Period pieces can be an absolute blast when you’re in the mood for a trip back in time. But let’s be honest, it’s even more exhilarating when filmmakers weave actual historical figures into completely fantastical movies. There’s a certain enchantment that comes with it, adding a touch of magic to the entire experience. It’s like witnessing the real world colliding with fiction, creating a captivating blend of authenticity and imagination. Remember how Nikola Tesla made a surprise appearance in The Prestige? It was mind-blowing!
On the flip side, this fusion of fact and fiction can also result in outrageously made-up stories. Take, for example, the extraordinary tale of Abraham Lincoln battling vampires in, well, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It’s completely bonkers but undeniably entertaining!
Then we have films like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Midnight in Paris, where historical figures are scattered everywhere like confetti. They’re practically popping up left, right, and center, making it feel like they’re a dime a dozen. But regardless of the abundance, it’s impossible not to relish in the joy of witnessing these extraordinary individuals stepping into the realm of make-believe. It’s like stepping into a time-traveling rollercoaster!
And guess what? We have a new addition to this intriguing mix: Barbie. Yes, you heard it right! Brace yourself for a whirlwind of historical adventure as Barbie embarks on her own extraordinary journey through time. Get ready for a wild ride full of surprises and unexpected encounters with famous figures from the past. It’s going to be a truly marvelous escapade!
So, buckle up and get ready to be transported to a world where history meets fantasy, where real people intertwine with imaginary tales. It’s a thrilling combination that promises endless excitement and boundless entertainment. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure!
1. Nikola Tesla In ‘The Prestige’
The historical figure we’re talking about is an inventive electrical engineer and futurist who played a crucial role in the development of modern electricity. This person was known for their immense dedication to work, claiming to sleep only two hours a night. They had numerous ambitious ideas, such as wireless energy and “thought cameras.” As we enter the 21st century, their legacy has continued to grow, and you’ve probably heard of the electric car manufacturer named after them.
In the movie “The Prestige,” the iconic David Bowie portrays Tesla. In this film, Tesla is approached by Robert Angier, played by Hugh Jackman, to create a teleportation machine. However, things in this movie are never what they seem, and Tesla accidentally ends up creating a cloning machine instead. When handing over the machine to Angier, Tesla offers some free advice to the obsessed magician, urging him to destroy it completely. He suggests dropping it into the deepest ocean, as possessing such a device would only bring misery.
2. Every Historical Character In ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’
In the 1989 sci-fi/comedy classic Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, a star-studded lineup of historical figures takes the stage. Napoleon Bonaparte, Abraham Lincoln, Billy the Kid, Socrates, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Sigmund Freud all make appearances in this film, making it a true “who’s who” of high school history textbooks.
So, what are these famous figures doing in this movie? Well, thanks to Keanu Reeves’s Ted “Theodore” Logan and Alex Winter’s Bill S. Preston, Esq., they find themselves transported to the year 1988 in San Dimas, CA, courtesy of a time-traveling phone booth. It turns out that Bill and Ted are the key to a future utopia, but only if they can pass their high school history class. Determined to succeed, the two airheaded buddies gather this eclectic group of historical icons to aid them in their quest for academic triumph. Needless to say, there’s plenty of hootin’ and hollerin’ along the way.
3. Frida Kahlo In ‘Coco’
Frida Kahlo, the renowned Mexican painter, is widely recognized as an artistic icon. Her life was filled with tragedies and challenges, from battling polio to enduring a devastating bus accident that confined her to a wheelchair. Despite being relatively unknown during her lifetime, Kahlo’s fame has soared since her death in 1954. Her exceptional self-portraits have solidified her reputation as a master of her craft, and her influence continues to grow year after year.
In the 2017 film Coco, which celebrates Mexican culture and is suitable for families, Frida Kahlo plays a significant role. As the main character, Miguel, finds himself trapped in the Land of the Dead, it is only fitting that the esteemed Kahlo not only appears in the movie but also aids him. She inspires Miguel to pursue his artistic dreams and assists his family in their mission to locate Héctor’s photograph and preserve his memory.
4. Blackbeard In ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’
Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard, was a notorious pirate who operated in the West Indies during the early 1700s. Although his pirating career was short-lived due to the inherent dangers of the profession, his legend has grown significantly over the centuries. Blackbeard had a larger-than-life personality and enjoyed embracing the theatrics of being a pirate, often exaggerating his menacing persona.
