10 Film Portrayals of Famous Authors

Last week, Tina Fey was awarded the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and over the weekend PBS aired the made-for-TV ceremony. While they might have cut out some of the Sarah Palin digs, they left in a hilarious cameo by Alec Baldwin as Mark Twain. (In case you’re wondering, Baldwin looked and sounded more like Colonel Sanders than Twain.) It got us thinking about previous portrayals of famous writers, particularly in film. After the jump, we examine 10 of our favorite examples and try to determine which actors pulled it off best.

Allen Ginsberg

Left: Allen Ginsberg; Right: James Franco in Howl (2010)

Not only does Franco look a lot like Ginsberg, he has also copped to being a huge fan of his work: “The Beats were very important to me when I started reading literature more seriously in high school. They were some of the first writers that I read and fell in love with.” According to Howl co-director Rob Epstein, they knew Franco was a perfect fit for the role after hearing him read a few lines from Ginsberg’s epic poem: “He blew us away. It was hard for us to imagine anyone being able to embody a young Allen, but James just threw himself into the role and knew what was going on emotionally and intellectually for Ginsberg in every line of the script. He so gets into Allen’s skin. It never feels like impersonation. It feels like a deep, nuanced understanding,” he has said.