when that person is a) extremely famous, or b) still alive. When it works, however, the results are undeniably amazing.

Sometimes, the Hollywood stars really align, and the performer LOOKS the part as precisely as he ACTS it. This is the kind of rare but welcome occurrence that needs to be documented.

Here are the eight best casting choices that look nearly identical to their real-life subjects.

1. Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking (The Theory of Everything)

Eddie Redmayne has rightly gained a ton of respect and awards attention for his role as theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. Not only does Redmayne fully commit to the part, tracing each nuanced step of physical degeneration caused by ALS, but he also just bears a shocking resemblance to the young scientist. Hawking himself even admitted, "At times, I thought it was me." What more could you ask for (other than an Oscar)?

2. Sienna Miller as Edie Sedgwick (Factory Girl)

This may be a controversial choice, considering the high profile singers like Bob Dylan and Lou Reed who absolutely hated the movie. However, Sienna Miller's charmingly tragic and inspired turn as the quintessential 1960s socialite was, plainly, the only reason to watch the movie. The fact that Miller shares many of the Edie Sedgewick's features and styling certainly doesn't hurt.

3. Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin (Chaplin)

Robert Downey Jr. might have began as a Hollywood favorite, but it took a challenging role as a comedy legend to bring him universal critical acclaim. For the role of Charlie Chaplin, RDJ did tireless research, especially on Chaplin's distinctive posture. He even learned how use his left hand to play the violin and use a tennis racket. All the work ultimately paid off. Chaplin got him his first Oscar nomination and attention for many more "serious" roles.

4. Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn (The Aviator)

I almost opted for Cate Blanchett's performance as Bob Dylan in I'm Not There, but how can you turn down one great Cate playing another? Katharine Hepburn is a particularly difficult role to pull off for a number of reasons. First, she herself was a master actress, winning four Academy Awards. Second, she had a distinctive way of speaking and carrying herself that is extremely difficult to replicate. Third, she's such a legend in Hollywood that everyone was on Blanchett to do her justice. Spoiler alert: that's just what she did, winning her own Oscar in the process.

5. Christine Taylor as Marcia Brady (The Brady Bunch Movie)

Okay, so this one is a little unorthodox considering these are two actresses playing one fictional person, but I just had to include it. Look at these two! Taylor is parodying Maureen McCormick's recognizable role, and she does an incredible job at creating a superior, self-obsessed character that Tumblr is now obsessing over. But, this resemblance is just uncanny and totally made me the movie for me.

6. Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln)

We're used to seeing Daniel Day Lewis do all but turn himself inside out to achieve performative brilliance, but, in this case, with just the addition of a bigger nose, he looks EXACTLY like Abraham Lincoln. Of course, he carried the gravitas and humility to the part that really drove it home, but just look at these two. Twins separated by several decades.

7. Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo (Frida)

Many people look at Frida Kahlo and see nothing past brow, overlooking her rich and complicated life that was full of beauty and amazing talent. These are the exact things that Hayek brought to the part, imbuing Kahlo with a sexiness as well as a fiery humanity that she badly deserved. Best of all, Hayek took matters into her own hands when it came to casting the part, personally securing access to the artists' paintings and assembling a supporting cast. Talk about commitment.

8. Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf (La Vie En Rose)

Arguably the greatest performance of a real person ever to be put on film, Marion Cotillard's star-making turn in La Vie En Rose introduced her to an international audience and won her an Academy Award. Even without these added benefits, however, her turn as the unmistakable French singer Edith Piaf was jaw-dropping. She plays Piaf from her early adulthood right to her dying day, and never once fails to embody her mannerisms, expression, or pint-sized intensity. This movie made many people lifelong Cotillard fans, and I am happily among them.

There is only one way to feel after seeing Cotillard as Piaf, and that is pure amazement.

Were you convinced by the resemblances, or is that just what we expect now from movie magic? Are there any other incredible casting choices that deserve attention?


Who is the most impressively cast actor on the list?


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