#Movies & TV

These 16 Movies are Based on Surprising True Stories

by Jennifer Lafferty

These 16 Movies are Based on Surprising True Stories

When a movie’s based on a true story it’s an added bonus that makes the project more compelling. A surprising number of these films are taken from bizarre or offbeat tales that are actually true.


Big Eyes



The 2014 biopic Big Eyes stars Amy Adams as Margaret Keane, whose scheming husband took credit for her iconic artwork. There are several bizarre aspects to the story, including the courtroom paint-off that determined Margaret was the real artist.


Cheaper by the Dozen



It’s hard to believe anyone would have 12 children on purpose, but according to the 1950 dramedy Cheaper by the Dozen, efficiency-expert Frank Gilbreth and his psychologist wife Lillian did. Steve Martin starred in the 2003 remake.


Moulin Rouge!



The 2001 musical Moulin Rouge! relied heavily on fantasy but was inspired by a real 19th century French nightclub where artist Toulouse-Lautrec became enamored with beautiflul showgirls. The 1952 film offers another fictionlized account.


Julie & Julia



The parallel biopic Julie & Julia, stars Meryl Streep as legendary chef Julia Child, and Amy Adams as Julie Powell, who became famous by blogging about her year-long challenge to cook her way through Child’s cookbook.


Florence Foster Jenkins



Another of Meryl Streep’s movies based on an offbeat true story is the upcoming dramedy Florence Foster Jenkins. Ths time Streep portrays the title character, an eccentric heiress who becomes an opera star even though she can’t sing.


Cool Runnings



A bobsled team from Jamaica might seem improbable, but the inspiring film Cool Runnings starring John Candy and Leon, tells the true story of a sprinter disqualified from the Olympics, who enters the 1988 games with the first Jamaican bobsled team.


Eddie the Eagle



The 1988 winter Olympics also featured the quirky Edward “Eddie” Edwards, depicted by Taron Egerton in the 2016 film, who dared to compete in the dangerous ski jumping competition, despite being a virtual novice.


It Could Happen to You



The 1994 romantic dramedy It Could Happen to You follows a NYC cop who splits a lottery ticket with a waitress in lieu of a tip and wins 4 million. In reality, the cop didn’t leave his wife for the waitress.


Patch Adams



In this film inspired by true events, Robin Williams’ character, Hunter Patch Adams, has the purest motives for becoming a physician but is criticized for his irreverence. Adams stuns everyone by using humor and unconventional methods to treat patients.


American Hustle



This movie about a con-man (Christian Bale) and his sexy partner (Amy Adams), who are forced to participate in an FBI sting operation, is partially based on fact. The drama also stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.


Zorba the Greek



This 1964 dramedy follows a reserved British writer, influenced by his association with the gregarious Alexis Zorba, while visiting Crete. Although the movie’s based on a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba was inspired by mine worker George Zorbas.


The Blob



Believe it or not, the 1958 cult sci-fi classic The Blob has a connection to reality. In 1950, four police officers reportedly encountered a mysterious glistening 6-foot mass that fell from the sky and appeared to be alive.


Lucky Numbers



The dark comedy Lucky Numbers, starring John Travolta as a Pennsylvania weatherman who conspires to rig the state lottery, was based on a real-life 1980 lottery scandal, minus the sex and murder added to the film.


Almost Famous



An adolescent fantasy is realized in this semi-autobiographical Cameron Crowe film, when a teen journalist (Patrick Fugit) gets to travel with a rock band for a Rolling Stone article. The star-studded cast also features Kate Hudson and Billy Crudup.


Catch Me If You Can



Also in 2002, DiCaprio starred in Catch Me If You Can. Although his role landed him a nomination at the Golden Globes, he was not nominated for Best Actor by the Academy.