10 Famous Movie Characters You Didn't Know Were Based On Real People

It turns out The Big Lebowski may be one of the most realistic movies ever made.

Jeff Dowd Big Lebowski

As we should all be well aware of by now, a truly original idea is hard to find in Hollywood. Even setting aside all the sequels, remakes, and re-imaginings, there's still a reliance on screenwriters to borrow story ideas from real life events. Hell, sometimes when they have trouble coming up with an original character, they just pull one out of the real world and call it a day.

And that actually makes quite a bit of sense. Most filmmakers don't live in a bubble, so when they start brainstorming ideas for their next movie, it makes sense that they'd look to the outside world for a little inspiration.

Besides, we all know people in our daily lives who are way more interesting than the typically one-dimensional archetypes that show up in most movies. Chalk it up to that whole "truth is stranger than fiction" idiom.

So not only does basing their characters on real people make the filmmaker's job ten times easier, it also helps the characters feel grounded in reality because... well... they are.

10. James Franco's Character From Spring Breakers Is Based On An Actual Rapper

Tom Cruise American Psycho

If you happened to catch any of the promotion for the crime noir fever dream that is Spring Breakers, you probably found yourself at some point wondering aloud, "Why does James Franco look like a jet ski salesman who just learned what dreadlocks are?" Well, that's because Franco based his portrayal on obscure Florida rapper and human cartoon Dangeruss.

Though, if you were following the less respectable news sites following the release of the movie, you'll know that another rapper by the name of Riff Raff thought he was the inspiration for Franco's shady emcee. Mostly because the character looks and speaks exactly like him.

In fact, if you believe the Texan rapper, director Harmony Korine had approached him about starring in the film before Franco got involved, but the logistics just never worked out.

Enter James Franco, who apparently stepped into Riff Raff's shoes in a very literal way, like he was taking part in a real life body-switching situation. And although Raff was excited about Franco essentially playing a version of him - "That's like if Denzel Washington was playing the part of O.J. Simpson" he even said - he wasn't so thrilled that he wouldn't sue Korine for "sampling his life without permission".


Jacob is a part-time contributor for WhatCulture, specializing in music, movies, and really, really dumb humor.