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11 Real People Who Got Some Serious Sexy Upgrades in the Movie of Their Life

By Jodi Clager | Seriously Random Lists | July 29, 2013 | Comments ()


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Hollywood is alright with padding not only the stories they use for their "based on true events" films, but also the looks of the people involved. After all, Steve Buscemi and Steve Buscemi in drag can't portray all of the average-looking people in the world. Let's look at some of the worst offenders when it comes to sexing up the appeal of real people for the sake of the big screen.

George and Kathy Lutz The Amityville Horror

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Upgraded to Melissa George and Ryan Reynolds

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Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash Walk the Line

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Upgraded to Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon

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Henry Hill Goodfellas

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Upgraded to Ray Liotta

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Tony Mendez Argo

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Upgraded to Ben Affleck

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Ritchie Valens La Bamba

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Upgraded to Lou Diamond Phillips

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Ed and Lorraine Warren The Conjuring

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Upgraded to Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga

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Edith Piaf La Vie En Rose

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Upgraded to Marion Cotillard

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George Jung Blow

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Upgraded to Johnny Depp

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Jeffrey Dahmer Dahmer

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Upgraded to Jeremy Renner

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Julie Powell Julie and Julia

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Upgraded to Amy Adams

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Michael Gordon Peterson, aka Charles Bronson Bronson

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Upgraded to Tom Hardy

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Amindian4

    Actually I met Dahmer, he is better looking than Renner and much taller...

  • LolaB

    Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin, anyone?

  • BlackRabbit

    I don't see how Patrick Wilson in that sweater is an upgrade over anyone.

  • Haystacks

    Not all of these are upgrades. Ritchie Valens was legitimately pretty cute. Also Ed and Lorraine Warren are older more than anything.

  • e jerry powell

    I look at the Warrens in that picture, and it makes me think of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst, for some reason.

  • e jerry powell

    I actually think that Peterson to Hardy is pretty much a push.

    They really shouldn't have taken a picture with Jung standing next to Depp.

    Cotillard shaved her eyebrows for that role?

  • apsutter

    Marion Cotillard looked like hell as Edith Piaf tho.

  • Brooke the Replicant

    Hi Tom Hardy.

  • Sara Habein

    Another contender:
    Carlos, The Jackal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... into Édgar Ramírez (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm118...

  • SottoVoce

    Mark Harmon was an upgrade for Ted Bundy.

  • kirbyjay

    Everything I've ever read about Bundy describes him as handsome.
    So not so

  • SottoVoce

    They do describe him as handsome, but I never thought he was.

  • Green_Eggs_and_Hamster

    I was good friends with one of the people portrayed in the 2001 Movie Bully, and since I went to school with them, I knew several of them off handedly. The one that sticks out the most was Lisa Conelly to the Girl who was dating Mcaulley Caulkin at the time. I wish the people I had hung out with had been as good looking as Bijou Phillips or Brad Renfro. Sadly, that was most assuredly not the case.

    And of course, there was the added problem that several of them were apparently psychopaths.

  • e jerry powell

    What, pretty people can't be psychopaths?

  • HerringGull

    I am not in favour of slavery or anything like that, but I covet Vera Farmiga.

  • SnowMan

    Based on that photo, George Lutz should have been played by Andy Richter, in the beard he had as Gregory in "Talladega Nights."

    (I looked for a pic to add as visual aid, but couldn't find one.)

  • flickfan

    T.E. Lawrence was upgraded only a wee bit to Peter O'Toole in "Lawrence of Arabia." And hard though it may be to believe, you could make the case that Denzel Washington was actually a slight downgrade from the real Malcolm X.

  • foolsage

    Susanna Kaysen (Girl, Interrupted) is another good candidate.

    http://www.vulcannonibird.de/n...

    http://www.wearysloth.com/Gall...

  • Thomas Rakewell

    Jeffrey Dahmer seems to have got a slight downgrade.

  • foolsage

    Agreed.

  • I came here to post that.

  • melancholicmess

    OMG! That was Tom Hardy?!?!

