Beyond the Sea
The Star: Singer Bobby Darin, as played by Kevin Spacey.
The Backstory: At 32, Darin made the uncomfortable discovery that the woman he thought was his mother was in fact his grandmother, and that his older sister was actually his mother. According to a friend of Darin’s, “Bobby was never quite the same after that.”
The Star: Singer Ray Charles, as played by Jamie Foxx.
The Backstory: Reportedly, the filmmakers haven’t shied away from the less flattering aspects of the musician’s life: The film takes place from 1935 to 1966, chronicling Charles’s battles with drugs and his legendary womanizing.
The Motorcycle Diaries
The Star:Revolutionary Che Guevara, as played by Gael García Bernal.
The Backstory: Don’t expect a revolution—the film looks at young med student Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s road trip across South America with his friend Alberto Granado, years before he was to call for the overthrow of Latin America’s political and economic structure.
The Star:Mogul/germophobe Howard Hughes, as played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Backstory: Those looking for an account of Hughes’s later years as a raving recluse will have to look elsewhere—Scorsese’s portrait ends in 1947.
The Star:Taxonomist-cum-sex- researcher Alfred Kinsey, as played by Liam Neeson.
The Backstory: In 1954, Kinsey, frantic after finding out that his Rockefeller Foundation funding had been cut, hanged himself from a pipe, tying the rope around his genitals. He was later hospitalized thanks to a resulting pelvic infection.
The Star:Peter Pan creator J. M. Barrie, as played by Johnny Depp.
The Backstory: Fox Searchlight stresses that the film is “inspired by” Barrie’s life rather than based upon it. Thus there is no mention of Barrie’s habit of photographing nude young boys, his sexual impotence, or how three of the Llewelyn Davies boys, who served as the real-life models for Peter Pan, later met with premature and/or horrible deaths.
The Star:The mythic king of Macedonia, as played by Colin Farrell.
The Backstory: How will it deal with the subject’s appetites? According to one historian, Alexander slept with “at least one man, four mistresses, three wives, a eunuch, and, so gossip believed, an Amazon.” Says Farrell: “It’s not a gay film, it’s not a straight film. It’s just a fucking story.”