Actors who played real people
Given the task of playing real-life people ... these stars nailed it!  

Stars as Nelson Mandela

A slew of actors have had the honors of playing the late Nelson Mandela on the big screen, most recently Idris Elba, far left, whose role as the anti-apartheid hero in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" premiered just after his death. 

From left, Morgan Freeman played the icon in "Invictus," Dennis Haysbert took on the role in "Goodbye Bafana," Terrence Howard got his chance in "Winnie," and Sidney Poitier in TV movie "Mandela and de Klerk." Actors David Harewood and Danny Glover also played Mandela in TV movies.


Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth Taylor

We have never seen Tim Burton's wife look quite this good! 

Helena Bonham Carter is the latest actress to portray the legendary Elizabeth Taylor in a made-for-TV movie that will air on the BBC. Dominic West (shown here) will play the part of Richard Burton for the 90-minute drama about their tumultuous love affair, appropriately titled: "Burton and Taylor."

Check out who else was spot on to play iconic characters.


Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln

The star of "Lincoln" (2012) won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for his portrayal of the 16th President of the United States.

(Touchstone Pictures)


Naomi Watts as Princess Diana

"Diana" isn't due out till Fall 2013, but based on the looks of this promo photo, Naomi Watts nailed it!


Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash

"Walk the Line" won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical in 2006 and Joaquin took home the gold for Best actor for his portrayal of the legendary country singer, Johnny Cash. He introduced Cash and his famous songs to a generation that hadn't heard his music before.

(20th Century Fox)

Michelle William as Marilyn Monroe

Michelle was nominated for an Oscar for playing Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn" (2011). She looked so much like her that when she shot magazine covers in character it was hard to tell which was the real and which was the fake Marilyn. 

(The Weinstein Company)

Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela

Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela

The critically acclaimed actor was nominated for every award imaginable when he portrayed South African President Nelson Mandela for "Invictus" (2009)

(Warner Bros.)

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles

Prior to playing legendary musician Ray Charles in the 2004 film "Ray," Jamie was more of a comedic actor and not exactly taken seriously. But this role garnered him an Academy Award and a fast track to the hit list.

(Universal Pictures)

Beyonce as Etta James

The singer donned a blonde wig to play Etta James in the 2008 flick "Cadillac Records." The scenes where she depicts Etta's drug-filled days are chilling.

(Sony Pictures)

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk

Sean Penn is arguably the best actor of our time and continuously surprising audiences with his range. In 2008 he did it again when he portrayed Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official. He won his second Academy Award for playing Harvey (the first was for "Mystic River").

(Focus Features)

Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor

In her first major role since her legal issues, Lindsay depicts screen actress Elizabeth Taylor in the Lifetime movie, "Liz & Dick."

It's hard to see the resemblance when LiLo has long red locks, but throw a short black wig on her and there is an uncanny resemblance.


Meryl Streep as Julia Child

Meryl Streep as Julia Child

There isn't a single role that Meryl Streep hasn't nailed. She recently portrayed Margaret Thatcher in 2011's "The Iron Lady," a role which garnished her an Oscar. 

But we're used to seeing the serious side of Meryl. It was her portrayal of the quirky chef Julia Child in 2009's "Julie & Julia" that really stands out. 

(Columbia Pictures)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes

Leo is another one that nails every role he takes on. In 2004's "The Aviator," the actor was frighteningly believable as multi-millionaire-gone-crazy Howard Hughes. 

(Warner Bros.)



Jennifer Lopez as Selena

These days Jennifer Lopez isn't exactly considered a serious actress, even though she's a great musical performer. In 1997, however, she was critically acclaimed for playing the late "Selena." She was even nominated for a Golden Globe.

(Warner Bros.)

Anthony Hopkins as Richard Nixon

Oliver Stone's "Nixon" was met with a lot of criticism in 1995. But despite the discrepancies about what was fictional and what was true, Anthony Hopkins was amazing as the former president.

(Hollywood Pictures)


Will Smith as Muhammad Ali

Will Smith played the renowned boxer in the biopic "Ali" in 2001. Will spent a year researching for the role and reportedly trained for 7 hours a day to be a convincing boxer. 

The actor later said that playing the champ was his proudest work as an actor.

(Columbia Pictures)

Actors who played real people

Given the task of playing real-life people ... these stars nailed it!  

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