Sometimes, good news starts out with a lot of bad news. This was definitely the case when a community effort to stockpile toys for Christmas for kids in need was ruined not too long ago.
In Bridgeport, Connecticut, Greater Bridgeport Christian Fellowship had raised more than six storage pods’ worth of toy donations that were going to go to more than 6,000 children who would otherwise not have a very memorable Christmas. Unfortunately, thieves broke into the pods and made off with about 1,000 toys, putting a huge dent in the community’s plans.
In Massachusetts, a 36-year-old man named Lucas Burnley was talking to his mother-in-law when she mentioned the terrible church robbery in the neighboring state. Despite being of rather humble means as a small business owner, Burnley felt compelled to help. “I own a really, really small business and just want to feed my family,” Burnley said of his custom knife shop.
However, Burnley and his wife, Maddie, have a history of raising funds to buy Christmas gifts for kids, taking in an amazing total of $52,000 last year alone. Burnley may not have a seven-figure income, but he was in the position to help due to his history and connections in philanthropic efforts.
When the Burnleys were on their way to Connecticut, the church’s pastor, Eric Torres, had no idea what to expect. Three young men came that looked very intimidating and turned out to be gang members who had nonetheless volunteered to help the Burnleys deliver the toys. Torres couldn’t believe it.
He immediately went to hug Lucas Burnley as he got out of the truck and the work to unload thousands of toys began. It turned out that the kids would be having a merry Christmas after all. “Tragedy can knit a community together,” Torres said of the turnaround.
These Celebrities Look Exactly Like The Historical Figure They Portrayed
Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher
Anyone who has seen director Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady will undoubtedly remember Meryl Streep’s award-winning performance as the movie’s protagonist, Margret Thatcher. Not only did Streep look like Britain’s first ever female Prime Minister, but her work in front of the camera was so powerful and convincing that it earned her an Academy Award, a British Film and Television Award, and a Golden Globe all for best actress. That kind of recognition takes more than just looking the part!
Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth
If you’re going to be playing Britain’s longest serving, and one of the most popular Queens, in British history you’re going to need some serious stage presence. Thankfully, The Queen happened to have none other than award-winning actress Helen Mirren. Not only was the film critically acclaimed, but the actual Queen Elizabeth II was so impressed with Mirren’s acting that she invited her for a visit at Buckingham Palace. Hopefully the palace guards wouldn’t get confused between the two women.
Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock
Based on the book, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the movie tells the complex real life story of how the director’s most critically acclaimed film ever came into existence. The film stars two of the biggest giants in the British film industry, Sir Anthony Hopkins as director Alfred Hitchcock and Helen Mirren to play his wife, Alma Reville. Hopkins was showered with praise for his role in the film, although prosthetics and makeup definitely deserves some credit too.
Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo
Not everyone has heard of Frida Kahlo but she was one of Mexico’s most prominent and important magical realist painters of the 20th century. Although she began painting after World War II her work was not uncovered until the 1970s where she became an important figure in the feminist and LGBTQ movement. When Selma Hayek was given the part she stepped up to the challenge. Not only was this her breakout role, she was nominated for an Oscar as well.
Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela
Directed by Clint Eastwood, the 2009 film Invictus stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon as South African President Nelson Mandela and former rugby captain Francois Pienaar respectively. When deciding who in Hollywood could possibly do justice to one of South Africa’s most significant leaders, and a historical figure, it probably took one glance at a photo to see that Morgan Freeman was the man for the job. He rose to the challenge brilliantly, earning for himself an Academy Award nomination.
Denzel Washington as Malcolm X
This epic biographical feature about one of the biggest leaders in the civil rights movement had for itself one of the best directors and leading actors to elevate the film to the legendary status that it has today. Seeing Denzel Washington as Malcolm X has since arguably become one of the most memorable images for fans of Spike Lee movies. In fact, the film was so true to history that in 2010 it was archived in the National Film Registry.
Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs
We’re not going to lie on this one, we were a little bit surprised when we heard that Ashton Kutcher was being cast to portray Steve Jobs in the film about the former Apple CEO’s life. But after seeing him in the role it’s easy to see why he was picked for the job. Not only does Kutcher look like the man but, according to some critics, he even managed to match many of Steve Jobs’ mannerisms and behavioural characteristics.
Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin
Long before he ever put on the iron suit and led the Avengers in their fight to save the galaxy from Thanos, Robert Downey Jr. played one of the most important actors from the silent movie era. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Downey Jr. said he spent a year watching old Chaplin films in order to perfectly match the character’s movements and mannerisms. By the end of it Downey told reporters, “I know…he and I are connected.”
Daniel Day‑Lewis as Abraham Lincoln
According to the New York Times, Daniel Day-Lewis, as a two time Oscar winner, is notoriously picky when it comes to deciding movie roles. When it comes to choosing a role, Day-Lewis takes it very seriously, with an acting process so meticulous that even director Steven Spielberg didn’t question him about it. In preparation for the role, the Oscar winning actor read through all of the real Lincoln’s writings and even poured over any historical photos that he could find.
Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles
After Jamie Foxx decided to sign on for the lead role of Ray Charles in the 2004 film, Ray, the actor began an arduous journey in order to look the part. The first thing he did was a week-long fast in order to look as similar to the music star as possible. Afterwards, he actually agreed to have prosthetics placed over his eyes in order to blind him for the movie. He even played all the piano in the film.
Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison
The 1991 film directed by the same guy who wrote Scarface, Oliver Stone, The Doors is about well…The Doors. The rock band of the 1960s and 70s that drew screaming crowds of excited fans finally got turned into a biopic film starring Meg Ryan and Val Kilmer as lead singer Jim Morrison. Before casting Kilmer as the leading man in his film, Stone auditioned quite a number of famous actors including Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, John Travolta, and Richard Gere.
Adrien Brody As Salvador Dali
Set in the city of Paris, Adrien Brody makes an appearance, amongst a cast of Hollywood stars, as the one of the most famous surrealist painters – Salvador Dali. Even though Dali spent the majority of his life in Spain, it turns out that the film, Midnight in Paris, was actually historically correct. Dali did spend a significant amount of time during the 1920s living in Paris. Should a time traveler go back to Paris he might actually talk to Dali.
Sean Penn as Harvey Milk
Sean Penn doesn’t only look like historic gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, his portrayal of the man was so powerful and moving that he won an Academy Award for Best Actor. This was amongst the eight Oscar nominations that the movie was honored with during the 81st Academy Awards. It’s an unforgettable film about the first openly gay elected politician in California history, and seeing Penn as Milk will likely cause viewers to feel they are watching history.
Charlize Theron As Aileen Wuornos
Charlize Theron stars in the biographical film Monster, a film whose title was inspired and aptly named by its main character, Aileen Wuornos. Wuornos was a convicted criminal in Florida for committing some truly heinous crimes between 1989 and 1990 before her arrest and trial. The film was historical in its own right, even though Theron was fairly well known for previous works, Monster elevated her to previously unreached levels making her the first South African to win an Oscar.
Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan
A film “inspired by the music and the many lives of Bob Dylan,” I’m Not There doesn’t follow the general film formula that many audience viewers are used to. I’m Not There instead employs the talent of several or Hollywood’s greatest actors and actresses to portray Bob Dylan in numerous phases of his life. They include the likes of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Whinshaw who all come together in an unforgettable film.
James Franco As James Dean
Splayed across the movie poster was the unambiguous line “James Franco IS Jame Dean.” Just from looking at the actor in his role as the late A-list movie star its safe to say that the line is no exaggeration. The film was released in 2001 and doesn’t pull back as it follows the many trials and tribulations of one of America’s first male heartthrobs. The film, and Franco’s work in it, was very well received and honoured with numerous awards.
Geoffrey Rush as Peter Sellers
A television film about the life of British comedian Peter Sellers, it was a Golden Globe winner for Best Miniseries or Television Film – an award that must have looked nice sitting on the shelf next to the nine Emmys that were also awarded to it. The actor playing Sellers, Geoffery Rush, had a performance so stellar that one reviewer described him as like a person “who approached the role with the enthusiasm of a hungry child in a candy store.”
Hilary Swank as Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart has, for nearly a century, fascinated the public. Her penchant for taking on dangerous and risky flights has since resulted in her name being embedded on bridges, Navy ships, festivals, and even museums to honour this pioneer in flight. In 2009 a film biopic starring Hilary Swank was made to yet again pay homage to this historical figure. The film followed her life as both an up and coming pilot, all the way to her final, ill-fated, flight.