  • Maguita NYC

    The man is that great an actor (that Witherspoon clusterfuck notwithstanding).

    Watch Bronson, Warrior then Lawless.

  • Kate at June

    ...Is Lou Diamond Phillips an upgrade? I'm unconvinced.

  • e jerry powell

    Apparently Melissa Etheridge was an upgrade from Lou Diamond Phillips...

  • Kate at June

    Really downvoter? Because I find the actual person prettier? Pffft

  • jon29

    Salma Hayek as Frida belongs here.

  • e jerry powell

    I could definitely see Frida's appeal. It was very much of her era, though.

  • PaddyDog

    I assume this topic is prompted by the announcement that Diane Lane will play Hillary Clinton?

    And may I add: Henry VIII-Jonathon Rhys Myers

  • Sara_Tonin00

    even though he has creepy dead eyes, yes, JRM is an upgrade to Henry 8.

  • BWeaves

    H VIII was a hot, athletic young man before his injury. JRM is skinny, little rat terrier of a man. JRM looked nothing like H VIII when he was older at all. It was hard to believe that his later wives would turn up their nose at him. The Tudors just didn't work for me as far as daddy Tudor was concerned. I was only there for the tiara porn.

  • e jerry powell

    I dunno. I like bears, so even after the injury, I'd probably hit that.

  • PaddyDog

    Exactly how old are you?

  • BWeaves

    Don't you know you never ask a lady her age? Especially an old lady. Why I remember H VIII as a young man. It's a shame there are no good portraits of him from that time, but there are none of me, either, thank Gotopus.

  • I will take Johnny Cash over Joaquin Phoenix any day of the week.

  • PaddyDog

    Yup. That one was a downgrade.

  • Jerce

    Anyone who hasn't seen La Vie En Rose should rectify that omission ASAP.

  • robbermaiden

    nope, my work plays edith piaf pretty much non-stop. I cannot hear any of her music one more time. Pretty sure that if I am secretly programmed to murder people, I'll snap during one of her songs like Zoolander does during "Relax". No offense to the movie, I'm sure it's great.

  • stardust

    I didn't even know there was a Dahmer movie until I read this list. Not sure if I want to see it or not. The thought makes me feel a little ooky.

  • There was a decent list of B-movies that came out: Dahmer, Gacy, Bundy, Ed Gein (off the top of my head). Renner, iirc, was the only name to come out of them all.

  • ,

    Are the "Blow" photos in the wrong order? They are, aren't they?

  • ERM

    George Jung is on the right in the top photo. Although, yes, Depp is also in the photo. The bottom mug shot photo is Depp as well.

  • AudioSuede

    Bronson made me question my sexuality, which, you know, made me question a lot more things, because he is a monster.

  • Bert_McGurt

    How about our good friend The Dude? (The guy on the right, Jeff Dowd, was the inspiration for the character.)

    John Goodman, on the other hand, bears an amazing resemblance to John Milius (the inspiration for Walter).

  • BWeaves

    I just watched Game Change, and spent the rest of the evening Googling photos of the actors and their real life counterparts.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Reese & Phoenix just look like the pointier versions, not the sexier versions.

    And how could Ryan Reynolds resist the chance to grow out a ridiculous 70s beard and sweep? It's so lush and magnificient, I would've thought it was integral to the character.

  • e jerry powell

    James Brolin's was still better.

  • Sars

    Johnny Cash and June Carter, specially June, are WAY hotter than the people that played them. Reese Whitherspoon is NOT an improvement to anything.

  • BWeaves

    Actually, some of these non-actor people are actually very attractive, and some of the actors look exactly like the people they are portraying.

    Why don't you mention Woodward and Bernstein from All The Presidents Men? Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman were WAY hotter than Woodward and Bernstein.

    http://www.achievement.org/aut...

    http://frontpagemag.com/wp-con...

    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-i...

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ugh, for Hoffman to be hotter than anyone...that's not saying much.

  • BWeaves

    Look at the photos. Look at the photos.

