25 Actors Who Won Best Actor Oscars For Playing Real Life Characters

Getting the Academy award is the ultimate honour for any actor’s performance. Over its course of 87 years, the Academy has handed over the Best Actor Oscars to 78 actors, with some winning it more than once. Out of them, 25 people won it for playing real life characters. So, today let us take a look at the 25 actors who won Best Actor Oscars for playing real life characters.

 

25 Best Actor Oscars For Playing Real Life Characters

25.   Eddie Redmayne

Played: Stephen Hawking
Film: The Theory of Everything (2014)

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The latest to join this club is English actor Eddie Redmayne who portrayed English physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking in the 2014 film ‘The Theory of Everything’ and won the Oscar at the 87th Academy Awards. The film depicted Stephen’s relationship with his ex-wife, his diagnosis of his motor neurone disease and his success in the field of physics.

24. Matthew McConaughey

Played: Ron Woodroof
Film: Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

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American actor Matthew McConaughey won the Oscar at the 86th Academy Awards for his portrayal of Ron Woodroof in the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club. The film revolved around Ron, a person who was diagnosed with HIV AIDS in the 1980s, at a time when there was little knowledge about the disease, and how he struggled to get treatments by using and distributing drugs among fellow patients.

23. Daniel Day-Lewis

Played: Abraham Lincoln
Film: Lincoln (2012)

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English actor Daniel Day-Lewis created history when he became the first three time winning Best Actor person in the world when he won the Oscar at the 85th Academy Award for his portrayal of the 16th President of USA, Abraham Lincoln, in the 2012 film ‘Lincoln’. The film focussed on the final four years of the president’s life.

22. Colin Firth

Played: King George VI
Film: The King’s Speech (2010)

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English actor Colin Firth won the Oscar at the 83rd Academy Awards for his portrayal of George VI, King of United Kingdom, in the 2010 film ‘The King’s Speech’. It dealt with the King’s overcoming with his stammering.

21. Sean Penn

Played: Harvey Milk
Film: Milk (2008)

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American actor Sean Penn won the Oscar at the 81st Academy Awards for playing American politician Harvey Milk. The film dealt with Milk’s journey in becoming the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California.

20. Forest Whitaker

Played: Idi Amin
Film: The Last King of Scotland (2006)

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American actor Forest Whitaker won the Oscar at the 79th Academy Awards for portraying the third President of Uganda, Idi Amin. The film told a fictional story of a young Scottish doctor who becomes the physician of Amin.

19. Philip Seymour Hoffman

Played: Truman Capote
Film: Capote (2005)

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At the 78th Academy Awards, American Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Oscar for portraying American author, screenwriter, playwright, and actor Truman Capote in the 2005 film ‘Capote’. The film revolved around his life journey.

18. Jamie Foxx

Played: Ray Charles
Film: Ray (2004)

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American actor Jamie Foxx won the Oscar at the 77th Academy Awards for playing singer, songwriter, musician and composer Ray Charles in the 2004 film ‘Ray’. The film covered 30 years of Ray’s life.

17. Adrien Brody

Played: Wladyslaw Szpilman
Film: The Pianist (2002)

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History was created at the 75th Academy Awards, when American actor Adrien Brody became the youngest actor to win Best Actor award at the age 0f 29, for his portrayal of Polish pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman in the 2002 film ‘The Pianist’, which was based on the World War II memoir of the composer.

16. Geoffrey Rush

Played: David Helfgott
Film: Shine (1996)

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At the 69th Academy Awards, Australian actor Geoffrey Rush won the Oscar for playing Australian concert pianist David Helfgott, in the 1996 film ‘Shine’. The film told the story of his life, including his mental breakdowns to him spending time in institutions.

15. Jeremy Irons

Played: Claus von Bulow
Film: Reversal of Fortune (1990)

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English actor Jeremy Irons won the Oscar at the 63rd Academy Awards for portraying British socialite Claus von Bulow in the 1990 film ‘Reversal of Fortune’. The film told the story of Bulow’s intriguing life.

14. Daniel Day-Lewis

Played: Christy Brown
Film: My Left Foot (1989)

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English actor Daniel Day-Lewis is the only actor on this list who appears twice. At the 62nd Academy Award, he won the Oscar for playing Irish writer and painter Christy Brown, in the 1989 film ‘My Left Foot’. The film told the inspirational story of the painter who suffered from cerebral palsy and made masterpieces with his left foot.

