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Famous People Playing Other Famous People At TIFF 2019

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The biopic has been reliable film fodder since the invention of the medium (see: Joan of Arc, 1900) so it’s unsurprising that this year’s TIFF slate is packed with them. The phrase ‘based on a true story’ never fails to lure in curious moviegoers and the fun of seeing a contemporary celebrity play a famous person from the past never fails to entertain (see: Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury).

Read on to find out who’ll play who when the Festival kicks off this September.


Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers

BYO Kleenex box, Hanks is taking on the role of children’s television icon Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. The film, from director Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) pits Rogers, the unfailingly gentle ambassador of kindness, against a cynical journalist assigned to do a profile on a man he deems sappy and irrelevant. We’re betting he changes his tune.


Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie

Graphic novelist and director Marjane Satrapi’s fifth film, Radioactive, is another adaptation of a graphic novel, one centered on Nobel Prize winner Curie (penned by Lauren Redniss). The physics and chemistry genius was not only a pioneer in her field, but also a groundbreaker for women in the world of science and beyond. Sam Riley plays her husband and collaborator, Pierre Curie.


Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman

TIFF devotees will have seen Erivo at last year’s Festival in Steve McQueen’s action flick, Widows. This year, she tackles a more serious role, portraying abolitionist Harriet Tubman in Harriet.


Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore

Murphy takes audiences back to the ’70s for a look at the life of Blaxploitation legend Rudy Ray Moore (aka Dolemite). In Dolemite Is My Name, director Craig Brewer captures the meteoric (albeit belated) rise of Moore as a comic and movie star. Oscar-winning Black Panther costume designer Ruth Carter also brings her unmatched talent to the project.


Renee Zellwegger as Judy Garland

In Judy, Zellwegger arrives on screen at the end of Judy Garland’s rainbow, playing the performer in the final, dramatic year of her tumultuous life. The young star who seemed to have everything has, at this point, lost it all and is trying to hang on to the scraps. Her saving grace, however, is the stage and that’s where Zellwegger brings the role to life.


Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Helen Reddy

I Am Woman opens this year’s Festival with the story of the female force behind the iconic song. Told by director Unjoo Moon, the film focuses on Reddy and her long road to Californian success as the ’60s-era Australian feminist behind the roaring 1971 women’s movement anthem “I Am Woman.”


Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson

Set in 1980’s Alabama, Just Mercy turns its steady gaze on the issue of prisoner’s rights — a topic remains acutely relevant today. Jordan plays IRL lawyer Bryan Stevenson, who dedicates his career to uncovering the difficult truths that the police, judicial, and prison systems so easily set aside when an easy answer or an easy conviction are available.


Matt Damon and Christian Bale as Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles

Who better to make a movie about superhuman endurance than Logan director James Mangold? In Ford v Ferrari Damon and Bale play a pair of famous real-life race car drivers whose career trajectories bring them together for the ultimate test of behind-the-wheel performance. Do they win? Let’s just say that Shelby has a Ford Mustang model named after him.


Eddie Redmayne as James Glaisher

Meteorologist James Glaisher dreamed of flying higher than anyone ever had before — in a hot air balloon, no less. (To be fair, it was 1862.) With Redmayne in the lead role, Glaisher’s story is retold with a dash of artistic licence that sees Felicity Jones cast as his fictional co-pilot in director Tom Harper’s The Aeronauts.

TIFF 2019 takes place between September 5–15 in Toronto. Tickets go on sale to the public September 2 and can be purchased online here.

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