Cast the Next Great Hollywood Biopic!

It’s too late to cast the Steve Jobs and Linda Lovelace biopics: not one but two films about them are already underway. The Hollywood biography blockbuster will continue, however, to remain a staple (from Lincoln to Marilyn Monroe to Mark Zuckerberg), so producers will always be searching for new and fascinating subjects for this genre.

Who deserves the next big-budget bio? Irv has two (excellent, I must say) ideas:


Like Irv’s casting? Can you think of other famous (or infamous) folks who rate immortality on the silver screen? Put on your producer’s cap and start pitching!

  • Susan

    I would like to see Steve McQueen’s biography up on the the screen as a biopic. He was such a raw and talented performer. James Franco could bring him to life very believably. Steve lived at such an important Hollywood period and he had an incredible range of acting chops. James is as multifaceted and intelligent an actor and person. This could be very interesting.

    • Irv

      I can definitely see Franco as McQueen/ How about British acttress Rebecca Hall as Ali McGraw?

  • Wayne P.

    Good picks, Irv…My two picks, if not already done, would be Frank Zappa, whom I know a little bit about and Stanley Kubrick, whom I know next to nothing about as to his personal life story.  FZ’s music was as interesting as his views so a film on him would be a compelling watch.  Regarding SK…his filmography is just so varied and excellent that its no stretch at all to assume his biography would be too, right? (oh well, maybe not..but this is “druthers-ville” were now in..and its not my first trip either but its kinda/sorta like a ‘good’ Twilight Zone to MU fanfare faithful ;).

    To play Frank, an easy choice would be Ben Stiller and for my fave director of all time…the role should most definitely go to Woody Allen, which would save the production a lot of bucks since he could also Direct the biopic!

    • Irv

      I like stiller as FZ. woody as Kubrick may take soem getting used to,. I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman could pull it off.

  • Vinny Castellano

    I’d love to see a biopic about Jimmy Stewart.  In a career spanning over forty years, Jimmy Stewart represented the model of a humble, honest, moral man.  First, in the 1930s, he rose to fame as the simple, somewhat naive, hero in the Frank Capra movies ( You Can’t Take It With You and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington).  After serving in WW II, flying numerous missions where his life was always in danger, he returned with Capra’s tribute to the common man, It’s A Wonderful Life, now a Christmas favorite.  He went on to play what critics praise as more complex characters in Anthony Mann westerns and Alfred Hitchcock thrillers.  He later starred in one of John Ford’s final movies, The Man Who Shot Liberty valance.  Ford’s statement on myth versus fact and the question of who the real heroes really are.    
    He continued to live his life as a simple, moral man, showing us that he was just like many of the roles he played.   … a great American and a decent man.  I’m not sure which actor could do justice to the part, maybe Tom Hanks (himself a decent down-to-earth actor).

    • Irv

      Tom Hanks would be great as Jimmy as he has been compared to him many times over the years.

  • Bjodrie

    Jim Garrison(This time lets get the facts right,unlike in JFK)

  • Bernard S.

    Sorry Irv, If somebody make a biopic of James Coburn, I don’t think I will pay $ 8 to see it. No
    offense to anybody, including all the fans of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and other iconic
    actors…. I think it is time  a biopics should be make about Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn,
    Marlene Dietrich , James Stewart and  Cary Grant .  Steve McQueen ?  Joel Edgerton ?
    Jonah Hill ? Yes ! but AFTER Garbo,Dietrich,Kate, Stewart and Grant.

    • Irv

      James Coburn is a favorite of mine and that’s why I picked him. He did live a pretty amazing life as I mentioned. There have been a few films about Marilyn and Dean. and I agree the others would made fascinating films if done right. Sometimes the person you least suspect will surprise you. for example, Brad Garrett of “Everyone Loves Raymond” actually made a good Jackie Gleason. and Michelle williams was quite good as Marilyn.   

  • Frankiedc

    The turbulent love story of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh would make a wonderful film.Rachel Weitz has the necessary beauty and acting chops to be Vivien while Colin Firth could be Sir Laurence. Of course, such casting would limit the time period, most likely towards the end of their marriage.