13. F. Murray Abraham

Played: Antonio Salieri
Film: Amadeus (1984)

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American actor F. Murray Abraham won the Oscar at the 57th Academy Awards for his portrayal of Italian composer, conductor and teacher Antonio Salieri, in the 1984 film ‘Amadeus’. The film gives an account on the composer’s life.

12. Ben Kingsley

Played: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Film: Gandhi (1982)

At the 55th Academy Awards, English actor Ben Kingley won the Oscar for his portrayal of Indian leader during the independence movement, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The film told the story of how Gandhi led the non-violent movement against the British rule to free India.

11.Robert De Niro

Played: Jake LaMotta
Film: Raging Bull (1980)

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American actor Robert De Niro won the Oscar at the 53rd Academy Award for portraying American boxer Jake LaMotta, in the 1980 film ‘Raging Bull’. The film depicted Jake’s self-destructive anger and envious nature which destroyed his personal relationships.

10. George C. Scott

Played: General George S. Patton, Jr.
Film: Patton (1970)

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American actor won the Oscar at the 43rd Academy Awards for his portrayal of US Army General George S. Patton, Jr. in the 1970 film ‘Patton’. The film focussed on the role taken up by Patton during the second World War, specially his leadership of the Third US Army in France and Germany following the  following the Allied Invasion of Normandy.

9. Paul Scofield

Played: Sir Thomas More
Film: A Man For All Seasons (1966)

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At the 39th Academy Awards, English actor Paul Scofield won the Oscar for playing English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and Renaissance humanist Sir Thomas More, in the 1966 film, ‘A Man For All Seasons’. The film was a biographical tale of the legendary figure’s life.

8. Yul Brynner

Played: King Mongkut of Siam
Film: The King And I (1956)

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Russian-American actor Yul Brynner won the Oscar for his portrayal of the 4th monarch of Siam, King Mongkut, in the 1956 film ‘The King And I’. The film revolved around his life, who was considered to be one of the most respected monarchs of the country.

7. Jose Ferrer

Played: Cyrano de Bergerac
Film: Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

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At the 26th Academy Awards, Puerto Rican actor Jose Ferrer won the Oscar for portraying French novelist, playwright, epistolarian and duelist Cyrano de Bergerac in the 1950 film ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’. The film gives an account of the novelist’s life.

6.James Cagney

Played: George M. Cohan
Film: Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

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American actor James Cagney won the Oscar at the 15th Academy Awards for his portrayal of American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer and producer George M. Cohan in the 1942 film ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’. The film was a biographical account of the entertainer’s life.

5.Gary Cooper

Played: Sgt. Alvin C. York
Film: Sergeant York (1941)

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American actor Gary Cooper won the Oscar at the 14th Academy Awards for his portrayal of American soldier Sgt. Alvin C. York in the 1941 film ‘Sergeant York’. The film told the story of York, who was one of the most decorated soldiers during the 1st World War.

4. Spencer Tracy

Played: Father Flanagan
Film: Boys Town (1938)

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At the 11th Academy Awards, American actor Spencer Tracy won the Oscar for playing the role of Irish born priest of a catholic church in USA, Father Flanagan, in the 1938 film ‘Boys Town’. The film revolved around the Father’s work with underprivileged boys in a home he founded, which was known as Boys Town.

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3. Paul Muni

Played: Louis Pasteur
Film: The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)

At the 10th Academy Awards, American actor Paul Muni won the Oscar by playing French chemist and micro-biologist Louis Pasteur, in the 1936 film ‘The Story of Louis Pasteur’. The film focussed on the legend’s work, which made advancement in agriculture and medicine.

2. Charles Laughton

Played: King Henry VIII of England
Film: The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)

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At the 6th Academy Awards, English actor Charles Laughton won the Oscar for playing King Henry VIII of England, in the 1933 film ‘The Private Life of Henry VIII’. The film revolves around the marriages of the king.

1.1. George Arliss

Played: Benjamin Disraeli
Film: Disraeli (1929)

At the 3rd Academy Awards, English actor George Arliss created history when he became the first actor to win an Oscar for Best Actor for portraying a real life character. George played the role of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in the 1929 film ‘Disraeli’. The film revolved around the plan to buy Suez Canal by the British and the attempts of two spies to stop it.