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote
This dark, biographical, film is both dark and captivating as it follows the story of author Truman Capote as he writes his novel, In Cold Blood. That book would put Capote in the history pages after it became the second best selling crime mystery novel ever, just behind Helter Skelter. For Philip Seymour Hoffman, it could possibly be described as the role he was born to play – the film earned him critical acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Benicio Del Toro As Ernesto “Che” Guevara
Che is a two-part film about Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara and starring Benicio Del Toro. The first part, The Argentine, is about Che Guevara’s activities in Cuba where part two, Guerrilla, focuses on Guevara in Bolivia. The film was presented at the Cannes Film Festival to glowing reviews for both director Steven Soderbergh and for lead actor Benicio Del Toro. In spite of all this success, the film only managed to gross $40.9 million against a budget of $58 million.
Michael Douglas as Liberace
Behind the Candelabra is a Steven Soderbergh film (the same director responsible for Magic Mike, Contagion, and the Ocean’s trilogy and film franchise) about child prodigy and later music star Liberace. The film stars Michael Douglas who, along with Matt Damon, was praised for his performance as the lead character of the film. The film aired on HBO in 2013 and seemed to have done justice to the highest paid musician of the 1950s-1970s, impressively getting 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe
Although the film is a biographical drama, My Week With Marilyn stays true to the title by only focusing on a single week in Marilyn Monroe’s life – a week in London in 1957 during the shooting of the film, The Prince and the Showgirl. Starring Michelle Williams, this film follows her as Monroe being toured around London by aspiring filmmaker Colin Clark after her husband leaves town. Filmed in London, the film even used the same studio that Monroe did.
Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman
Based on the life of famous comedian Andy Kaufman, a man whose jokes and pranks were so well known that when news of his death spread, fans actually believed he faked faked it as a practical joke. So who better to play this comedian than Jim Carrey? Carrey was so passionate about the role that in 2017, a full 18 years after the film Man on the Moon was released, a Netflix documentary aired featuring Carrey’s attachment to the role.
Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash
Based on two books written by the country singer himself, 1975‘s Man in Black: His Own Story in His Own Words and 1997’s Cash: The Autobiography, Walk the Line attempts to pay homage to the country singer’s life by starring Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash. It seems it’s safe to say that director James Mangold and the rest of the production crew nailed it by hiring Phoenix. Not only did he win an Oscar but so did co-star Reese Witherspoon.
Will Smith as Muhammad Ali
Watching Ali is like watching history unfold again on screen. Will Smith delivers yet another spectacular performance as the indomitable Muhammad Ali during the ten years of his life between 1964 to 1974. The film focuses on Ali’s fights for the heavyweight title against Sonny Liston along with the major social and political upheaval that changed and captivated the United States during the time. Although critics were falling over themselves praising the film it wasn’t exactly a box office smash.
Colin Firth as King George VI
Even though Colin Firth bears an uncanny resemblance to King George VI it turns out that he was director Tom Hooper’s third choice for the film. But as the old adage goes: third time’s the charm. That certainly seems to be the case for this film, even though Hugh Jackman passed up on the film, Colin Firth gave an unforgettable performance and soon found himself on stage at the Academy Awards holding the award for Best Actor of the year.
Benedict Cumberbatch As Stephen Hawking
Actors have different processes when it comes to understanding the characters they’re being asked to inhabit for films. For Benedict Cumberbatch, his process is the most…unusual. Or at the very least the most fun. In an interview on the Graham Norton Show, Cumberbatch said that in preparation for the film Hawking, about the life and accomplishments of Steven Hawking, he went out for a night on the town and ended up having quite a few drinks with the theoretical physicist.
Peter O’Toole As Lawrence Of Arabia
One of the most critically acclaimed films in the history of movies, Lawrence of Arabia is an epic British drama about the life of World War I officer T. E. Lawrence. Historians of the era would likely agree that a life as exciting and usual as Lawrence’s would make filming an excellent epic drama about his life quite achievable and the filmmakers didn’t let them down. Peter O’Toole in particular was praised for his role of the gallant British officer.
John Goodman As Babe Ruth
While the 1992 film, The Babe, is a biographical historical drama, the film does fictionalise a few moments in order to create an interesting film. John Goodman still steps up to the plate, both literally and metaphorically, in order to portray this baseball legend to his fullest. Thankfully, Goodman is no stranger to the world of sports – he played defensive guard and offensive tackle in high school and was offered a football scholarship to Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri.
