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From ‘The Social Network’ To ‘Patch Adams’: 7 Biopics That Were Hated By Their Celebrity Subjects

In biopics, the truth can often be colored by the lens of cinematic storytelling. This sometimes leads to disputes over the line between artistic interpretation and factual representation. These seven cases show us the controversies that can arise when film seeks to mirror life.

Biopics are cinematic windows into the lives of famous figures, and they are mostly meant to offer insight and inspiration about them. However, not all subjects are flattered by their on-screen portrayals. Here are seven biopics that sparked criticism from the very individuals they depicted.

1. Girls Like Us – Joni Mitchell

The planned Joni Mitchell story, ‘Girls Like Us,’ faced direct opposition from its subject. Joni Mitchell was quick to dismiss the film in 2014, citing concerns over inaccuracies and assumptions made about her life. The casting of Taylor Swift particularly drew her ire, as she claimed she had no physical resemblance to her.

2. The Blind Side – Michael Oher

‘The Blind Side’ may have scored Sandra Bullock an Oscar, but Michael Oher, the NFL athlete whose life story the film told, was far from happy. Oher critiqued the film for simplifying his intelligence and expressed frustration over the increased scrutiny in his professional life due to the movie’s portrayal.

3. The Late Shift – David Letterman

David Letterman’s response to ‘The Late Shift’ was with sarcasm. Unimpressed, Letterman openly mocked the film, calling it ‘the biggest waste of film since [his] wedding photos.’ He also didn’t like Michael Higgins’ portrayal of him, which he saw as ‘a circus chimp and a budding psychopath.’

4. All Eyez On Me – Jada Pinkett-Smith

In ‘All Eyez On Me,’ the filmmakers’ dramatization of Jada Pinkett-Smith’s relationship with Tupac Shakur was what disturbed the actress most. Pinkett-Smith voiced her thoughts on Twitter in 2017, calling the portrayal ‘deeply hurtful’ for altering moments in her history with the late rapper.

5. Patch Adams – Dr. Hunter ‘Patch’ Adams

Robin Williams’ portrayal of Dr. Hunter ‘Patch’ Adams in ‘Patch Adams’ was met with strong disapproval from the doctor himself. Dr. Adams criticized the film for neglecting the serious aspects of his work, focusing instead on humor and overlooking his activism and healthcare efforts.

6. The Social Network – Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg pointed out the fictionalization in ‘The Social Network.’ He claimed that the movie falsely represented his motivations for creating Facebook and expressed his displeasure at the film’s deviation from reality — especially the invented narrative about his personal life.

7. The Fifth Estate – Julian Assange

Julian Assange expressed his disapproval of ‘The Fifth Estate,’ which is a film chronicling the WikiLeaks saga. He denounced it as misleading and a distortion of truth, even attempting to convince Benedict Cumberbatch, who portrayed him, to abandon the project. In his letter to the actor, Assange labeled the film as harmful to his image and the events it purported to depict.

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