Which Oscar Nominee Looks the Most Like the Real Person They Portray?

8:00 AM 2/8/2016

by Anna Lisa Raya

A THR ranking of how closely this year's nominated actors resemble their real-life inspirations — from Mark Rylance’s uncanny likeness to a Cold War Russian spy and Leo’s bearded Hugh Glass glory to Jennifer Lawrence’s not-so-believable turn as a 40-something.

Jeff Spicer/Getty Images; Open Road Films

  1. 1

    Mark Rylance

    Rudolf Abel played by Mark Rylance ('Bridge of Spies')

    Ullstein bild/Ullstein bild via Getty Images; DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox Film

    Both director Steven Spielberg and co-star Tom Hanks had wanted to work with the supporting actor nominee since seeing him onstage in Twelfth Night more than a decade ago. Not only did the Brit have the chops to play the stoic Russian spy at the heart of Spies, but he also bears an uncanny resemblance to Abel.

  2. 2

    Mark Ruffalo

    Mike Rezendes played by Mark Ruffalo ('Spotlight')

    Jeff Spicer/Getty Images; Open Road Films

    Ruffalo not only toured Boston with The Boston Globe reporter but also shadowed him on the job — "I watched him work the phones, I watched him write his stories," says the supporting actor nominee — and nailed his characterization to the point where even Rezendes' Boston Globe colleagues were amazed.

  3. 3

    Leonardo DiCaprio

    Hugh Glass played by Leonardo DiCaprio ('The Revenant')

    Courtesy of Bruce Bradley; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

    DiCaprio was intrigued by fur trapper Glass' period in American history, which he has described as "more wild than what we think of as 'the wild, wild West.' " The physical challenges of the role for the lead actor nominee included trudging in frigid temperatures in an authentic grizzly skin that weighed 100 pounds when wet.

  4. 4

    Alicia Vikander

    Gerda Wegener played by Alicia Vikander ('The Danish Girl')

    Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images; Agatha A. Nitecka/Focus Features

    To convincingly portray the portrait artist, Vikander had to capture Wegener's demure look — and learn how to draw and paint. "Artists took me under their wing, and I was given exercises with charcoal," the supporting actress nominee has said, adding that movies allow you to "try things you would normally never do."

  5. 5

    Rachel McAdams

    Sacha Pfeiffer played by Rachel McAdams ('Spotlight')

    Desiree Navarro/WireImage/Getty Images; Courtesy of Open Road Films

    Supporting actress nominee McAdams grilled The Boston Globe reporter for details about her months of investigating the Boston Archdiocese child abuse scandal. Says Pfeiffer, "She wanted to know: 'What did I wear in 2001? What did I eat? Did I eat dinner with my husband? Did I wear jewelry? How did I take notes?' "

  6. 6

    Michael Fassbender

    Steve Jobs played by Michael Fassbender ('Steve Jobs')

    Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images; Courtesy of Universal Pictures

    Director Danny Boyle has praised his lead actor's ability to completely absorb the role of the Apple founder, to the point where he never saw Fassbender on set with a script. "I always thought there was something very Jobs-ian in Michael," Boyle has said. "Incredible intensity about the application of what he's doing."

  7. 7

    Christian Bale

    Michael Burry played by Christian Bale ('The Big Short')

    Tony Avelar/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Paramount Pictures/Photofest

    The actor and the hedge fund manager first met and bonded over a nine-hour getting-to-know-you session. Supporting actor nominee Bale, known for staying in character on- and off-set, asked Burry to send him some of his own clothes, and wore sandals similar to Burry's (or walked barefoot) in his onscreen office.

  8. 8

    Eddie Redmayne

    Lili Elbe played by Eddie Redmayne ('The Danish Girl')

    Welcome Images/ Creative Commons; Courtesy of Focus Features

    Redmayne’s physical transformation into Stephen Hawking won him a 2015 Oscar, but the lead actor nominee — who calls fear of a role "a galvanizing thing" — still was intimidated about taking on painter Einar Wegener, who in the 1920s became one of the first people to undergo gender-reassignment surgery.

  9. 9

    Jennifer Lawrence

    Joy Mangano loosely played by Jennifer Lawrence ('Joy')

    Craig Barritt/Getty Images; Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox

    Playing a character inspired by the woman who invented the Miracle Mop was a task Lawrence has described as "personal Everest." The lead actress nominee had to age from a teenager to a less believable 40-something. "It was one of the hardest parts I've ever played," she has said.

  10. 10

    Bryan Cranston

    Dalton Trumbo played by Bryan Cranston ('Trumbo')

    AP Photo; Courtesy of Bleecker Street Media

    Cranston resembles Trumbo about as much as he does Lyndon B. Johnson (whom he once played on Broadway), but the Breaking Bad star and lead actor nominee got a piece of the blacklisted screenwriter in other ways. "He captures Trumbo’s fire," says director Jay Roach.

  11. 11

    Kate Winslet

    Joanna Hoffman played by Kate Winslet ('Steve Jobs')

    Norman Seeff; Universal Pictures

    Realizing she looks nothing like the real Hoffman, supporting actress nominee Winslet donned a dark-haired wig, snapped a pic of herself and sent it to producer Scott Rudin in an attempt to be considered for the role. She still didn't look like her but got the role anyway.

  12. 12

    Tom Hardy

    John Fitzgerald played by Tom Hardy ('The Revenant')

    Interim Archives/Getty Images; Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox

    Capturing the role of the traitorous Fitzgerald (of whom no known historical images exist) took "finesse," director Alejandro G. Inarritu has said of supporting actor nominee Hardy. "He is so handsome, so well built, so powerful and strong, but at the same time can be extremely fragile, and that is what makes him unique."