October 1, 2022

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Famous Olympians IRL Vs The Movie

What can’t Margot Robbie do?

The Winter Olympics kicked off last week, and ever since, I’ve been so into watching ~inspiring~ movies about the games.

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Olympic biopics, since it’s pretty cool to learn about the athletes and their stories. But I will say, watching these biographical movies has made me wonder what the Olympians looked like in real life.


U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Team / Giphy / Via giphy.com

And I figured everyone else has probably wondered that too. Lucky for you, I’ve decided to round up a list of nine legendary Olympians as well as the actors who played them in their biopics. Here they are:


U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Team / Giphy / Via giphy.com

1. What Tonya Harding actually looked like:


Focus On Sport / Getty Images

Tonya Harding was an American figure skater in the 1990s. She placed fourth in the 1992 Winter Olympics and is most known for planning the attack on her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, at the US Nationals competition in 1994. The 2017 movie I, Tonya portrays this scandal and how Harding’s name became tarnished in the world of ice skating.

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding in I, Tonya:

Side by side:


Focus On Sport / Getty Images, / Everett Collection / Everett Collection



Christof Stache / AFP via Getty Images

Michael Edwards, known as Eddie “The Eagle,” was a British ski jumper who competed in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. He was the first British ski jumper to compete in the games since the late 1920s and was known for his positive and upbeat attitude. The 2016 film Eddie The Eagle follows his “underdog” story and how he became such a charming figure in the 1988 Olympics.

Taron Egerton as Michael Edwards in Eddie the Eagle:


20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Side by side:


Christof Stache / AFP via Getty Images, 20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection


3. What Jesse Owens actually looked like:


Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Jesse Owens was an American track runner. He was one of the best runners in history, most known for winning four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which was overseen by Adolf Hitler. The 2016 film Race portrays Owens as he travels to Germany to compete in the games and later rise to victory.

Stephan James as Jesse Owens in Race:


Focus Features / ©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

Side by side:


Bettmann Archive / Getty Images, Focus Features / ©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection



Ncaa Photos / NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Steve Prefontaine was an American long-distance runner. He was an athlete for the University of Oregon, where he won the NCAA 3 miles/5K for all four years he attended the school. He went on to run the 5K in the 1972 Olympics, but did not end up with a medal. A year before he was set to compete in the 1976 Olympics, Prefontaine tragically died in a car crash — he was only 24 years old. The 1997 film Prefontaine chronicles the athlete’s life from childhood to death.

Jared Leto as Steve Prefontaine in Prefontaine:


Buena Vista Pictures / ©Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Side by side:


Tony Duffy / Getty Images, Buena Vista Pictures / ©Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection



Pa Images / PA Images via Getty Images, Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Eric Liddell was a Scottish missionary turned runner and won the gold medal for the 400m dash at the1924 Olympic Games in Paris. His friend and teammate, Harold Abrahams, also represented the United Kingdom in the games that year and took home a silver medal after competing in the relay. Chariots of Fire (1981) is about their friendship and how the two made their country proud at the Olympics.


Ian Charleson and Ben Cross as Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire:


20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Side by side:


Pa Images / PA Images via Getty Images, Bettmann Archive / Getty Images, 20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection


7. What Jim Thorpe actually looked like:


Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

Jim Thorpe was an American track runner and won two gold medals for the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. He made history as the first Native American to win a gold medal for the US in the Olympics. In addition to his victories as an Olympian, Thorpe played football at the highest level and established himself as one of the greatest athletes of all time. The 1951 film Jim Thorpe — All-American tells Thorpe’s story and the obstacles he faced as a Native American competing in the games.

Burt Lancaster as Jim Thorpe in Jim Thorpe — All-American:

Side by side:


Alamy Stock Photo, Topical Press Agency / Getty Images


8. What Herb Brooks actually looked like:


Focus On Sport / Getty Images

Herb Brooks was an accomplished American hockey player and was the last player cut from the 1960 US Olympic hockey team, which went on to win gold. He eventually represented the US hockey team at the 1964 and 1968 Olympics but did not win any medals. However, in 1980, Brooks coached the US hockey team to victory. The 2004 film Miracle is about Brooks as he coaches the team to success.

Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks in Miracle:


Focus On Sport / Getty Images, Alamy Stock Photo


9. What Milkha Singh (and his wax statue) actually looked like:


Hindustan Times / Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Milkha Singh was an Indian runner who placed fourth in the 400m dash at the 1960 Rome Olympic games. He quickly gained the nickname “The Flying Sikh” after showing the world how fast he was. Singh also made history as the first athlete from his country to win a gold medal in the 1958 Commonwealth Games. The 2013 film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is based on Singh’s life and his rise to success.

Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag:


Reliance Big Pictures / Reliance Big Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection


Hindustan Times / Hindustan Times via Getty Images, Reliance Big Pictures / Reliance Big Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection


What do you think? Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen any of these films!