    The closeted life of Rock Hudson would be perfect at this time. Hugh Jackman might surprise us all as the tormented movie star.

    I am looking forward to seeing Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his fickle lover. Yet I am dreading seeing Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor. Rachel Weitz would have been better casting.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      Nice pitches! I do think Branagh’s Olivier (from My Week with Marilyn) is going to be hard to top, as spot on as he was.

      I have high hopes for the Liberace pic, too; like the Jackman casting as Rock, well done!

  • Chrijeff50

    I would love to see a biopic of my favorite of all US Presidents, Teddy Roosevelt!  Think about it.  A frail little boy from a wealthy NY family not only builds himself up, but becomes famous as a Wild West cattleman (he once captured a gang of rustlers singlehanded), NYC Police Commissioner, Secretary of the Navy, Colonel of US Volunteers, Governor of NY State, two-term President and third-party candidate.  He fathered six kids and made the White House livelier than it had ever been.  He created the modern national-parks system, busted trusts, and generally was almost as reviled as his cousin Franklin by “the 1%” of that day.  Who’d play him?  I’m not up enough on current actors to know, though Tom Berenger did a great job in “Rough Riders.”

    • GeorgeDAllen

      TR’s life is absolutely full of great stories that could make great movies. Not too long ago I picked up his “Through the Brazilian Wilderness,” which could make for a terrific picture. I have to admit I’ve not yet seen the movie I had a friend recommend to me a long while back, “The Wind and the Lion,” where Brian Keith plays Roosevelt. I do enjoy a good John Milius movie, so I have to catch up with that one.

      • Chrijeff50

        You’ll like that one (I have it in my collection), but I think more for Sean Connery (who makes a wonderful Raisuli) than for Teddy.  The best Teddy treatment I’ve seen thus far is Tom Berenger’s in “Rough Riders.”

    • Vinny Castellano

      Great choice!  Teddy Roosevelt is a great choice for a biopic for all the reasons you mentioned.  Also, Tom Berenger would do a great job as TR.

  • Newellm

    I hate most bipics. They’re even worse if you are old enough to remember the real people. Marilyn Monroe? Haven’t we heard enough about her?  Nobody is as beautiful as the real Marilyn. Lindsay Lohan as Taylor? Are you kidding me? In the words of Rex Reed in Myra Breckenridge, “Where are my tits”. Enough already about Liberace. We’ve already had two bad TV movies. Who needs another. However, I DO want to see the ones about Hitchcock.

    • Wayne P.

      Me too, but wonder if theyd tell us how bad a boy ole Hitch was…if you dont believe the stories, just ask Tippy Hedren, if shes still alive, or her daughter Melanie Griffith.  Same things he did to Vera Miles as have heard also…sad but probably true, unfortunately, and it makes any biopic all the more compelling too!

      • Wlwhill

        Tippi Hedron is very much alive.  She was on the recent TCM Cruise looking fabulous at 80&.  She’s produced a move about the filming of THE BIRDS called ‘”THE GIRL” which was Hitch called her when he was pissed at her.  It will be on HBO in October.
        Also heard about a British film about the making of PYSCHO with Anthony Hopkins as Hitch and Helen Mirren as Alma Reville.  If it exists it would be a MUST SEE.  Anyone know anything about it.

        Wayne, The Movie Maven

  • LaRue Watts

    Montgomery Clift would be a fascinating bio. But I’m not sure who would be perfect casting….Maybe it’s time for an “unknown!”

    • CarterCE

      Very interesting choice, LaRue. For a close physical resemblance to Montgomery Clift, how about Owen Wilson? (Although Owen would be a dead ringer for a bio-pic of Dennis Hopper)

      • Gord Jackson

        I too was thinking of Montgomery Clift with the aforementioned James Franco in the lead.

  • CarterCE

    Kevin Spacey as Jack Benny. I can’t think of a finer actor to portray this Hollywood legend. This is the project I would have loved to see Spacey take charge of instead of the bio-pic he did on Bobby Darin.

    Would Ben Affleck be believable as Rock Hudson?  How about Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”) as Hattie MacDaniels?

