18 Absolutely Fascinating People Whose Stories Would Make Incredible Biopics

18 Absolutely Fascinating People Whose Stories Would Make Incredible Biopics
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18 Absolutely Fascinating People Whose Stories Would Make Incredible Biopics

"Why is there not already a film about her?"

uxeOMFZ_w_large.jpg?crop=500%253A499%253B-1%252C0&downsize=60:*&output-format=jpg&output-quality=autoby Mary Colussi

BuzzFeed Staff


Note: This post contains a story about attempted suicide.

A little while ago, I posted a roundup of real-life people and events that BuzzFeed readers think are prime candidates for being the subject of the next hit biopic. The commenters responded with a historical goldmine of their own fascinating "based on a true story" pitches. Here are 18 of their ideas.

Submissions may have been edited for length and/or clarity. 

1. "Sessue Hayakawa. He's considered one of the first Hollywood sex symbols. At first, he tried to join the Japanese Navy, but he failed his physical. Because of the shame, he attempted seppuku, but was saved by his parents. He came to the US for college and became a banker, but then moved to Los Angeles, got exposed to the theater scene in Little Tokyo, and fell in love. He eventually became one of the biggest silent film stars and was often the brooding, misunderstood villain or the brooding, standoffish male lead. His fame was on the same level as Chaplin and John Barrymore at the time, and until last year, I had NEVER heard of him. He was so big he eventually started his own production company."


John Springer Collection / Corbis via Getty Images

"Because anti-Asian sentiment was on the rise, he was kinda forced to leave Hollywood, and instead acted on stages in Broadway and Japan. He was invited to perform a play in Paris, then got stuck there during the German occupation. In his later career, he was in The Bridge on the River Kwai, for which he received the Best Supporting Actor nomination, one of few Asian actors to be nominated for an Academy Award."


2. "Amal Clooney, with a focus on her philanthropy and human rights cases in international courts at The Hague, as well as the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and the European Court of Human Rights."


Drew Angerer / Getty Images


3. "I would love to see a movie about Angela Davis with, of course, her permission. She was and still is a feminist and political activist. I'd love to see Zendaya playing her."


Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / via Getty


4. "I would love to see a real movie about the Navajo Code Talkers (and not the crappy one that focused on Nicolas Cage and his character)."


Historical / Corbis via Getty Images


"My late grandfather was a code talker! He told us about one time being stranded on an island in the Pacific. They ran out of rations and could've starved. But some of the Navajo soldiers caught a wild goat and butchered it. Then, they cooked it and ate it." 


5. "Amelia Earhart. You don’t get to really hear of who she was before she disappeared."


Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / via Getty


(There was a 2009 biopic of Earhart, which was titled Amelia and starred Hilary Swank as the aviator, but it was badly reviewed, earning only a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes.)

6. "Colby Coombs! After an avalanche, he survived nine days alone on the third-highest mountain in the US with a BROKEN NECK, and he survived! One of the wildest stories that would be an incredible movie."


Buyenlarge / Getty Images

—Campbell Stack

Pictured is Mount Foraker, the Alaska mountain where Coombs's incredible survival story took place. 

7. "I want a Phil Lynott biopic. I love Thin Lizzy, and I can't imagine being Black in Ireland in the '50s and '60s. I'm American, so not many people here know about him."


Paul Natkin / Getty Images


8. "Ed Dwight Jr., who was considered by NASA as an astronaut candidate but was never selected because of his race. He has had a really diverse career, though, and is now an honorary member of the Space Force."


Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / via Getty


9. "HEDY LAMARR, PLEASE. A gorgeous actress who spied on Nazis, escaped an abusive marriage, and invented the technological predecessor to Bluetooth? Why is there not already a film about her?"


Donaldson Collection / Getty Images


10. "Virginia Hall. She was a World War II spy who helped engage in guerrilla warfare against the Nazis in France. She was considered by the Nazis as the most dangerous of all Allied spies. She also called her prosthetic leg 'Cuthbert.' There is a great Drunk History segment on her."


Comedy Central / Via youtube.com


(Pictured is Alia Shawkat playing Hall in her Drunk History segment.)

11. "Has there ever been a film made about the amazing Frederick Douglass? I would love to see one about him. He was such an incredibly brave and intelligent man; he basically taught himself to read and write. Everyone should read his autobiography — amazing."


Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / via Getty


(HBO released a documentary called Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches this year, if you want to check it out!) 

12. "I’d love to see a biopic about Fleetwood Mac. Those people had some drama!"


Fin Costello / Redferns / via Getty


13. "My choice would be Princess Charlotte, who shaped the world by dying. She was the British monarchy's last hope to produce a male heir. She and her infant son died in childbirth, thus clearing the path for Queen Victoria to ascend to the throne. She was the product of her parents' loveless marriage and used as a pawn in her parents' hatred of each other until, as a child, she basically lived alone. Princess Charlotte and Queen Victoria's Uncle Leopold fell in love at first sight. They married and were very happy. She miscarried her first pregnancy but did not survive after eventually giving birth to a stillborn son. Both the History Chicks and Noble Blood podcasts have covered her."


Universalimagesgroup / Getty Images


14. "Rosalind Franklin. She worked alongside Watson and Crick to discover DNA, only to be denied a Nobel Prize because she was told no one would believe a woman was smart enough to do such complicated scientific work."


Universal History Archive / Universal Images Group via Getty Images


15. "D'Eon de Beaumont, the Chevalier de Beaumont was a fascinating person. Fought in the Seven Years' War, spied on Russia and England for France, was a friend of Louis XV and Catherine the Great, was a part of a secret society, and lived the last few decades of their long life as a woman, though they were assigned male at birth and lived most of their life as male. A Netflix series waiting to happen."


Hulton Archive / Getty Images


16. "Katalin Karikó. A researcher and immigrant who rarely got grants, had no personal lab, and never earned more than $60,000. For four decades, she kept working on mRNA — the basis for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines."


Stephen J. Boitano / LightRocket via Getty Images


17. "Catherine Parr would be amazing! She was Henry VIII's last wife, though she loved another man, the first woman to publish a book in England that wasn’t under a pen name, and the first who got a woman to paint her picture. She was one of the first women's rights activists in England, and she truly rocked."


Photo 12 / Universal Images Group via Getty Images


18. And finally, this detailed pitch for a truly remarkable scientific achievement: "April 15, 1923: Insulin becomes generally available. Imagine this: A huge hospital ward filled with dying children. Fifty-plus kids all dying from diabetic ketoacidosis, most of them in a comatose state. Grieving family members in attendance awaiting the inevitable…death. Three desperate scientists — medical scientist, doctor, and Nobel laureate Frederick Banting, lab assistant Charles Best, and biochemist James Collip — race from bedside to bedside injecting the entire ward with the new purified drug, insulin. In one of the most dramatic moments in medical history, before they reached the last dying child, the first few were awakening from their coma. The frantic families erupt in exclamations of joy."


Universalimagesgroup / Getty Images


(Pictured is Frederick Banting.) 

And here's a bonus book recommendation, if you, like me, want to know more: 

"The book Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg is really good. It covers the different doctors who worked with diabetic patients, the researchers who helped discover and formulate insulin, the pharmaceutical companies who made the insulin, and focuses a lot on Elizabeth Hughes. She developed diabetes as a young girl in a time where it was a death sentence, and the book covers her parents' struggle with it, her attending doctor who was at the time an expert in diabetes, and how insulin saved her life." 


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