Movie characters are supposed to be larger than life. There unbelievable personalities and antics are what make movies entertaining. Sometimes, though, these characters are based on real life people, and the ones who are may surprise you.

6. The Dude (Big Lewbowski)

The Character:

The Dude is the lovable and quotable stoner from the movie The Big Lewbowski. In the film, The Dude and his bowling buddies get in way over their heads when they get embroiled in a kidnapping/extortion scheme involving a rich man and his trophy wife, a gang of nihilists, and many more after seeking retribution for The Dude’s soiled floor rug. In his defense, the rug really tied the room together.

The Real Life Person:

The writers and directors of the movie, The Cohen Brothers, basically had Jeff Bridges play a film producer buddy of theirs by the name of Jeff Dowd. Dowd was a member of a group of political activists in the ‘60s and ‘70s before settling down in California to produce movies, drink white Russians and gratuitously use the word ‘man’ a lot. Dowd even shared the same nickname.

5. Raul Duke and Dr. Gonzo (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)

The Characters:

In the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Raul Duke and his accomplice/ lawyer go on a drug-fueled rampage across the desert. Their shenanigans include, but are not limited to, attending a police convention while under the influence of numerous drugs, hallucinating that bats and dinosaurs are after them and pulling a knife on random strangers.

The Real Life People:

Raul Duke and Dr. Gonzo were the aliases of one Hunter S. Thompson and Oscar Zeta Acosta. The story featured in the movie is based on a novel of the same name by Thompson and is a blend of fact and fiction. Sports Illustrated did send Thompson to cover The Mint 400 race. Rolling Stone also would send Thompson back to Las Vegas to cover the National District Attorneys’ Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. How much of the rampant drug use and insane things Thompson and Acosta actually did that is featured in the movie and the book is a mystery.

As for Acosta, he was an actual attorney and political activist for the Chicano movement. He disappeared while on a trip to Mexico a few years after the events depicted in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He was never found. Thompson points out in an obituary for his friend that Acosta “suffered from an addiction to amphetamines, and had a predilection for LSD.” His son is also attributed as saying “The body was never found, but we surmise that probably, knowing the people he was involved with, he ended up mouthing off, getting into a fight and getting killed.”

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