Issue 8: Article—Hollywood Icons Reincarnated

Each issue, RSL offers up that perennial internet favourite: the themed list. For this issue, we take a look at some genuine Hollywood icons who were fictionalized on the big screen…

My Week with Marilyn (2011)

MMWho’s the star? Three for the price of one, actually, as the film features both Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier and Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh. However, the star of the show is Michelle Williams as the one and only Marilyn Monroe.

What’s the story? Eddie Redmayne stars as Colin Clark, a film student who get himself a job on the London set of The Prince and the Showgirl where he gets up close to Monroe and witnesses first hand the friction between Olivier and the ‘blonde bombshell’. The film was written by Adrian Hodges from the real Colin Clark’s books.

ChaplinChaplin (1992)

Who’s the star? Robert Downey Jr is silent film icon and filmmaker, Charlie Chaplin. The film also features Kevin Kline as Douglas Fairbanks and Maria Pitillo as Mary Pickford.

What’s the story? Despite his current career resurgence, this is still seen by many as Downey Jr’s greatest performance, and the actor went to great lengths to bring Chaplin to life. Richard Attenborough directed the script, credited to William Boyd, Bryan Forbes and William Goldman from David Robinson’s book, Chaplin: His Life and Art and Chaplin’s own autobiography. Interestingly, Geraldine Chaplin plays her own paternal grandmother, Hannah Chaplin, in the film.

Peter SThe Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)

Who’s the star? As the title suggests, the focus here is on Geoffrey Rush’s Sellers. However, the film features Charlize Theron as Britt Ekland and Sonia Aquino as Sophia Loren. Stanley Tucci also pops up as director, Stanley Kubrick.

What’s the story? This biopic didn’t pull many punches in its depiction of Sellers’ turbulent personal life. Ekland was his second wife and he was briefly engaged to Liza Minnelli (who’s not portrayed in the film). He fell for Loren while they were filming The Millionairess. Stephen Hopkins directed the script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, which was adapted from Roger Lewis’ titular book.

Gable and Lombard (1976)

GableAndLombardWho’s the star? In this case stars. The film features James Brolin as Clark Gable and Jill Clayburgh as Carole Lombard.

What’s the story? While it features two of the best known figures from early Hollywood, this biopic plays fast and loose with the facts, concocting a story of the romance and marriage between Gable and Lombard. The not-so-happy ending is real, though. The film was directed by Sidney J. Furie and written by Barry Sandler.

AviatorThe Aviator (2004)

Who’s the star? A veritable feast of Hollywood icons here, with Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner, Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow, and Jude Law as Errol Flynn. However, all eyes were on Cate Blanchett as the formidable Katharine Hepburn. Best Supporting Actress winner Blanchett was the first actor to win an Oscar playing an Oscar winner.

What’s the story? We continue our Scorsese tribute with this biopic of Howard Hughes, which covers the period from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s, encompassing his career as a successful film producer, as well as his achievements in aviation. Hughes was romantically involved with Hepburn, along with a number of other actresses. The film was adapted by John Logan from non-fiction book, Howard Hughes: The Secret Life, by Charles Higham.

Me and Orson Welles (2008)

OrsonWho’s the star? Christian McKay steps magnificently into the formidable shoes of Orson Welles, circa 1937.

What’s the story? Zac Efron is the young actor who gets swept into Welles’ world when he’s cast in a New York production of Julius Caesar. While it would be a few years before Citizen Kane booked Welles’ place in Hollywood history, he was already established on stage and radio when he mounted this production. The film, based on Robert Kaplow’s novel, was adapted by Holly Gent Palmo and Vincent Palmo and directed by Richard Linklater.

Life (2015)

LifeWho’s the star? Dane DeHaan stars as James Dean in this forthcoming release.

What’s the story? The film is based on the friendship between Life magazine photographer, Dennis Stock, and the iconic Hollywood actor, who died aged just 24. It’s set in the 1950s, before the release of East of Eden, which was Dean’s first major screen role. Life is directed by Anton Corbijn and written by Luke Davies.

Issue 9 of RSL is out on 14 September.