    Actually, Hoffman has a real Neil Gaiman thing going on in the last one, that's kinda hot.

  • Pretty Hate Machine

    Horsefeathers! I refuse to agree that anyone is an upgrade for June and Johnny.

  • THIS.

  • toblerone

    YUP!. A ENDLESS upvotes for you!

  • Joe Grunenwald

    UGH JULIE POWELL.

  • meadowdancer

    I read her first and second memoirs and they SUCKED. The second memoir was just 100 percent pathetic and not written well at all. Who cares about her and her stupidity in having an affair and then going around having random sex with strangers and making out with people. I can see why she has turned into a nobody again.

  • IngridToday

    Her second book is like if you found someone's junior high secret diary, read how desperate they were boys to like, then put the book back were you found it and walked away.

    I loved how Julia Childs called her out. This is what Child's editor said about Childs' response to Powell:

    "Flinging around four-letter words when cooking isn't attractive, to me or Julia. She didn't want to endorse it. What came through on the blog was somebody who was doing it almost for the sake of a stunt. She would never really describe the end results, how delicious it was, and what she learned. Julia didn’t like what she called 'the flimsies.' She didn't suffer fools, if you know what I mean"

    Essentially, zero fucks (sorry Julia) were given the day Childs' found out about Julie Powell.

  • meadowdancer

    I think I love you.

    I remember reading about that later. I read her first memoir and she got kinda vague when she talks about Julia Child talking to an editor and saying she was not impressed with Julie Powell. Instead of Powell thanking her stars that anyone read her horrible ass first memoir she shat all over that persona in the second memoir I think to show how racy and cutting edge she is.

  • LucyKlein

    I take it you read her second book where she talks about how she constantly cheated on her husband, and stalked an ex-lover(what's the male equivalent of mistress? Manstress?) and how she's proud of herself for making out with an African tour guide.

  • e jerry powell

    LOV-AAAH.

    /Carrie Bradshaw

  • Joe Grunenwald

    I honestly haven't read that book, but I read about it. Even if I hadn't, though, I would still find her completely insufferable based on what a whiny narcissist she is in JULIE & JULIA.

  • $27019454

    Double UGH.

  • PDamian

    Ed Warren to Patrick Wilson? That's one hell of an upgrade.

    The original Amityville Horror featured Margot Kidder and James Brolin. Also a big upgrade.

  • e jerry powell

    I still have dirty dirty dirty dreams about Mr. Streisand to this day.

  • ZizoAH

    I think it would be fun if we thought about who would play us and our loved (and not so loved) ones if they ever made a movie about us.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Leonard Whiting, of the Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet. Which, you know, good while I'm young, rather less good when old.

  • llp

    I was just looking at photos of Whiting recently, because of reasons. The upvote is for the reference, as I feel certain you retain the luminous beauty of young Leonard Whiting.

  • melissa82

    People think I'm grown up Winnie Cooper so I'd say Danica McKellar for me, and Sarah Silverman for my sis. It is also kooky how much my dad looks like Gerald McRaney, I always thought that in Major Dad and very much still in Justified. Though usually the people playing us are younger than we are, right? Hmm...ruins everything.

  • BWeaves

    We did this at work once. The results were weird. We all work from home, and nobody knows what we really look like, so yeah. Weird.

    Plus, it reminds me of the quote from the 1970's, "When we were young, we all wanted to look like Elizabeth Taylor. Now we all do."

  • toblerone

    YES! Seconded. Sounds like a perfect weekend post for Mrs. Julien.

  • Maguita NYC

    Quick, submit to Mrs. J!

  • Mrs. Julien

    There was a celebrity lookalike diversion, so I suspect it would be too much cross-pollination.

    http://www.pajiba.com/comment_...

  • toblerone

    Nah... Different. Your look like wouldn't necessarily be the person you want to play you in the film version of your life story.

    Personally I would want Ken Watanabe (or Toshirô Mifune if any actor was possible) or to play me even though we look nothing alike.

