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Adam Berry/Getty Images

12 People Who Hated Their Own Biopics

Adam Berry/Getty Images
Adam Berry/Getty Images

While it might seem fun to be the subject of a feature film, not every person-turned-character has loved seeing his or her life play out on the big screen. As Stephen Frears' The Program, about the fall of Lance Armstrong, hits theaters today, we're taking a look back at 12 people who hated the movies made about their lives.

1. MARK ZUCKERBERG // THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)

There aren’t a lot of college students whose (sober) exploits would be interesting enough to sustain a two-hour running time. But Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t your typical co-ed. While many of the key players involved in the multi-billion-dollar Website’s founding have pointed out inaccuracies in David Fincher’s The Social Network, Zuckerberg has been more lighthearted with his criticism. In an interview with 60 Minutes, he noted that “it’s pretty interesting to see what parts they got right and what parts they got wrong. I think that they got every single T-shirt that they had the Mark Zuckerberg character wear right; I think I own all of those T-shirts. And they got the sandals right and all that. But … there are hugely basic things that they got wrong, too,” he added. "[They] made it seem like my whole motivation for building Facebook was so I could get girls, right? And they completely left out the fact that my girlfriend, I've been dating since before I started Facebook.”

2. HUNTER “PATCH” ADAMS // PATCH ADAMS (1998)

A lot of people hated Patch Adams, in which Robin Williams plays a medical student attempting to prove that laughter is indeed the best medicine by running around in a red nose. Even Patch Adams hated Patch Adams. In an interview with New Renaissance Magazine, the good doctor and founder of the Gesundheit! Institute, which promotes the importance of “humanitarian clowning” by sending clowns into war zones, refugee camps, and orphanages, noted that, “After the movie, there wasn't a single positive article about our work or me. There were dumb, stupid, meaningless things ... it made my children cry. They actually thought that they didn't know the person they were reading about … I knew the movie would do this,” he continued. “I would become a funny doctor. Imagine how shallow that is relative to who I am. I just got back from taking 17 clowns to Cuba, which was hit by the worst hurricane in their history. The month before that, we took 30 clowns from seven countries, ages 16 to 65, to Russia for the 17th year in a row.”

It wasn't Williams' first brush with a bad review from the person he was playing: Adrian Cronauer, the military DJ portrayed by Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam, wasn’t thrilled with his representation either, though he liked the movie just fine. “It was never intended to be an accurate point-by-point biography,” Cronauer told The Fayetteville Observer. “It was intended as a piece of entertainment, and [Williams] was playing a character named Adrian Cronauer who shared a lot of my experiences. But actually, he was playing Robin Williams. That's what he always does. He was nominated for an Academy Award; I can't argue with that.”

3. JULIAN ASSANGE // THE FIFTH ESTATE (2013)

Prior to shooting The Fifth Estate, Bill Condon’s 2013 WikiLeaks film, star Benedict Cumberbatch reached out to Julian Assange to request a meeting so that the actor could better get to know the man he would be portraying. What he got instead was a very, very long letter back, in which Assange laid out the many reasons why Cumberbatch should quit the film—which Assange called "toxic," "deceitful," and "wretched."

“I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film,” Assange wrote. “You will be used, as a hired gun, to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it. To present me as someone morally compromised and to place me in a falsified history. To create a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth.”

4. SARAH PALIN // GAME CHANGE (2012)

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Shortly before the 2012 premiere of Game Change, HBO’s take on the campaign trail relationship between John McCain (played by Ed Harris) and Sarah Palin (portrayed by Julianne Moore) during the 2008 presidential election, Palin told Fox News that she was “not concerned about an HBO movie based on a false narrative when there are so many other things to be concerned about.” Separately, in a conference call with ABC News, foreign policy consultant Randy Scheunemann remarked that, “To call this movie fiction gives fiction a bad name,” while Meg Stapleton, Palin’s former spokeswoman, admitted that: “Looking at the trailers alone gets my blood boiling.”

