The problem with our perception of history is that, over the years, the combined forces of Hollywood, gossip, and biased sources have come together to form an indestructible Voltron of ignorance that does nothing but shoot historical inaccuracy into our brains. As a result, many skewed images of famous people have been accepted as “common knowledge” in our cultural imagination despite being completely and provably wrong.
And we don’t mean little things like everyone getting Shakespeare’s hair color wrong. We’re talking about the defining traits of the people who made history. For instance …
We admit that sometimes directors have issues with the historical accuracy of either appearance or personality of some historical figures. However, acting talent of those who played the outstanding historical characters and the professionalism of the whole team can make such movie a huge success.
Xerxes I in ’300′
Portrayed by Rodrigo Santoro
The historical portrait of the Persian king Xerxes I is quite ambiguous. Some historians state that he was a narrow-minded and weak, yet arrogant and conceited, ruler while others consider him a wise and experienced warrior. It seems like in the movie they decided to combine these two portrayals of Xerxes. If it wasn’t enough, they granted the king with a very questionable wardrobe.
Alexander III of Macedon (Alexander the Great) in ’Alexander’
Portrayed by Colin Farrell
Critics have noticed a couple of serious historical inaccuracies in this movie. Plus, the appearance of Alexander, portrayed by Colin Farrell, is a little different from the original, don’t you think?
The young Salvador Dali in ’Little Ashes’
Portrayed by Robert Pattinson
Although Pattinson looks nothing like young Dali in reality, the actor did put his best to create the image of the great, eccentric, and genius artist.
King Leonidas I in ’300′
Portrayed by Gerard Butler
Historians say that the king of Sparta, Leonidas I, did nothing truly remarkable during all 10 years of his reign and only died heroically at the battle of Thermopylae. So, if the director planned to make a more historically accurate movie, the king Leonidas should not have been portrayed so brave and epic.
Emperor Commodus in ’Gladiator’
Portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t look like his historical prototype. In addition to this, the movie also suggests some inaccuracies concerning the biography of the Roman statesman. The real Commodus ruled Rome for almost 13 years, whilst in the movie he reigns ineffectively for about two years. Moreover, the emperor Commodus did participate in the gladiator battles, but always without any danger to his life or health.
William Wallace in ’Braveheart’
Portrayed by Mel Gibson
‘Braveheart’ was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won five nominations. However, historians still found some dramatic historical inaccuracies. For example, unlike Gibson’s character, the real Sir William Wallace was a Scottish knight and came from a noble family. And again, we can’t say the two look alike.
Joan of Arc in ’The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc’
Portrayed by Milla Jovovich
Despite Luc Besson’s dedication to details, the appearance of Joan in the movie was quite controversial. But Milla Jovovich was hands down amazing in this movie.
King Arthur in ’King Arthur’
Portrayed by Clive Owen
The title character in this movie looks very different from the legendary British leader. Plus, according to critics, the movie itself is full of historical inaccuracies.
King Henry VIII in ‘The Tudors’
Portrayed by Jonathan Rhys Meyers
As you can see from the original portrait of the King Henry VIII of England, he was much bigger than his TV double in ‘The Tudors’ series.
Cleopatra in ’Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra’
Portrayed by Monica Bellucci
Cleopatra easily won the heart of Roman dictator Julius Caesar and his successor Mark Antony, which is why it’s believed that the last pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt was extremely beautiful. But it fact, Cleopatra was small and not that attractive. Ironically, only beauties — Vivien Leigh, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, and Monica Bellucci — had a chance to portray this historical figure.