New Line Cinema
Most romantic movies feel like fairytale-esque stories that fail to reflect the reality of dating and relationships. After all, first kisses can be awkward as heck and not all popular guys instantly fall for geeky girls (contrary to what She's All That or A Walk To Remember might've told you). However, you'd be surprised to know that a few romantic classics were actually inspired by true events. Though we can still appreciate the world of make-believe and its ability to help us escape the real world, it's kind of comforting to know that such gripping and powerful love stories also exist real life.
These films remind us that real love can be even more magical than the fictional couples we fangirl over. And though they don't always lead to happy endings, most these stories still give us hope. See which romantic movies were inspired by real events.
20th Century Fox
The Academy Award-winning film focused on the romantic relationship between famous singers Johnny Cash and June Carter. The two met while they were on tour and while Johnny was still married. In fact, this was one of the reasons why Johnny's wife, Vivian, filed for divorce (not to mention his drinking habits, numerous affairs, and constant touring). Two years after his divorce, Johnny proposed to June during one of his live shows. They got married and stayed together until June passed away in 2003.
You'd think that such an insane love story was completely made up, but actually, the events in the film really happened to two devout Christians. Kim and Krickitt Carpenter wrote about it in their book, which details how their faith in God helped sustain their marriage after they survived a brutal car crash and Krickitt experienced amnesia. Even though the film avoided the book's religious themes, it's safe to say that Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum's characters stayed true to the real couple's personalities.
As of now, sadly, Kim and Krickitt are divorced. They split after 25 years of marriage due to Kim's infidelity and Krickhitt mentioned that she is "devastated" about how things turned out. So are we, girl. So are we.
Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino's roles were inspired by real-life couple Shirl and Barbara Jennings. By the time Shirl turned seven, he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a chronic eye disease that involves the breakdown and loss of cells in the retina. And like the main character, Shirl underwent procedures to (temporarily) regain his sight after being blind for a while. However, the sudden change was too overwhelming and he had a major sensory overload.
Eventually, Shirl became ill and began to lose his eyesight again. His condition had worsened so much that he became disabled. But even despite all this, Shirl's wife was patient with him and their relationship remained intact. Before his death, Shirl spent some time with Val to help him prepare for this film.
Four years before we saw Julia Roberts travel the world in Eat Pray Love, the real Elizabeth Gilbert penned her own experiences about her quest to self-discovery. At just 34, after going through a tough divorce and feeling confused about her future, Elizabeth decided to break out of her comfort zone and travel. After finding her spirituality and learning to enjoy great food, she found love in Indonesia. And like in the film, she fell for a Brazilian businessman named Felipe. However, in real life, after staying married to him for three years, Elizabeth announced that the two would be getting a divorce. *sigh*
Bright Star tells the story of poet John Keats' romance with Fanny Brawne, whom he also considered his muse. It's a rather tragic love story. John was a struggling poet who had nothing to offer Fanny, so he'd planned to wait until he gained success or at least became financially stable enough to support her. But unfortunately, he died from tuberculosis before he could get his happily ever after. Fanny mourned his death for over six years, but it wasn't until 12 years after his death that she moved on and married Louis Lindo.
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
We all know about the famous criminal duo who are often still referenced to this day. In the film, the pair had an instant attraction and they wound up robbing banks together during the Great Depression. But in real life, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow also robbed stores and gas stations and murdered multiple officers and civilians along the way. They got away with their crime spree for over two years until they got caught by law enforcement. The couple was ambushed and killed in Louisiana in 1934.
The comedy is based on the real-life story of con man Steven Jay Russell. He's known for escaping from prison multiple times and embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Plus, he took on several identities including an FBI agent, a judge, and a doctor. However, the most intriguing part is that he committed most of these crimes to help his boyfriend, the real Phillip Morris, live in luxury.
In an interview from prison, Steven explained his first meeting with Phillip: "It was lust at first sight. I didn't think it was possible. I mean, we were in prison! He was softly spoken, with a deep southern accent. I saw him in the law library trying to get a book. He's short – he's only 5ft 2 and I'm 6ft 2, and I said, 'Hold on, I'll get that for you.' And that was it."
The 1994 rom-com, starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda, was actually inspired by a real-life incident. In the movie, Officer Lang visits a diner and he can't afford to tip the waitress, so he promises to split his lottery money with her if he wins. Both are in miserable marriages when they meet, but after some time, they fall for each other.