  • KC

    I've been told I share a resemblance with Mariah Carey. Which isn't a bad thing looks wise. Though I think my mom and I look more like her cousins than like *her*. I think it also has to do with how I tend wear my hair (normally blondish, or light).

  • Maguita NYC

    I remember that one! Many had delurked specifically for that one. good times!

  • Cherith Quewtstorrie

    i call bullshit...these can not possibly be the most egregious offenders. if anything, most of these (with the notable exceptions of amityville horror and argo are actually really good examples of hollywood "padding" the looks of the original people while still staying true to the essence of the person.

    but that's just my opinion.

  • toblerone

    Wow, this list is a FAIL for so many reasons.

  • stardust

    Wow, this comment is a FAIL for one reason: you bitched into the ether without adding anything to the discussion.

  • toblerone

    "Isn't bitchin' into the ether" (and porn) the stuff the Internet was built on?

    Hollywood was also equated "pretty" with talent and depth. My biggest issue with this post is Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, both are attractive and extremely talented people who were in no way "prettied up" by the casting of Phoenix and Witherspoon. The whole post is just insulting.

  • Zen

    Yes, it is insulting. The point of June and Johnny I also agree with, because they approved of Reese and Joaquin, respectively. It was a choice, not an upgrade.

  • mrsdalgliesh

    Johnny and June was the point at which the list started to bother me, too -- especially in regards to June. Going from "striking" or "magnetic" to conventional vanilla pretty is not necessarily an upgrade.

  • simplysarah

    Share your reasons.

  • IngridToday

    Can you downgrades next?

    Elizabeth Taylor ...... Lindsey Lohan

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Janet Leigh ---> Scarlett Johansson

  • Mrs. Julien

    Elizabeth Taylor... anyone

  • pzc

    Jeremy Renner is not an upgrade!

  • Even Stevens

    First of all: You are wrong.

    Second: Jeffrey Dahmer raped, murdered, and ate his victims. I'm gonna say pretty much anyone would be an upgrade from that.

  • e jerry powell

    Well, not all of them. At least one got away.

  • habshockeygrl

    I don't think the poster is referencing the acts of the person just based on looks and I have to agree Renner is not anywhere near the top of my list as attractive. In fact that was part of what made Dahmer all the more dangerous was his good looks.

  • Pawesl

    That's irrelevant (as much as it pains me to say this). But Jeffrey was better looking than Renner.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    But look at that pic. Renner is not doing the sexy Dahmer, he's just going whole hog into the Dahmer. Which is creepy and skeevy and not sexy. He's the sexy upgrade at the premiere of the movie, but not in the movie.

  • Even Stevens

    ...Sexy Dahmer? If he were trying to do sexy Dahmer, I'd be disturbed. This list doesn't say the sexier version, it says upgrade.

  • Kate at June

    I don't think this "serious sexy upgrades" list is referring to content of character..

  • Sara_Tonin00

    No, the title says "sexy upgrades." And as disturbing as it is, I do have to say that Dahmer was a physically attractive man.

    Blurgh.

  • e jerry powell

    How else would he have gotten all that play, right?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ugh. My roommate is totally into reading about serial killers, and I...I am a delicate flower and so disturbed by this stuff. Dahmer is just about the worst of the worst - I'm not looking forward to the resurgence of interest in him that will accompany this movie.

  • e jerry powell

    Uhhh...

    Doll, you do realize that Dahmer was released in 2002, right? Back before Jeremy Renner was much of a thing outside the TV world?

    It didn't get wide theatrical release. In most countries it was straight-to-video.

  • pinkerton80

    I believe the Jeremy Renner Dahmer movie came out in 2002.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    *phew*

    Now on to buy that serial killer book just reviewed in CBR for my roommate's birthday.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    They probably are on something of a par in terms of basic physical attractiveness, character content aside, but even assuming Renner is massively more attractive, his appearance in the movie is solidly in the creepy serial killer territory of appearance and so wouldn't qualify for sexy upgrade regardless.

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