You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Actors sound off on playing real people

Stars take a little dramatic license in their roles

Casey Affleck

on playing Robert Ford in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”

“Jesse James is someone we’ve known only in a Robin Hood legendary kind of way, and Robert Ford is someone that not many know much about. All they know is that he shot Jesse James in the back, and with this movie we get an opportunity to see a very different idea of who he was. There’s not that much information available about Robert Ford, so (his character here) comes from the (Ron Hansen) novel, letters and out of Andrew Dominik’s mind.”

Cate Blanchett

on playing Queen Elizabeth I in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”

“When you have a couple of hours to tell an incredibly dense period of history, by the process of selection you’re automatically telescoping the events and you’re automatically saying that this event has more significance than the one that has been omitted. So it’s never going to be like reading the letters or the court documents or a biography of Elizabeth. It’s not the same experience, but then it shouldn’t be that. You’re being told a fable and a fable through the eyes of that director. It’s very temporal, too, the telling, and so hopefully it has a contemporary quality. All good stories are able to connect to the current collective unconscious and what it means to be female now as much as what it meant to be female then. I think the great thing about Shekhar Kapur and I working together is that I’m fascinated by history and he’s utterly disinterested in it.”

Richard Gere

on playing Clifford Irving in “The Hoax”

“I don’t think any of us would ever be happy with someone making a film of our lives, no matter how good or how talented the people were, because at some level it’s highly reductive. We reduce this man’s life to two hours, and there is some license in the storytelling. It wasn’t documentary true. I think (Irving) had a sense that it was reductive about him. But, of course, the movie wasn’t just about him. It was about these larger issues: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern bear on the life of Hamlet and Denmark, but ‘Hamlet’ is not a story of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.”

Angelina Jolie

on playing Mariane Pearl in “A Mighty Heart”

“It wasn’t that we were against taking some (dramatic license) if we needed to, but the book is beautiful and the story is what it is, and (the film) does have so many of these aspects: The people who came together in this house were of many different faiths. We didn’t have to create that. They became friends, deep, deep friends who are still very close today. Danny (Pearl) was very much in love with Mariane, and she was very much in love with him, and they both would’ve been great parents together, and he did speak to her tummy probably every day and not just the morning he left. She did write about this.”

Heath Ledger

on playing Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There”

“What Todd Haynes wanted to achieve, in the portrait of Dylan, is to preserve his mystique. Therefore these stories, events and words are not direct quotes. Todd didn’t pretend to assume to know exactly who Bob Dylan is, because at the end of the day it’s very hard to summarize. It’s hard to categorize yourself, let alone someone you have never met and you truly don’t know. Todd respectfully avoided that, (which) is what I truly admire about the film. You walk out of the movie and you don’t feel like you’ve been spoon-fed an opinion of who Dylan is. You do walk out with something, and it’s very hard to put your finger on what it is. It’s like you walk out with fragrances of him, but nothing particular.”

Sam Riley

on playing Ian Curtis in “Control”

“The setting and stories are true to the book ‘Touching From a Distance,’ like the scene in the car when Curtis had his first epileptic fit. But no one knows what happened that last night when he was alone in the house (where he committed suicide). That is the imagination of the writer (Matt Greenhalgh). It follows the book closely, which was written by Ian’s wife, Deborah Curtis. The book doesn’t say much about his affair with Annik Honore. We had a three-hour movie. It has been condensed.”

Charlize Theron

on playing Det. Emily Sanders in “In the Valley of Elah”

“This story was the truth, and it really happened. My character (a police detective) was never part of the real story, but as a story, on a human level, it really connected with me. We are sending these very young kids over (to Iraq), to go and do something that very few of us will go and do, and I have a great respect for that. They are coming back here, and we can’t expect them to fit back into society and be normal, functioning citizens. It’s just not going to happen, and we have to give them the right tools, and we are not. I thought it was heartbreaking, so I really wanted to tell that story.”

More Film

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content