    Comedian Eddie Griffin has done take-offs on Sammie Davis Jr. for years.  He could have really pulled off an excellent protrayal in a serious dramic role.

    Now, who do we pick to portray Charlton Heston, Orson Wells, Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart (Steve Buscemi?), or John Wayne?

  • Dukefan9

    Hi Irv.  I have two picks,  both child actors who had to have had fascinating lives that would , I think, be interesting to the public.  Robert Blake and Mickey Rooney.  Both have been around movies forever and both are under-rated actors with a lot of talent.  I personally like them both.  The more fascinating and controvertial would be Blake.  There’s a guy with a lot of history.. He was, and still is, a pistol—maybe even a loose canon.  I genuinely like him and his life has been anything but dull.
         Now Mickey Rooney is probably one of the most under-rated actors of our time.  The man can do everything–he can sing, dance, play comedy, play deep drama,  play a host of instruments and is as complete an actor as anyone. And he’s been married umpty-ump times.  His longevity alone makes for one interesting bio-pic.
          Both give producers a chance to follow the advancement of the movie industry while depicting a couple of complicated lives. Both would be a plum role for an actor to play—especially Bobby Blake’s. Talk about a scene stealing role.

  • Ric

    Yes I agree with someone although not sure who but for Montgomery Clift perhaps Hugh Jackman?  As for Lindsey as Elizabeth Taylor big mistake although she has the early Liz drug thing down pat..Put her in Jail and keep her there..enough about Lindsey already.  A Bio about Bette Davis…of course the only real person that could play her would be Meryl Streep although not the early years…perhaps a new comer… 

  • Gary Vidmar

    Adam Sandler as Jerry Lewis. 

  • Randallhorn000

    John Ford bio-pic? Nah, probably no one would care, but he was one of America’s greatest directors.
    You’d need to cast someone who could play a crumudgeon.  Maybe Albert Finney, Michael Gabon.
    Ford’s life story is fascinating, especially his WWII career, but today’s audiences would shrug, probably.
    I only mention Ford, because of the upcoming Hitchcock pic, as I tried to think of other directors who may be well-known to the public. 
    (Thinking how they could tell Ford’s story, I think of Peter Bogdanovich’s articles on visiting Ford in Monument Valley during the filming of Cheyenne Autumn. I’D see a movie about Ford directing a movie, if we could all be taken out to Monument Valley, Utah once again!)

    • Vinny Castellano

      I’d watch a biopic of John Ford.  I think he made some of the best movies on American history.  He was a populist who had a great nostalgia for America’s past.  He portrayed the struggles on the common man and family better than any other director.  “The Grapes of Wrath”, I believe, is his best movie. And, of course, he elevated the western to the level of art form.  I’ve heard he was a complex person – kind-hearted and tough, friendly yet elusive,
      first a Roosevelt liberal, later a political conservative.  It would be an interesting movie about probably the greatest American director.
      (TCM ran “Directed by John Ford” by Peter Bogdanovich (updated in 2006).  It was pretty good – more of a documentary – with commentary by John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, as well as Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, and others.)  
      P.S. Albert Finney is a good choice to play John Ford.

      • Wayne P.

        Me too…would love to see a good Ford biopic filmed.  Of course, would love some of the back stories of what went down on those yachting/drinking escapades with the Duke and Ward Bond.  Especially of how he happened to be ‘on location’ with a film crew right around the time of Pearl Harbor being attacked and have heard its because Ford actually thought they were gonna hit us!  He also supposedly gave Wayne grief about not signing up to fight in WW2.  Well, Dukes side of the story is to point to Ford, Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart as they all got officers commissions but Duke would have to go in the Army as an enlisted recruit and was fearful that it would distract the front line soldiers from fighting alongside one of their movie idols…but am not sure this tale is even true; it could be and he was more valuable (like Bob Hope) raising morale in the movies and doing USO shows (if he even did).  Fiction is never quite as interesting as truth, though, is it?  Truth that becomes legend…that is, ;)

  • Dog888k

    A problem of making a biopic of any number of stars is making a coherent script. A running theme of star bios is that for 2 hours you get the star getting chemical problems, spouse and lover problems, and the star dies at the end. And in between the star goes from this show to that show and the following show, unless the star has a Big life crisis, like opera star Marjorie Lawrence, who was stricken with polio onstage  A movie about Harry Hawkes, the actor who was emoting on stage at Ford’s theatre when Booth shot Lincoln and then jumped down on Hawkes onstage might be interesting if anyone could find any info about Hawkes (he lived till 1916.) Back onto topic: is there anyone who could play Betty Hutton? 

