In The offer, a limited series on the making of The Godfather on Paramount+, Justin Chambers makes an appearance in the role of Marlon Brando, a titan of cinema that it would be difficult to embody without falling into caricature. Chambers isn’t wisely inspired by the many parodies that exist of the Corleone patriarch, nor by Brando’s own preference for method acting, choosing instead to deliver a sober and authentic portrayal of the actor.

Portraying another actor can often feel hollow (which is probably why they’re rarely attempted), but the best performances humanize characters who have both public and private personalities. Far from just pretending to be them, they seek to make them accessible by finding their hidden truths, showing them multifaceted and above all by reminding fans that they are real people.


Johnny Depp – Ed Wood (Ed Wood)

Johnny Depp as Ed Wood in a fitting room

Ed Wood was obviously a weird and quirky director and actor, so it only makes sense that Johnny Depp, known for directing weird and quirky movies like Edward Scissorhands, would once again collaborate with Tim Burton to portray the Hollywood pariah at his most prolific.

RELATED: Ed Wood’s 10 Greatest Movies (According To IMDb)

Wood loved his films so much that he acted in many of them, and is particularly known for playing both roles in Glen and Glenda. Depp is full of vigor, bravado and warmth in Ed Wood as a man happy to make quirky exploitation films, treating Wood’s B- and C-grade films like Oscar-winning masterpieces. Loving his own films with the ardor he had, no doubt the real Ed Wood would have been proud.

Robert Downey Jr. – Charlie Chaplin (Chaplin)

Robert Down Jr as Charlie Chaplin in his little tramp costume in Chaplin

Robert Downey Jr. became one of many actors inseparable from the characters they played, but long before he was Tony Stark, he was Charles Chaplin. With his bowler hat and whimsical waddle, he was the spitting image of Little Tramp, one of Chaplin’s most famous characters, also known as Batman or Mickey Mouse.

Chaplin chooses to emphasize the titular character’s rowdy lifestyle and sex life more than his filmmaking, but Downey’s performance remains grounded and vulnerable. It may be hard to believe that at some point in the 20s and 30s Chaplin was a global megastar, but after watching Downey channel his trademark energy into Chaplin’s best-known routines, it’s not hard. to understand why.

Renee Zellweger – Judy Garland (Judy)

Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland in Judy

Judy Garland is most commonly associated with The Wizard of Oz or more specifically her doe-eyed youth, but Judy given Renée Zellweger takes this opportunity to remind fans that Garland was, in fact, a whole person, a strong singer and a powerful woman, even though the industry tried to deny it.

Zellweger honors Garland’s legacy by ensuring that her trials and tribulations and triumphs are conveyed, allowing her to emerge as a performer who struggled to take control of her own narrative but refused to give up her efforts. . Zellweger received the Academy Award for Best Actress for this inspiring performance.

Jim Carrey – Andy Kaufman (Man on the Moon)

Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman onstage in Man on the Moon

Rarely have Jim Carrey’s gifts for the absurd, the unexpected and the serious been so superbly combined as in Man on the Moon, where the comedian played Andy Kaufman. Kaufman, like Carrey, was an actor, comedian, and performance artist, and his talents even extended into professional wrestling on occasion.

RELATED: The 10 Best Jim Carrey Movies, According To Metacritic

The film follows the king of grumpy humor through his childhood, his stand-up days and beyond, giving Carrey plenty of material to work with. He has the creative bandwidth to push forward, taking Kaufman’s work seriously, including the gags he was known to play on the co-stars of Saturday Night Live and Taxi.

Martin Landau – Bela Lugosi (Ed Wood)

Bela Lugosi’s version of Dracula was long considered the best nearly a century after first donning the cape, but in his later years the horror icon was only remembered for his drug use. Ed Wood still thought Lugosi was a star, even though he was struggling, and Martin Landau’s performance as Lugusoi in Ed Wood reminds moviegoers why.

Opposite Depp’s fiery Wood, Landau’s decrepit star doesn’t shine as brightly, but he imbues Lugosi with respect and dignity. He is careful to show how Wood’s sincerity and kind words transform Lugosi on screen, as if to express how one person’s belief in someone else can mean the difference between life and the death.

Ben Affleck – George Reeves (Hollywoodland)

George Reeves (Ben Affleck) flying on wires in Hollywoodland

Before There Was Christopher Reeve, George Reeves donned the red and blue suit to represent Superman for the The Adventures of Superman. While he may not be considered one of Superman’s best actors, the series was a staple of 1950s television until Reeves died under mysterious circumstances in 1959. Hollywoodland explores his death, and although he was thought to have committed suicide, he was more than likely murdered.

Ben Affleck, who bears a striking resemblance to Reeves in both face and frame, serves double duty as Reeves and, in flashback clips, the Man of Steel himself. It also shows the conflict between the superhero and the man behind the costume, as well as the studio puppet and the hopeful movie star, letting the audience come to their own conclusion as to whether depression – or something someone else – was responsible for his death.

Cate Blanchett – Katharine Hepburn (The Aviator)

Katharine Hepburn sits and gazes alongside her in The Aviator.

There were few people who could get away with millionaire Howard Hughes, but in the aviator, that person is Katharine Hepburn, played with aplomb by Cate Blanchett. Hepburn has already been parodied in her later years, but it’s nice to see her here as a young, confident and cheeky equal to Hughes as he sought greater heights in the Hollywood studios and then in the air.

RELATED: Martin Scorsese’s 7 Most Interesting Biopic Subjects, Ranked

There are plenty of celebrities playing celebrities in the film (Gwen Stefani plays Jean Harlow at one point), but Blanchett shows the most authenticity. Its North Star is the fact that Hepburn cared about what had happened to Hughes, even as she watched the darkness close in on him, and that lends depth to Blanchett’s performance.

Margot Robbie – Sharon Tate (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Once upon a time in Hollywood is one of the best movies where actors play actors, but surrounding the fictional performers played by Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio is a whole cast of talent playing ’70s stars like Bruce Lee and Sharon Tate.

It’s Margot Robbie’s turn as Sharon Tate who really shines, especially since the real Tate’s life was so tragically short, robbing the world of any other movies starring the likeable blonde. But Robbie’s role, while not important, is fully realized and fleshed out, and aided by Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist ending.

Michelle Williams – Marilyn Monroe (My week with Marilyn)

Did the world ever really know Marilyn Monroe? There were so many versions of her, in her movies, on the red carpet and in her private life that it’s hard to be sure, especially for a Hollywood icon. But Michelle Williams offers the best insight into every facet of Monroe in My week with Marilyn, about a young production assistant who spends a week with her in the English countryside while she shoots The Prince and the Showgirl.

Not only does Williams get the big lines singing, dancing, and strutting around in sequined dresses, but she also gets the little details right, like realizing that Monroe had a voice for the movies and one for her everyday life. Monroe’s private moments weren’t captured on film, so Williams has to do her best to bring them together, and she does more than that; she gives Monroe a vessel to grow.

Jason Scott Lee – Bruce Lee (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story)

Released the same year news of Brandon Lee’s death broke, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story follows the meteoric rise of Brandon’s father, Bruce Lee, the martial arts superstar who had just moved from Hong Kong to Hollywood before passing away under mysterious circumstances.

As Lee, Jason Scott Lee not only gets all of the star’s gravity-defying moves, but he also infuses him with the humor and daring fashion sense that Bruce Lee was known for. Lee’s zest for life off screen is what made him so enjoyable to watch on screen, and this performance by Lee will make fans miss Little Dragon even more.

NEXT: 10 Best Performances Where Actors Played Fictionalized Versions Of Themselves

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