Our series continues with a writer, a general, an all-around entertainer and a couple of country western singers—real people played by real actors who won real Oscars for their efforts.
Sissy Spacek as Loretta Young
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
Lynn was closely involved with the film, selecting Spacek to portray her and inviting the actress to join her on tour so she could study the singer’s actions onstage and off prior to filming. Both Spacek and Beverly D’Angelo, playing Patsy Cline, did all their own singing, with Spacek performing all of her songs live on the set.
Reese Witherspoon as June Carter
Walk the Line (2005)
Like Loretta Lynn with Coal Miner’s Daughter, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash approved who would play them—Joaquin Phoenix and Witherspoon, respectively—on film. Phoenix learned to play the guitar, Witherspoon learned the autoharp, and both actors trained for six months with T-Bone Burnett in order to do their own singing in the film. Both Johnny and June died before production began.
George C. Scott as General George S. Patton
The speech that famously opens the picture is an amalgam of speeches delivered at various times by the decorated World War II General. Awards notwithstanding, Scott felt he hadn’t captured the complexities of the part, which had been turned down by Rod Steiger, Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum and Burt Lancaster. John Wayne went after the role, but was turned down by producer Frank McCarthy.
James Cagney as George M. Cohan
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
Cagney was Cohan’s choice to play him in the picture, citing the actor’s background as a vaudville song and dance man. Cagney was not the studio’s choice, however, as they first attempted to get Fred Astaire to play the performer many historians consider the father of American musical comedy.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote
Author Gerald Clarke’s biography of the famed writer was the basis for the movie, which chronicled the events surrounding Capote’s authorship of In Cold Blood. The film was released on September 30, 2005, on what would have been Capote’s 81st birthday.