5. DAVID LETTERMAN // THE LATE SHIFT (1996)

David Letterman has never made a secret of his feelings toward late-night competitor Jay Leno (a few years ago, he told Oprah that Leno, whom he used to consider a friend, may be “the most insecure person I have ever known”). Nor has he made a secret of his disdain for The Late Shift, the HBO movie which recounted the duo’s battle to replace The Tonight Show chair left open by Johnny Carson’s retirement. For months, Letterman mocked the film in his opening monologues and made John Michael Higgins, who portrayed him in the film, a favorite target. “I've seen a clip reel, and it's just bizarre,” Letterman said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “The guy who's playing me—and I'm sure he's a fine actor—but his interpretation seems to be that I'm, well, a circus chimp. He looks like he's insane, like he's a budding psychopath. And afterward I thought, ‘Well, maybe this is how I strike people as being.’”

6. ART HOWE // MONEYBALL (2011)

Shortly after Moneyball's release, Art Howe revealed his disappointment in the film to The Houston Chronicle. “First of all, Philip Seymour Hoffman physically didn’t resemble me in any way,” Howe noted. “He was a little on the heavy side. And just the way he portrayed me was very disappointing and probably 180 degrees from what I really am, so that was disappointing too… I’ve spent my whole career trying to build a good reputation and be a good baseball man and someone who people like to play for and all of the above,” he continued. “Then in two hours, people who don’t know me—and Brad Pitt’s a big name, [so] people are going to see his movies—and all these people across the country are going to go in and get this perception of me that’s totally unfair and untruthful. So I’m very upset.”

7. WINNIE MANDELA // WINNIE (2011)

Winnie Mandela has nothing against Jennifer Hudson, who played her in Winnie, the 2011 big-screen adaptation of Annè Marié du Preez Bezdrob's biography, Winnie Mandela: A Life. But she had a point when she complained to CNN that she felt it was irresponsible of the filmmakers to not consult her on the project. “I have absolutely nothing against Jennifer, but I have everything against the movie itself,” she said. “I was not consulted. I am still alive. And I think that it is total disrespect to come to South Africa, make a movie about my struggle, and call that movie some translation of ‘The Romantic Life of Winnie Mandela.’ I think it is an insult. I don’t know what would be romantic in our bitter struggle.”

8. HUNTER S. THOMPSON // WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM (1980)

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Where the Buffalo Roam isn’t a straight biopic, but that didn’t stop Hunter S. Thompson from picking on it. When asked what he thought of the film, Thompson responded: “Horrible pile of crap. [Bill] Murray did a good job. But it was a bad script. You can't beat a bad script. It was just a horrible movie. A cartoon. But Bill Murray did a good job. We actually wrote and shot several different endings and beginnings and they all got cut out in the end. It was disappointing. Not to mention that I have to live with it. It's like go into a bar somewhere and people start to giggle and you don't know why, and they're all watching that f*cking movie.”

9. IKE TURNER // WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT (1993)

Regardless of its accuracy, you can’t blame the late Ike Turner for not being thrilled with how he was portrayed by Laurence Fishburne in 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It, the story of his life with ex-wife Tina. Fishburne earned an Oscar nomination for the role, but Turner was not as generous with his praise. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Turner announced his plans to hold a press conference in order to win back his good name and that he would be writing his own autobiography, entitled That’s What Love’s Got to Do With It.

“The only time I ever punched Tina with my fist was the last fight we had,” Turner said. “I hit her after she kneed me in the chest. Prior to that, our fights, or our little slaps, or whatever they were, were all just about attitude. Me and Tina never fought about other women or about her not keeping house or her not taking care of the kids. It was always because she was looking sad and wouldn't tell me what was wrong with her. She would take that attitude with her on to the stage and that would really depress me. So after the show, I'd end up slapping her or something. But then we'd be okay.”

10. MICHAEL OHER // THE BLIND SIDE (2009)

Sandra Bullock may have nabbed an Oscar for her role in The Blind Side, playing the adoptive mother to Michael Oher, a troubled and homeless teenager who went on to become a first round NFL draft pick, but Oher himself isn’t handing out any accolades. And the 2013 Super Bowl champ has made it clear that he’s tired of being asked questions about filmmaking instead of football. “I'm tired of the movie,” he told the Los Angeles Times in early 2013, shortly before his Super Bowl face-off with the San Francisco 49ers. “Football is what got me here, and the movie, it wasn't me … The movie is great, it's very inspiring to tons of people all over the world, but the main problem I have is with the football part of it. Sports is all I had growing up, and the movie made me look like I didn't know anything.”

