Good characters make good movies. More often than not, they are fictional but even the greatest writers that ever lived could only take inspirations from those around them. So, in that spirit, here’s a list of our favourite characters and the real people they are based on. 

1. Severus Snape was based on J.K Rowling’s Chemistry professor, John Nettleship. 

Nettleship had even acknowledged the fact that Snape was based on him, even though he didn’t recognise himself when he saw Alan Rickman on screen but he claims that everybody else knew.


2. Joker was actually inspired from German actor Conrad Veidt in his title role as Gwynplaine in the film The Man Who Laughs.

Although the character has gone through some major changes through the decades, his main features have remained the same: the white makeup and the frozen scar on the face!


3. Harley Quinn was inspired by screenwriter and comedian, Arleen Sorkin. 

Sorkin would actually go on to be the actual voice of the character. Paul Dini, the creator of the character, speaks about this: 

Arleen and I are friends. When I was thinking about Harley, I just thought to myself, ‘Gosh, she sounds like Arleen.’ When Sorkin appeared as a wacky jester on Days of Our Lives in a Pied Piper outfit, and I was like, ‘Well, there she is. She should run around with the Joker dressed like that.

4. Norman Bates is based on real life killer Ed Gein

The character is based on the real-life crimes of Ed Gein. Gein has also influenced other films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs. And true to the character, he also had an unhealthy obsession with his mother. 

All That Interesting

5. Ursula from The Little Mermaid was inspired by the iconic drag performer Divine.

The creators originally intended to make a villain based on Joan Collins but then thought a character based on Divine would be a much better choice. 


6. Ariel’s face was constructed with Alyssa Milano in mind. 

The actor didn’t even know she was behind the character till the movie released. 

The Things

7. Hazel from The Fault In Our Stars based on Esther, a Youtuber who made videos about living with cancer. 

Esther was friends with John Greene, and he wrote the book about her after she died at the age of 16. 

History Vs Hollywood

8. Piper from Orange Is The New Black is based on an actual person, Piper Kerman. 

Kerman actually spent 13 months in prison for drug trafficking and tax invasion with her girlfriend, who became the inspiration for Alex Vauss. 

LA Times

9. The famous Indiana Jones was inspired by a Yale professor and explorer Hiram Bingham III. 

Entertainment Weekly

10. The legendary character, the OG vigilante, Zorro was based on real life bandit Joaquin Murrieta, also known as the Robinhood of El Dorado. 


11. The Vultures from The Jungle Book were based on The Beatles. 

Apparently, it was the Beatles’ manager who had first suggested that Disney design the vultures based on them. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were about to not only voice the characters but also to sing but then Lennon refused. 


Well, these people, irrespective of if they were famous IRL or not, will not live forever through these characters.