We all know that lots of movie stars just make movies about themselves: Nearly every Woody Allen character is a neurotic writer with an uncomfortably young love interest, Tim Burton exclusively tells stories about pale outcasts with disheveled mops of disgusting hair, and Ryan Reynolds pretty much is Deadpool at this point.
It's way more impressive when filmmakers manage to turn their lives into famous films and no one even realizes it -- including, in some cases, themselves. Whether intentionally or not, a lot of movies are secretly telling autobiographical stories, like group therapy where the rest of the group pays 15 bucks to get in. For instance ...
George Lucas' second feature film, American Graffiti, is about a bunch of 1950s teenagers cruising around in their cars all night and listening to Chuck Berry; it was basically like if someone today made a movie about how amazing it was to get high and play GoldenEye for nine hours straight. Well, Lucas' most famous contribution to pop culture, Star Wars, was similarly all about his own youth. For starters, he very unsubtly named the hero Luke. As in Lucas. Also, in his yearbook picture he's clearly practicing the Jedi mind trick:
via Anita's Notebook
Both Luke and Lucas were motorized-vehicle-loving teens who dreamed of something more, and both had dads who got in the way of that. While he wasn't exactly Darth Vader, George Lucas Sr. was the head of a stationery store, a business he had built up for George to take over -- because together they could rule Modesto, California, as father and son. George had other plans, though. As a young man, George rejected his father's dark path of selling birthday cards and scotch tape, saying: "I'll never work at a job where I have to do the same thing over and over again every day." Which sounds a hell of a lot like "I'll never join you."
This was no small incident, either. Lucas claimed that this was the biggest disagreement the two ever had, and his refusal to take up his father's mantle left his dad "devastated." While he doesn't get into specifics, when asked about how much of this story played into Star Wars, George stated: "No matter how you write, you write from your own emotions and your own feelings." This explains why the theme of a son rejecting his father's path runs throughout the original trilogy, before Lucas' emotions and feelings died sometime in the mid '90s.
Which brings us to another eerie similarity: Later in life, both Luke and Lucas became bearded outcasts moping over how they'd seriously fucked up their life's work.
Lucasfilm, Ethan Miller/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
World War Z is that movie where Brad Pitt is harassed by a mass of hideous, existentially terrifying CGI blobs. But Pitt wasn't just the star; he was also a producer who helped to guide this mess of a film through its troubled production. And it shows. As pointed out by Entertainment Weekly, World War Z ended up telling the story of what it's like to be Brad Pitt. (Spoilers: It sucks, apparently.)
Like Pitt, the main character is a family man with a beautiful wife and kids. Also, this may be a stretch, but that pendant around his wife's neck could totally be full of blood.
Their idyllic family life is interrupted when they try to leave the house and are immediately swarmed by a horde of bloodthirsty, yet PG-13 safe, zombies. This is the kind of shit the Pitts have to deal with every day -- every time they want to pop out to Starbucks, they draw crowds. In other words, the zombies are us, the fans. Yes, Brad Pitt thinks you're ugly.
Pitt's character has a vague U.N. job that essentially involves traveling the world and looking handsome in exotic locations ... which, let's face it, is pretty much his job in real life. Along the way, Pitt and his family meet a non-white kid whose family is killed during this war, so naturally they take him with them. Do we have to spell this one out?
In the end, Pitt saves the day by injecting himself with a disease, tricking the zombies into leaving him the fuck alone. The key here is he does it while the others watch through screens to see if it works. It's like Pitt is telling us that standing in front of a camera and suffering is a more important job than everyone thinks -- movies can save the world!
Then, immediately after besting the zombies, Pitt downs some Pepsi, clearly a metaphor for ... oh, actually, they probably just had to whore themselves to the soda industry after wasting a shit-ton of money on that elaborate ending they threw in the garbage.
Open Road Films
Jon Favreau, who directed the first two Iron Man movies, has been pretty tactful in discussing why he quit making Marvel films. He's characterized the experience as "more like a graduation than a divorce" ... which, come to think of it, might be an even more incendiary comment, because who doesn't graduate thinking that school is total bullshit?
Favreau did tell us how he really feels, though, using the magic of allegory -- his movie Chef is basically like Animal Farm, only instead of commenting on the Russian Revolution, he's secretly telling Marvel to go fuck themselves.
Open Road Films
With Chef, Favreau returned to smaller-scale filmmaking: Instead of the Marvel cinematic universe, Chef takes place inside the recesses of Favreau's brain, where he's constantly hooking up with gorgeous actresses. Did we mention he wrote the screenplay himself?
Open Road Films
Favreau plays the head chef of a swanky restaurant who's asked by the owner to put his creative ideas to the side and just serve the same old bullshit. Not surprisingly, this leads to the chef being bitched out by a critic. It's a blatant metaphor for the studio interfering in the poorly received Iron Man 2 -- although instead of mediocre restaurant food, a steaming bag of goat urine right in the face might have been a slightly more accurate metaphor. And in case all of this is too subtle for you, halfway through the movie, Iron Man himself shows up.
Open Road Films
Favreau ends up going out on his own, serving delicious grub from an old food truck, with no corporate interference. You know, no marvelous corporate interference. The truck is a metaphor for this movie, is our point. In the end, the success of the food truck leads him back to critical acclaim and financial success ... which is a pretty ballsy move, considering that he's essentially predicting how everyone's going to love his new movie in the middle of the goddamn movie. Unless he was talking about that other post-Iron Man film of his?