11. LIL’ KIM // NOTORIOUS (2009)

It’s probably best to stay on rapper Lil’ Kim’s good side, but it’s a lesson the makers of 2009’s Notorious, about the life and death of Notorious B.I.G., learned a little too late. In a 2009 cover story interview with Hip-Hop Weekly, Kim (who dated Biggie) blasted the film, stating that “most of the story is bullsh**” and confessed her disappointment in the decision to cast actress Naturi Naughton to play her, saying that she had been sent a copy of the actress’s audition tape and thought she was the worst possible choice.

12. MARC SCHILLER // PAIN & GAIN (2013)

YouTube

Moviemaker Michael Bay is not known for being funny. Which made his decision to shoot Pain & Gain—the story of a trio of Florida bodybuilders who kidnapped, tortured and murdered for financial gain—as a comedy more than baffling. Marc Schiller, one of the victims of the group known as the Sun Gym Gang, was particularly unamused (he is played by Tony Shalhoub in the movie, and renamed Victor Kershaw). “Obviously at the end they tried to kill me—and it wasn't that funny when they tried to kill me,” Schiller told The Huffington Post. “They did run me over with a car twice after trying to blow me up in the car. I was in a coma and somehow I got out … The way they tell it made it look like a comedy. You also gotta remember that not only I went through this, but certain people were killed, so making these guys look like nice guys is atrocious.”

An earlier version of this story ran in 2013.

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Every New Movie, TV Series, and Special Coming to Netflix in May
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Netflix is making way for loads of laughs in its library in May, with a handful of original comedy specials (Steve Martin, Martin Short, Carol Burnett, Tig Notaro, and John Mulvaney will all be there), plus the long-awaited return of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Here’s every new movie, TV series, and special making its way to Netflix in May.

MAY 1

27: Gone Too Soon

A Life of Its Own: The Truth About Medical Marijuana

Amelie

Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures: Season 1

Beautiful Girls

Darc

God's Own Country

Hachi: A Dog's Tale

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous Live at Radio City

Mr. Woodcock

My Perfect Romance

Pocoyo & Cars

Pocoyo & The Space Circus

Queens of Comedy: Season 1

Reasonable Doubt

Red Dragon

Scream 2

Shrek

Simon: Season 1

Sliding Doors

Sometimes

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Carter Effect

The Clapper

The Reaping

The Strange Name Movie

Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V: Season 2

MAY 2

Jailbreak

MAY 4

A Little Help with Carol Burnett

Anon

Busted!: Season 1

Dear White People: Volume 2

End Game

Forgive Us Our Debts

Kong: King of the Apes: Season 2

Manhunt

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Tina Fey

No Estoy Loca

The Rain: Season 1

MAY 5

Faces Places

MAY 6

The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale

MAY 8

Desolation

Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives

MAY 9

Dirty Girl

MAY 11

Bill Nye Saves the World: Season 3

Evil Genius: the True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist

Spirit Riding Free: Season 5

The Kissing Booth

The Who Was? Show: Season 1

MAY 13

Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife

MAY 14

The Phantom of the Opera

MAY 15

Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce: Season 4

Grand Designs: Seasons 13 - 14

Only God Forgives

The Game 365: Seasons 15 - 16

MAY 16

89

Mamma Mia!

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

The Kingdom

Wanted

MAY 18

Cargo

Catching Feelings

Inspector Gadget: Season 4

MAY 19

Bridge to Terabithia

Disney’s Scandal: Season 7

Small Town Crime

MAY 20

Some Kind of Beautiful

MAY 21

Señora Acero: Season 4

MAY 22

Mob Psycho 100: Season 1

Shooter: Season 2

Terrace House: Opening New Doors: Part 2

Tig Notaro Happy To Be Here

MAY 23

Explained

MAY 24

Fauda: Season 2

Survivors Guide to Prison

MAY 25

Ibiza

Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life

The Toys That Made Us: Season 2

Trollhunters: Part 3

MAY 26

Sara's Notebook

MAY 27

The Break with Michelle Wolf

MAY 29

Disney·Pixar's Coco

MAY 30

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 4

MAY 31

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Howard Stern

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20 Best Docuseries You Can Stream Right Now
A scene from Wild Wild Country (2018)
A scene from Wild Wild Country (2018)
Netflix

If your main interests are true crime and cooking, you’re in the middle of a Renaissance Age. The Michelangelos of nonfiction are consistently bringing stellar storytelling to twisty tales of murder and mayhem as well as luxurious shots of food prepared by the most creative culinary minds.

