17 Times Celebrities Created TV Shows Or Movies Based On Their Real Lives


No one else could tell their stories better.

A lot of the time, biopics, such as House of Gucci, are done without input (or approval!) from the people they’re about. Sometimes, however, the subject of a biopic is the very person bringing the story to life behind the scenes.

Here are 17 celebrities who created TV shows or movies based on their own lives:

1. Harry Styles executive produced Happy Together, a sitcom loosely based on the time he spent living in Ben Winston’s attic during the height of his One Direction fame.

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It ran from 2018–19 and was cancelled after one season.

2. In 2017, married couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon co-wrote The Big Sick, which is based on their real-life love story.

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Nanjiani also stars in the movie as a fictionalized version of himself. 

His character originally wasn’t supposed to share his real last name, but due to a nametag mix-up on the first day of shooting, the character kept the name Kumail Nanjiani. 

3. Weird Al Yankovic co-wrote the script for the upcoming biopic Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, which will star Daniel Radcliffe.

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According to the official synopsis, the movie “takes audiences on a truly unbelievable journey through Yankovic’s life and career.”

4. Pete Davidson co-wrote and starred in 2020’s The King of Staten Island, which director Judd Apatow described as “an imagining of what Pete’s life would have been if he didn’t find comedy.”

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Davidson said his character is “75% me.”

5. Muhammad Ali starred as himself in the 1977 biopic The Greatest.

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Chip McAllister portrayed the younger version of Ali.

6. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson both executive produces and stars as a future version of himself in Young Rock, a sitcom inspired by the “wildly Forrest Gump-ian life that [he has] been lucky enough to have.”

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The series began airing in 2021.

7. Chris Rock created and narrated the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, which was based on his teenage years in Brooklyn.

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It ran from 2005–9, ending when the lead character’s life caught up with the real comedian’s decision to drop out of high school and pursue comedy.

8. In 1980, Sophia Loren starred as herself in the biopic Sophia Loren: Her Own Story.

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She also played her mother, Romilda Villani.

9. Nicki Minaj was set to executive produce and cameo in Nicki, a sitcom based on her family’s immigration from Trinidad to Queens, but it was effectively cancelled before it aired.

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Initially, the show was set to be reworked after shooting the pilot. However, after ABC Family transitioned to Freeform, Nicki never made it to air.

10. In 1950, Jackie Robinson starred as himself in the biopic The Jackie Robinson Story.

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11. Many storylines on Seinfeld were based on the real-life experience of show creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.

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It ran from 1989–98. Seinfeld played a fictionalized version of himself, and David inspired the character George Costanza. 

12. Ice Cube and Dr. Dre produced Straight Outta Compton, a 2015 biopic about their rap group N.W.A.

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The younger version of Ice Cube was played by his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr.

13. Dolly Parton narrated the 2015 film Coat of Many Colors, which is based on a story from her childhood in Tennessee.

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14. In the mid-’90s, Johnny Cash asked James Keach to make a movie about his life, so Keach began interviewing Cash, which eventually led to the 2005 biopic Walk the Line.

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Keach produced the film, which was released after Cash’s death. 

James Mangold, who directed it, also spent four years interviewing him about his life in order to get him to open up about his relationship with June Carter.

15. In 1920, Babe Ruth starred as himself in the silent film Headin’ Home, which was marketed as the “true story” of his life but was largely fictionalized.

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16. Venus and Serena Williams executive produced King Richard, a biopic about their father and coach, Richard Williams.

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Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, who played Venus and Serena as children, were both excited to portray their childhood heroes onscreen.

Singleton told BuzzFeed, “Even before I was really a tennis fan, I’ve always been fans of them just because of all the barriers they broke through and all the doors opened for other young Black girls.”

17. And finally, after Elton John and his husband David Furnish spent nearly 20 years trying to get a film about the singer’s life off the ground, they co-produced 2019’s Rocketman.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images / David Appleby / © Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

John “kept a discrete distance from the actual process” of making the film, but he let Furnish be his “eyes and ears on set every day.”

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