In the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the character of Blackbeard is loosely based on the historical figure. Ian McShane, the actor portraying Blackbeard, seems to be thoroughly enjoying his role as the film’s antagonist. The movie’s magical elements, characteristic of Disney’s franchise, find their way into McShane’s portrayal. It is highly unlikely that the real Blackbeard possessed a sword with the power to animate his ship and attack his enemies. If he had such a weapon, it is reasonable to assume that his lifespan as a pirate would have been significantly prolonged.
5. Leonardo da Vinci In ‘Ever After’
The historical figure we’re talking about here is none other than Leonardo da Vinci. He’s the genius behind masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Not to mention, he also sketched the famous Vitruvian Man. Leonardo was more than just an artist though – he was also a renowned anatomist and engineer. I mean, come on, his name is practically synonymous with greatness. I’m sure you’ve heard of him at some point in your life.
Now, let’s talk about what he’s doing in this movie, Ever After. This 1998 film is a retelling of the classic Cinderella story, but with a twist. It’s set in 1500s France, and Leonardo da Vinci makes appearances as the court’s resident artist. In this portrayal, he’s played by the talented Patrick Godfrey, who presents Leonardo as an older gentleman. It’s an interesting little quirk of the film that they actually use one of his real paintings, La Scapigliata, to depict Drew Barrymore’s character, Danielle de Barbarac. She’s the film’s version of Cinderella, if you will.
6. Andy Warhol In ‘Men in Black 3’
Andy Warhol is widely recognized as one of the most prominent American artists during the 1960s. His name has become synonymous with the pop art movement, as he dabbled in various artistic mediums, including painting and filmmaking. Today, his works are highly sought-after and can fetch millions of dollars in the art collecting world.
In the movie Men in Black 3, Warhol’s unique personality and eccentricity are portrayed. The film depicts him as an undercover agent for the MiB, which adds an interesting twist to his already unconventional character. According to the storyline, Warhol’s entire persona was an act, and he longed to escape his undercover role and return to the MiB headquarters. Bill Hader’s portrayal of Warhol is particularly convincing, thanks to the use of facial prosthetics that enhance his resemblance to the artist.
7. H.G. Wells And Jack The Ripper In ‘Time After Time’
H.G. Wells, a renowned science fiction author of the 19th century, is responsible for crafting some of the most well-known novels of his time. From his imaginative mind sprung forth timeless classics such as The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, and The Island of Doctor Moreau.
During the late 1880s in London, a notorious unidentified serial killer emerged, known as Jack the Ripper. Despite the passage of over a century, the true identity of this legendary figure remains shrouded in mystery and will likely remain so. However, the media and fan obsession surrounding Jack the Ripper has not diminished.
In a remarkable display of creativity by a major film distributor, Time After Time presents a fictionalized version of H.G. Wells utilizing the actual time machine from his novel, The Time Machine, to pursue Jack the Ripper into the year 1979 in San Francisco. This unique concept, based on the novel of the same name by Karl Alexander, brings together two iconic figures from the late 1800s in a collision of pop culture titans.
8. Elvis Presley In ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’
The Historical Figure: Oh, you know… it’s just Elvis freaking Presley. The “King of Rock and Roll?” The guy is only a musical superstar, Hollywood icon, and one of the most unstoppable sex symbols in the history of American popular culture (before he really let himself go and started wearing bejeweled jumpsuits, that is).
What Is He Doing In This Movie? How does one describe cult hit Bubba Ho-Tep? Well, this 2002 horror-comedy sees the real Elvis living out the rest of his days in a retirement home after having switched places with an impersonator back in the 1970s. So far, so normal (kind of).
Bruce Campbell’s Elvis spends the film teamed with his best friend – a Black man who claims to be John F. Kennedy with his skin dyed – as they fight an Egyptian mummy named “Bubba Ho-Tep.” It is as ridiculous as it sounds, and that is only a good thing.
9. Albert Einstein And His Buddies In ‘I.Q.’
The Historical Figures: Kurt Gödel and Boris Podolsky, while respected in their own right, do not have the same lasting scientific impact as Albert Einstein. Almost everyone knows the name Einstein, thanks to his famous equation “E = mc2.” His name has become synonymous with genius.
What Are They Doing In This Movie? In the 1994 romantic comedy I.Q., Einstein and his scientist friends come up with a plan to make his niece, Catherine, fall in love with a garage mechanic named Ed. It’s a silly and contrived film, and it’s worth noting that Einstein did not actually have a niece named Catherine. However, the movie does give Walter Matthau a chance to shine as Einstein and provides a lighthearted and enjoyable experience if you’re in the mood for a relaxed adventure.
10. H.G. Wells And Jack The Ripper In ‘Time After Time’