But these aren’t the only genres that documentary series are tackling. There’s a host of history, arts, travel, and more at your streaming fingertips. When you want to take a break from puzzling out who’s been wrongfully imprisoned, that is.

Here are the 20 best docuseries to watch right now, so start streaming.

1. WILD WILD COUNTRY (2018)

What happens when an Indian guru with thousands of American followers sets up shop near a small town in Oregon with the intent to create a commune? Incredibly sourced, this documentary that touches on every major civic issue—from religious liberty to voting rights—should be your new obsession. When you choose a side, be prepared to switch. Multiple times.

Where to watch it: Netflix

2. FLINT TOWN (2018)

If your heart is broken by what’s going on in Flint, Michigan, be prepared to have that pain magnified and complicated. The filmmakers behind this provocative series were embedded with police in Flint to offer us a glimpse at the area’s local struggles and national attention from November 2015 through early 2017.

Where to watch it: Netflix

3. MAKERS: WOMEN WHO MAKE AMERICA (2013)

Narrated by Meryl Streep, this three-part series covers a half-century of American experience from the earliest days of second-wave feminism through Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court nomination in the 1990s. Ellen DeGeneres, Condoleezza Rice, Sally Ride, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and more are featured, and the series got six more episodes in a second season.

Where to watch it: Makers.com

4. THE JINX (2015)

After the massive success of Serial in 2014, a one-two punch of true crime docuseries landed the following year. One was the immensely captivating study of power, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, which chronicled the bizarre, tangled web of the real estate mogul who was suspected of several murders. The show, which could be measured in jaw-drops per hour, both registered real life and uniquely affected it.

Where to watch it: HBO

5. MAKING A MURDERER (2015)

The second major true crime phenom of 2015 was 10 years in the making. Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos uncovered the unthinkable story of Steven Avery, a man wrongfully convicted of sexual assault who was later convicted of murdering a different woman, Teresa Halbach. Not just a magnifying glass on the justice system and a potential small town conspiracy, it’s also a display of how stories can successfully get our blood boiling.

Where to watch it: Netflix

6. WORMWOOD (2017)

Speaking of good conspiracies: documentary titan Errol Morris turns his keen eye to a CIA project that’s as famous as it is unknown—MKUltra. A Cold War-era mind control experiment. LSD and hypnosis. The mysterious death of a scientist. His son’s 60-year search for answers. Morris brings his incisive eye to the hunt.

Where to watch it: Netflix

7. FIVE CAME BACK (2017)

Based on Mark Harris’s superlative book, this historical doc features filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro discussing the WWII-era work of predecessors John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens. Also narrated by Meryl Streep, it looks at how the war shaped the directors and how they shaped the war. As a bonus, Netflix has the war-time documentaries featured in the film available to stream.

Where to watch it: Netflix

8. THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY (2011)

If you can’t afford film school, and your local college won’t let you audit any more courses, Mark Cousins’s 915-minute history is the next best thing. Unrivaled in its scope, watching it is like having a charming encyclopedia discuss its favorite movies. Yes, at 15-episodes it’s sprawling, so, yes, you should watch it all in one go. Carve out a weekend and be ready to take notes on all the movies you want to watch afterward.

Where to watch it: Sundance Now

9. UGLY DELICIOUS (2018)

David Chang, the host of the first season of The Mind of a Chef, has returned with a cultural mash-up disguised as a foodie show. What does it mean for pizza to be “authentic”? What do Korea and the American South have in common? With his casual charm in tow, Chang and a variety of special guests explore people through the food we love to eat as an artifact that brings us all together.

Where to watch it: Netflix

10. JAZZ (2000)

A legend of nonfiction, Ken Burns has more than a few docuseries available to stream, including long-form explorations of the Civil War and baseball. His 10-episode series on jazz exhaustively tracks nearly a century of the formation and evolution of the musical style across the United States. You’ll wanna mark off a big section of the calendar and crank up the volume.