However, in an actual New York diner in 1984, a cop named Robert Cunningham suggested that he and waitress Phyllis Penzo split the winnings after both of them chose three of the six numbers. By the time Robert had won the lottery, Phyllis completely forgot about it - but Robert still honored their agreement. Sadly, the two never actually fell in love like in the movie, but they were longtime friends!
Okay so it's not technically a romance film, but the heart-melting love story between John Nash and his wife, Alicia, definitely counts for something. John, who was a well-known mathematician, struggled with paranoid schizophrenia, but the first signs of his mental illness became evident only after they'd met. It was Alicia who had approached John, and the two eventually got married. They stayed together for six years before separating, but then got remarried nearly four decades later. The couple sadly passed away together in a car crash in 2015.
The biographical film focused on Stephen Hawking's relationship with his first wife, Jane Hawking. In fact, it was an adaptation of Jane's memoir, called Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. In it, she shared details about how their love story began and how it slowly went downhill. They fell in love after they met in grad school, but after they got married and had children, there were just too many problems to ignore. For one, Stephen's illness proved to be a challenge because Jane had to take on most of the responsibility at home. Plus, they often clashed on their religious beliefs because Jane was a Christian and Stephen wasn't. Also, it didn't help that the theoretical physicist's growing fame was causing discomfort.
Just like in the movie, both Jane and Stephen accepted that their relationship was over and they moved on to other people. But still, they remained pretty close.
Fine Line Features
Total Eclipse showed us the abusive affair between famous French poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud. Similar to the film, Arthur was only a young teenager when he sent his letter and got invited to stay with Paul. After abandoning his young wife and child, Paul and Arthur became lovers, but their relationship basically turned into something that was beyond dysfunctional. Paul was in such a drunken rage at one point that he ended up shooting and injuring Arthur. This landed him in jail for two years and he eventually converted to Christianity. But when he tried to rekindle his relationship with Arthur afterward, it didn't quite work out.
Sony Pictures Classics
We are still not over the fact that this guy was old enough to be Nelly's dad. But in real life, Charles Dickens was 45 years old and Nelly Ternan was just 18. He first spotted her during one of her shows and he was so impressed that he cast her in another play. That was just the beginning of what would turn into a secret love affair that continued until Charles's death. But apparently, Charles's then-wife caught wind of it after she accidentally received a gift that was meant for Nelly. As a result, the married couple got divorced after their 22 years together.
Nordisk Film Distribution
The historical drama tells about the affair between Queen Caroline Matilda of Great Britain and her husband's physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee. In real life, as Queen Caroline's husband's mental health deteriorated, she and Johann grew very close and they eventually became lovers. However, word got out about their affair and things didn't end so well. Political enemies took advantage of the scandal and sadly, Johann wound up being executed while Caroline was exiled.
We're so grateful that this film gave us all the juicy deets about theBarack Obama and Michelle Obama's first date. A much younger Barack, who worked as a summer associate at a Chicago law firm while attending Harvard, began to pursue his talented supervisor, Michelle Robinson. And on a summer evening in 1989, the two finally had their first date where they visited an Ernie Barnes exhibit, went to a screening of Do The Right Thing, and actually had their first kiss in front of an ice cream parlor. Fun fact: There's now a historical plaque in Chicago that marks the place where Michelle and Obama first kissed!
This epic rom-com was actually a remake of the original 1997 film, which also had the same title. But both movies were actually inspired by English writer Nick Hornby's autobiographical essay. Instead of loving baseball and the Boston Red Sox, Nick was obsessed with the Arsenal Football Club (or as Americans would call it, soccer). His story didn't necessarily focus on his romantic life, but he did include an account of one of his former relationships, which helped inspire the film.
On his website, Nicholas Sparks revealed that his book was inspired by his wife’s grandparents, who were married for over six decades. Since they were too ill to make it to his and his wife's wedding, Nicholas and his wife decided to visit them and do another little wedding. It was then that the couple shared the story of how they met.
Nicholas said: "Though their story was wonderful, what I most remember from that day is the way they were treating each other. The way his eyes shined when he looked at her, the way he held her hand, the way he got her tea and took care of her. I remember watching them together and thinking to myself that after sixty years of marriage, these two people were treating each other exactly the same as my wife and I were treating each other after twelve hours. What a wonderful gift they’d given us, I thought, to show us on our first day of marriage that true love can last forever." D'AAAAWW!