  • Subabe

    We loved the stars & directors named here.  BUT where is a story compelling enough to engage an audience, something as amazing as Geoffrey Rush in the biopic as Peter Sellers? YES Branagh was brilliant chanelling Olivier, but the events surrounding that film’s story were already too familiar, and the film Olivier hoped would restore him to greatness was boring and insipid. I’d buy a ticket to see Red River back on the big screen; wouldn’t buy a ticket for a Montgomery Clift biopic. We might find an actor to play Clift. We’d never find a Bogey, Ingrid Bergman or Cary Grant. Who *cares* who could play Betty Hutton? Nobody would pay to see it.

  • Gord Jackson

    Trying to cast people in biopics (or fact-based stories) can be a bit of a mugs game.  We all do it, it’s lots of fun, but it can’t be easy.  Sometimes we wind up scratching our heads, as with James Brolin and Jill Clayburgh as Clark Gable and Carol Lombard.  That it didn’t turn out very well is understatement 101.  However, there are also times that, while the casting may seem strange, the performance delivered can be amazing.  For example, I was blown away at how scarily real Judy Davis came across as Judy Garland in the tv movie “Me and My Shadows” etc., and equally the brilliance of Tom Selleck (never a personal favourite to be sure) as Dwight Eisenhower.  Ditto the very fine actor Rip Torn as Richard Nixon.

    Interestingly also, all the Davis/Selleck/Torn turns were for television movies, which is probably where most biopics would be headed, possibly for a specialty channel like HBO.  I just dont see a film about James Stewart, Montgomery Clift, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy or any of the other previously listed having much (if any) boxoffice appeal.  John Ford and John Wayne possibly, but that’s about it.  

    Finally (and again as a serious biopic) I would personally love to see the Cry-Guy Johnnie Ray’s story put together.  He’s another interesting subject, mostly a forgotten man when discussing the early beginnings of rock and roll.  But Ray, (and James Dean because of both his persona and untimely death) helped to lay the groundwork for the ensuing popularity of Elvis Presley, not that The King would not probably have been popular anyway.  But Dean’s enigmatic rebelliousness and Ray’s over-the-top stage contortions touched teen nerves.  When both vanished in the mid-fifties (Dean through death and Ray through ‘morals issues’) a vacuum was created, one into which Elvis was most suitably placed to fill.  

    Ray came along in 1951 at a time when Frank Sinatra’s career was tanking and the bobby-soxers were looking elsewhere.  Out comes the gutteral, smash hit “Cry” on the ‘A’ side with Ray’s own composition “The Little White Cloud That Cried” on the ‘B’ side of the release.  ‘A’ charted at #1 and ‘B’ at #2.  But Ray’s story is about more than hit records.  It concerns allegations of entrapments by Detroit cops, bisexuality, a torrid love affair with gossip columnist and “What’s My Line?” panelist Dorothy Kilgallen, excessive boozing, deafness from an early age and that stage act every bit as controversial as Presley’s was to become.  Yes, Ray is a personal favourite, but more than that if done properly by a good director and Ray impersonator working from a credible script, I think a Ray biopic could make for one heck of an interesting film.  And just as with the Judy Davis/Garland vehicle, I think all involved would be wise to retain Ray’s own voice in the vocal selections used in the film.         

    • CedC

      I’m in for that movie. Sounds really entertaining.

      • Gord Jackson

        Thank you CedC.  Now all we need to do is get the scripting, acting choices, director and cinematographer right as well as ensuring the successful acquisition of all performance rights.  Piece of cake, lol.