Where to watch it: Amazon

11. THE STAIRCASE (2004)

In 2001, author Michael Peterson reported to police that his wife had died after falling down a set of stairs, but police didn’t buy the story and charged him with her murder. Before the current true crime boom, before Serial and all the rest, there was Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s Peabody Award-winning docuseries following Peterson’s winding court case. The mystery at the heart of the trial and the unparalleled access Lestrade had to Peterson’s defense make this a must-see. (Netflix just announced that it will be releasing three new episodes of the series this summer.)

Where to watch it: Sundance Now

12. PLANET EARTH II (2016)

The sequel to the 2006 original is a real stunner. Narrated (naturally) by Sir David Attenborough, featuring music from Hans Zimmer, and boasting gorgeous photography of our immeasurably fascinating planet, this follow-up takes us through different terrains to see the life contained within. There are snow leopards in the mountains, a swimming sloth in the islands, and even langurs in our own urban jungle. Open your eyes wide to learn a lot or put it on in the background to zen out.

Where to watch it: Netflix

13. THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEA (2009)

The cheapest way to visit Yosemite, Yellowstone, Muir Woods, and more. This Emmy-winning, six-part series is both a travelogue and a history lesson in conservation that takes up the argument of why these beautiful places should be preserved: to quote President Roosevelt, “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”

Where to watch it: Amazon

14. CONFLICT (2015)

Experience the too-often-untold stories of conflict zones through the lenses of world class photographers like Nicole Tung, Donna Ferraro, and João Silva. This heart-testing, bias-obliterating series is unique in its views into dark places and eye toward hope.

Where to watch it: Netflix

15. LAST CHANCE U (2016)

Far more than a sports documentary, the story of the players at East Mississippi Community College will have you rooting for personal victories as much as the points on the scoreboard. Many of the outstanding players on the squad lost spots at Division I schools because of disciplinary infractions or failing academics, so they’re seeking redemption in a program that wants them to return to the big-name schools. There are two full seasons to binge and a third on the way.

Where to watch it: Netflix

16. VICE (2013)

Currently in its sixth season, the series is known for asking tough questions that need immediate answers and giving viewers a street-level view of everything from killing cancer to juvenile justice reform. Its confrontational style of gonzo provocation won’t be everyone’s cup of spiked tea, but it’s filling an important gap that used to be filled by major network investigative journalists. When they let their subjects—from child soldiers suffering PTSD after fighting for ISIS to coal miners in Appalachia—tell their stories, nonfiction magic happens.

Where to watch it: HBO

17. CHEF’S TABLE (2015)

From David Gelb, the documentarian behind Jiro Dreams of Sushi, this doc series is a backstage pass to the kitchens of the world’s most elite chefs. The teams at Osteria Francescana, Blue Hill, Alinea, Pujol, and more open their doors to share their process, culinary creativity, and, of course, dozens of delicious courses. No shame in licking your screen.

Where to watch it: Netflix

18. NOBU’S JAPAN (2014)

For those looking to learn more about culture while chowing down, world-renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa guides guest chefs to different regions of Japan to ingest the sights, sounds, and spirits of the area before crafting a dish inspired by the journey. History is the main course, with a healthy dash of culinary invention that honors tradition.

Where to watch it: Sundance Now

19. THE SYSTEM (2014)

Should a jury decide if a child is sentenced to life in jail without parole? How can you go to jail for 20 years for shooting your gun inside your own home to deter thieves? These are just two of the questions examined by this knockout series about the conflicts, outdated methods, and biases lurking in America’s criminal justice system. Insightful and infuriating, it makes a strong companion to Ava DuVernay’s 13th.

Where to watch it: Al Jazeera and Sundance Now

20. BOBBY KENNEDY FOR PRESIDENT (2018)

It won’t be available until April 27 (so close!), but it’s well worth adding to your queue. This four-part series utilizes a wealth of footage, including unseen personal videos, to share the tragic story of Robert F. Kennedy’s run for president in the context of an era riven by racial strife. Watching this socio-political memorial told by many who were there (including Marian Wright and Congressman John Lewis), it will be impossible not to draw connections to the current day and wonder: What if?

Where to watch it: Netflix

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