History Lesson: Stars Who Played Historical Characters

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  • Will Smith
  • Denzel Washington
  • Morgan Freeman, Nelson Mandela
  • Don Cheadle
  • Zoe Saldana
  • Halle Berry
  • Angela Bassett, Mary J. Blige
  • Madonna
  • Forest Whitaker
  • Benicio del Toro
  • Chadwick Boseman, Jackie Robinson
  • Salma Hayek

Morgan Freeman in Invictus (2009)

The veteran actor earned his fifth Academy Award nomination for his role as Nelson Mandela in Clint Eastwood's drama. It seemed like the role Freeman was born to play, and certainly became the standard-bearer of portrayals of the South African leader on the big screen.

(Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

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