History Lesson: Stars Who Played Historical Characters

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  • Salma Hayek
  • 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

Denzel Washington in Malcolm X (1993)

Washington has played a number of historical figures, including Steve Biko and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, but he'll perhaps best be known for his portrayal of controversial civil rights leader Malcolm X in the eponymous biopic directed by Spike Lee. Washington was fresh off his Oscar-winning turn in Glory when he took on the challenging role, which earned him another Oscar nod and a host of other awards. 

(Photo: Courtesy of 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks)

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