Put Some Respeck On My Name: Celebrities Upset By Their Depictions In Biopics
Jada Pinkett Smith doesn’t play when it comes to her very deep bond with the late Tupac Shakur. And that’s why the actress felt it necessary to make her feelings known about the way their friendship was portrayed in the new biopic All Eyez on Me. As she put it, “The reimagining of my relationship to Pac has been deeply hurtful.”
But she’s not the first person to take issue with the way they (or their loved one) are being represented in a project that’s supposed to be a biographical movie. The following people have filed lawsuits, written long statements or just told the truth and shamed the devil in an attempt to clear their names and set the record straight. As you will find, sometimes the drama that follows these movies can often be more entertaining than the biopics themselves.
Perri “Pebbles” Reid
If you didn’t know much about singer and TLC creator Pebbles before CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, you probably walked away feeling like she was quite a shady, money-stealing character. That’s probably why she decided to sue Viacom over her portrayal in the VH1 “docudrama.” She said they “ignored fundamental canons of journalistic and literary conduct by publishing false and defamatory accusations with actual malice.”
Everyone has seen and can likely quote What’s Love Got to Do With It? But when asked what he thought about the Tina Turner biopic, the music legend’s ex-husband said, “I’m real angry about it.”
As for the very graphic depictions of abuse that changed the way people saw him, Ike told the Los Angeles Times in 1993 that they were inaccurate.
“The only time I ever punched Tina with my fist was the last fight we had. I hit her after she kneed me in the chest,” he said. “Prior to that, our fights, or our little slaps, or whatever they were, were all just about attitude. Me and Tina never fought about other women or about her not keeping house or her not taking care of the kids. It was always because she was looking sad and wouldn’t tell me what was wrong with her. She would take that attitude with her on to the stage and that would really depress me. So after the show, I’d end up slapping her or something. But then we’d be OK.”
Even though Sean Combs and Voletta Wallace were producers of the 2009 biopic Notorious, Lil Kim claimed that the biopic’s star, Naturi Naughton, didn’t contact her about portraying her. She also said that the film’s depiction of her was demeaning.
“The film studio and producers involved were more concerned about painting me as a ‘character’ to create a more interesting story line instead of a person with talent, self-respect and who was able to achieve her own career success through hard work,” she said.
If you’ll recall, in 2015, Suge Knight was involved in fatal hit-and-run incident where he ran over a friend with his car. According to TMZ, the reason for that situation was because Knight was upset about his portrayal in the trailer for the N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton. After his friend Terry Carter set up a meeting with Dr. Dre about the use of Knight’s likeness for the film, the former Death Row head never made it to the meeting because he got into it with an actor from the project in the parking lot. He ended up running over both the actor and Carter, killing the latter individual. He’s since been charged with Carter’s murder as well as attempted murder and hit and run.
The ’80s teen star dated singer Johnny Gill in the early stages of his career. In the popular New Edition biopic though, the impression was given that Lattisaw, who is of a much lighter complexion than Gill, was encouraged by her family to stop dating him because he was too dark. Lattisaw said that tidbit of information was “not at all” true and that the truth would be revealed soon enough. But her brother, Gill, was much more upset about what he called a lie on his mother.
“My mom don’t care about what color Johnny Gill is!!! he said. “If it wasn’t for her, he wouldn’t be in New Edition period!!! She basically got him his first record deal …. by the way, Stacy husband is brownskin too!!! How they gon’ put my motha out there like that!”
In 2011, Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard starred in a little-seen biopic about the life of Winnie Mandela, simply titled, Winnie. But the real Winnie Mandela was upset that she wasn’t consulted by the film’s producers, or Hudson, before they went forward with the project.
“I have absolutely nothing against Jennifer [Hudson, the film’s star], but I have everything against the movie itself,” she told CNN. “I was not consulted. I am still alive, and I think that it is a total disrespect to come to South Africa, make a movie about my struggle, and call that movie some translation of a romantic life of Winnie Mandela.”
The Blind Side may have won Sandra Bullock an Oscar for her depiction of adoptive mother Leigh Anne Touhy, but after a while, not only the fuss over the movie but the way Michael Oher’s story was told didn’t sit well with the NFL player.
“The movie is great, it’s very inspiring to tons of people all over the world, but the main problem I have is with the football part of it,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. “Sports is all I had growing up, and the movie made me look like I didn’t know anything.”
A longtime producer for and friend of Aaliyah, Timbaland had nothing but dust for the unauthorized Lifetime biopic about the late singer’s life. The night the film premiered, he criticized not only the movie itself, but the poor casting, particularly of the people chosen to play him and Missy Elliott. Timbaland went on to say in an IG video that the whole thing was “bullsh-t.”
“A lot of people asked if I’m watching that bullshit,” he said in another video. “Evidently not. No way. Not Timbo.”
Lisa Celeste Stroud
The daughter of late music icon Nina Simone had a bone to pick with the people behind, Nina, the very controversial biopic about her mother, which starred Zoe Saldana. While she had nothing against the actress, she had everything against the particular romantic story they were telling about her mother, as well as the choice to use blackface and prosthetics on Saldana to make her more believable.
“I love Zoe Saldana, we all love Zoe,” Stroud wrote. “From ‘Avatar’ to ‘Colombiana,’ I’ve seen those movies a few times. But not every project is for everybody. And I know what my mother would think.”
When Whitney Houston’s friend and Waiting to Exhale co-star Angela Bassett decided to direct a Lifetime biopic called Whitney about the singer’s relationship with Bobby Brown and to drugs, Pat Houston and the family were not pleased. She issued a pretty lengthy statement about it, including this bit:
We have dealt with her every emotion from the day she was born until the day she died, which gives us absolute position and absolute authority as a family to feel the way we do about her legacy. We matter. We’re still here. Why wasn’t there a call to myself, Gary, Cissy or even her daughter? Why deny selected members of the family an advanced copy of the film? As we once again enter a season of bereavement and the strategic timing so close to the anniversary of Whitney’s death, this is a disappointment that any of us who loved her could do without. This creative pursuit at the expense of the integrity of such an iconic woman, who is voiceless today, reeks of condemnation and deceit. It reeks of enslavement to an industry that will likely do the same to you one day. As my grandmother used to say, “Keep living.”