Bill Hader As Andy Warhol
When Men In Black III came out in 2012 Bill Hader was still known as the funny guy from Saturday Night Live. It’s hard to steal a scene from someone as charismatic as Will Smith but it’s hard to argue that Hader didn’t step up to the challenge. We don’t want to ruin what happens in the movie (there’s a twist) but even for people who aren’t big fans of Men in Black series Bill Hader makes viewing worth it.
Jennifer Lopez as Selena Quintanilla
Jennifer Lopez stars as the unofficial Queen of Tejano music, aka Selena Quintanilla-Pérez. Remembered as one of the most celebrated Mexican-American artists of the 20th century, Billboard magazine ranked her as the highest selling Latin artist of the 1990s. Sadly, she died young, but one look at Lopez in full costume and make up could possibly make a true fan believe she had just been in hiding. It’s a worthwhile watch, and was critically acclaimed and a box office success.
Steve Carell As John Du Pont
When word reached the masses that Steve Carrell was going to play in the biopic drama Foxcatcher there was a certain level of, shall we say, confusion. Before then Steve Carrell was known for his roles as the hilarious Michael Scott in The Office and as the main character in Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year Old Virgin. There was a little prosthetic work on the nose involved, but at the end of the day Carrell made the full dramatic transformation.
Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg
When making a historical recounting of the founding of one of the largest and most influential websites in the world it’s safe to say you need a strong lead. Thankfully, Jesse Eisenberg stepped up to the plate to play billionaire and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg starring next to Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake. Eisenberg’s work earned him critical acclaim and the film itself was named the best film of the year by a grand total of 76 professional film critics.
Chadwick Boseman as James Brown
Being under the heat of the Hollywood spotlight can mean that the pressure is on. When Chadwick Boseman was offered the role of James Brown in Get On Up he initially said he wasn’t interested. Not because it wasn’t a great opportunity, according to Boseman it was going to be a big task to match the Godfather of Soul’s moves and appearance. Boseman’s success in the film is a testament to his courage and hard work bringing Brown to life.
Nicole Kidman As Virginia Woolf
People who haven’t seen the psychological drama film The Hours are definitely missing out. Not only does it have an ensemble cast which includes names like Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and John C. Riley, but it also stars Nicole Kidman who plays the lead role of Virginia Woolf. Unsurprisingly, with a cast this strong, the film was a huge success both commercially and critically and resulted in nine Academy Award nominations and a win for Best Actress for Nicole Kidman.
Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens
When Claire Tomalin, author of the biographical novel The Invisible Woman: The story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens, first met Ralph Fiennes she was struck: “I had met Fiennes once before and found him charming, funny and modest.” “Now I was struck by his physical resemblance to Dickens.” “You were born to play Dickens,” I told him – but his plan was to direct.” In the end, Tomalin got her way, Fiennes agreed to play English Victorian author Charles Dickens.
Stephen Fry As Oscar Wilde
Based on the 1987 Pulitzer Prize winning biography about Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, the film Wilde stars Stephen Fry as none other than the famous writer. Critics and fans were stunned at the striking similarity between actor and icon, and according to the New York Times, “Playing the large dandyish writer with obvious gusto, Stephen Fry looks uncannily like Wilde and presents an edgy mixture of superciliousness and vulnerability…Fry’s warmly sympathetic performance finds the gentleness beneath the wit.”
Jared Leto As Mark David Chapman
The film Chapter 27 is a 2007 historical drama about the murder of famous musician John Lennon by Mark David Chapman. Jared Leto stars as Chapman, and takes on the arduous task of displaying the mental condition of Mark David Chapman leading up to his murder of the Beatles’ musician. According to an interview with the NY Daily News, Leto gained a whopping 60 pounds in order to play the role of Chapman. A difficult task which none-the-less paid off.
Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel
Coco Before Chanel, or Coco Avant Chanel, is a French biographical film about French designer and businesswoman Coco Chanel who started the fashion company after her own name. Considered one of the most important fashion designers and cultural icons of the 20th century, the task of portraying her was left to French actress Audrey Tautou. Tautou is recognisable to American audiences from her work in Amelie and The Da Vinci Code, and her talent is on display once again here.
Ben Kingsley As Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Gandhi is a 1982 historical drama starring Ben Kingsley as India’s non-violent leader of the resistance against the British Empire. The film begins in 1893, when Gandhi is thrown off a train in South Africa for being in a whites only compartment on a train, continues through the early 20th century when he leads protests against the British and culminates in his assassination in 1948. The film was so acclaimed it was nominated for a total of eleven Academy Awards.