The Prestige is an underrated Christopher Nolan mind-bender about two old-timey magicians (Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman) who hate each other's guts.
Meanwhile, what does Nolan himself hate more than anything? Fucking CGI. Throughout his career, Nolan has gone out of his way to utilize practical effects: From the rotating hallway in Inception to building a wormhole set for Interstellar. He even built an actual Bat-plane for The Dark Knight Rises, when most anyone else would have gotten a thousand computer majors in a dank, windowless room to whip one up in an afternoon.
Though it's based on a book, The Prestige is clearly Nolan telling us the story of his own work ethic. The movie (SPOILERS from here on out, by the way) finds the two illusionists trying to best each other's version of a trick where they seem to magically teleport from one side of the stage to the other. The jerkier of the two magicians, played by Jackman, can't figure out how to top Bale's amazing version of the trick. He ends up turning to a distractingly David Bowie-looking Nikola Tesla, who uses science to build an insane teleportation machine.
Well, it turns out the machine isn't a teleporter but a duplicator, because apparently Tesla was a big Calvin And Hobbes fan. So, every time Jackman does a show, he creates a duplicate of himself that he then has to murder -- because, in Nolan's eyes, turning to technology is cheating, and is literally killing the artist.
Meanwhile, how did Bale do his version of the trick? Through pure hard work: He has a secret twin brother, and they've each sacrificed half their lives for their art. Incidentally, this movie was written by Nolan and his brother.
Eventually, the surviving twin murders the last Jackman, because practical effects may be more work but will win out over computers -- so people who drive a Tesla might want to check that they don't have any asphyxiated doubles in the trunk of their car.
It's no secret that Stephen King has wrestled with addiction in his past -- if you don't believe us, simply look at any 15 seconds from his coke-fueled directorial debut, Maximum Overdrive. It's the cinematic equivalent of watching a monster truck rally inside Scarface's nostril. The trailer unintentionally serves as the most effective anti-drug PSA ever:
We also know that King puts a lot of himself into his work, using author surrogates like Jack Torrance in The Shining, or sometimes literally putting himself into his work. So it's pretty clear that his classic novel (turned Rob Reiner movie) Misery is at least semi-autobiographical. At first glance, it seems like Misery's story of an author held hostage by a crazed fan is King's less-than-subtle "fuck you" to his readers, but in recent years, King has put forward a different interpretation: The evil Annie Wilkes is a metaphor for cocaine.
The story follows King stand-in Paul Sheldon getting into a car accident and being "rescued" by Annie. Right off the bat she force-feeds him painkillers, which keeps him trapped in a perpetual drugged-out haze, like a common Kinko's employee. Annie continually tells Paul she's his number one fan, but is holding him prisoner and abusing him. Similarly, cocaine keeps you a prisoner of addiction and abuses your body while also telling it how amazing you are, and that you should really quit your day job to focus on DJing full-time.
Annie also doesn't want Paul to kill the Misery character in his books, because evolving as an artist means not relying on coke all the goddamn time. Of course, Misery became even more autobiographical when the setup to the story actually happened to King years later, though thankfully his popularity had decayed enough by then that whoever rescued him wasn't a homicidally obsessed fan.
Essentially the post-apocalyptic Mario Kart movie you never realized you needed in your life, Mad Max: Fury Road became an instant classic last year (even despite its blatant lack of a kickass Tina Turner power ballad). But what's it all about? Well, sit back and get ready to frantically spray chrome all over your mouth -- Mad Max: Fury Road is an allegory for the making of Mad Max: Fury Road.
Seriously, Max is a stand-in for director George Miller. When the movie starts, Max is haunted by flashbacks and soon finds himself fleeing from his captors, Immortan Joe's army. They represent Miller's past: the Mad Max movies themselves. This point is underscored by casting the Immortan Joe role with the same dude who played the villain in the very first Mad Max, back in 1979.
Max is then enlisted in helping usher Joe's escaped "wives" to safety, one of whom is pregnant. So, suddenly, Max has a family unit of sorts to help look after. Meanwhile, after leaving the Mad Max series behind, Miller got remarried and had two kids. This led to a period of him making mostly family films (Babe, Happy Feet), primarily about adorable animals who never once bother to venture into a desert wasteland populated by gas-guzzling, sadomasochistic marauders.
Max also meets Furiosa, his equal and partner with whom he leads this family. Similarly, ever since Babe, Miller's wife and mother of his kids has edited his projects and helped shape (or steer) the story.
Warner Bros., Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
The end of Max and Furiosa's journey, the mythical Green Place, is representative of retirement or even death, as evidenced by the fact that it's a disappointingly depressing place populated by senior citizens -- basically the Mad Max-verse version of a Boca Raton casino.
Not wanting to spend the rest of their lives playing shuffleboard and helping the elders figure out how to make their cellphones work, Max and Furiosa decide to turn around and head straight back to where they came from. And guess what: Instead of retiring, at age 70, Miller and his wife decided to head back into the world of Mad Max and make another motherfucking movie. According to Miller, "No matter what I did to push it away, it kept coming back."
Max and Furiosa even recruit the old farts to help fight against Immortan Joe -- not unlike how George Miller convinced retired cinematographer John Seale to come out of retirement and shoot the picture.
If they keep staffing the Mad Max movies with seniors, though, in future installments Max will probably mainly get mad at unruly teenagers and long lines at the post office.
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For more times real-life made it into our favorite pop culture, check out 26 Characters You Won't Believe Are Based On Real People and 5 Famous Characters You Didn't Know Are Based On Real People.
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