         

  • Randeroo

    A Boris Karloff biopick with Jeremy Irons in the title role — I’d enjoy that, I think.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I have been pining for Irons to play Karloff for ages. I guess now he’d have to be doing Boris near the end of his career (although I guess some Benjamin Button magic could de-age him effectively). If a theatrical feature isn’t in the cards, perhaps a TV-movie with Ted Danson as Karloff the Uncanny. Look at his rectangular head and those somewhat sunken eyes under that prominent brow and tell me he wouldn’t work pretty well.

      • Stldjen

         He was a great actor, Funny, I was watching a Robinson/Cagney film 2 weeks ago, Smart Money, and Karloff has a bit speaking part in the beginning but he’s not listed in the credits.

        • Wayne P.

          Yes, he was great…on either the Mummy or Frankenstein special features included with the disc sets, his wife commented that BK met Lon Chaney Sr. early in his Hollywood career and he told him to do something that no one else is doing and do it very well and you could make a name for yourself; he sure did!

  • Stldjen

    Perhaps Isabella Rossellini is not too old to play her famous mother, Ingrid Bergman. She looks and talks a lot like her. She probably wouldn’t want to, though.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      Sort of like when Geraldine Chaplin played her own grandmother in “Chaplin.”

  • kc88

    Any biopic on early cinema would be exciting for me… George Melies, D.W Griffith, Mabel Normand, etc. there was so much excitement and adventures plus crazy times- anything was possible

    • GeorgeDAllen

      I assume you’ve seen “Hugo.” (Not strictly a biopic, but…well, I wouldn’t want to give it away)

  • Caribbmichael

    Have we had enough of poor Lucy & Desi bios? If not a great one would be Debra Messing & Esau Morales as the famous duo.

  • BILLYBOY53

    Frank Sinatra should be depicted in a biopic.  And the only young actor to play him is Hollywood’s latest extremely talented bad boy:  SHIA LE BOEUF

    • GeorgeDAllen

      Wow, I can’t really say I see Shia LeBeouf playing ol Blue Eyes — but you’re probably going to see your Sinatra biopic wish come true, since they’ve “announced” work starting on just that picture w/Martin Scorsese at the helm. Which probably means you’ll see Leonardo DiCaprio crooning “Come Fly With Me”…

      BTW, LaBeouf also did just make a point of saying he was getting out of big budget movies, preferring to spend his time with more risky/arty fare like Lars von Trier’s upcoming “Nymphomaniac.”

  • Dog888k

    A topic that might not make a big screen movie but could be a cable TV flick would be about  John Bloom, who made himself into Joe Bob Briggs, and supposedly went to pieces when John could not free himself from his Joe Bob personna

    • ole foggy movie fan

       I like your idea about Joe bob Briggs. Ever read some of his reviews?  he had great openings with stories about his friends and relatives in his crazy hometown. What more do you know? Is there enough biography info out there?

  • Allan

    “The life of Hedy Lamarr,” is far more interesting and enchannting  than most of her movies. . .the greatest exotic screen beauty ever along with  an inventor’s brain . . .the first to appear nude in :Extase,”  six hustands, and marriages so tumultuous that the chapters of  “Days of Our Lives,” would look tame. . . one obstacle to filming her life. . .what actress today could possibly play  Miss Lamarr. . .as one old book was entitled. . .”They Had Faces Then!”   and now?

  • Dog888k

    A movie about NYC mobster Vinnie “the Chin” who managed to convince the Big Apple legal world for aabout 25 years that he was completely crazy and therefore unarrestable (wearing a lampshade on 42nd Street et al). till one day a guy filmed him walking around totally lucid–and he was thereupon sent to Sing Sing.    

  • bella

    never hear anything about 3 time oscar winner (tied with jack nickolson) walter brennan.  this actor literally carries every movie he’s in. he just stands out.  if it weren’t for him, john wayne’s movie rio bravo would be boring, just an example.  would a good actor!

  • Shane King

    Robert Kazinsy – Steve McQueen; Jason Sudeikis – Henry Fonda; Rebecca Hall – Jane Fonda; Richard Madden – Cary Grant;; Olivia Wilde – Hedy Lamarr; Joe Manganiello – Burt Lancaster; Stellan Skarsgard – John Wayne; Emilia Clarke – Lana Turner