Cover art for podcast Based on a True Story

Based on a True Story

205 EpisodesProduced by Dan LeFebvreWebsite

We've all seen the movies that claim to be 'based on a true story', but have you ever wondered how historically accurate they are? That's what we'll find out as we compare Hollywood with history.


A Beautiful Mind

On October 11th, 1994, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced their Nobel prize winners. Three brilliant scientists jointly won the coveted award. They were Professor John C. Harsanyi from the University of California, Berkley, Dr. John F. Nash from Princeton University and Professor Dr. Reinhard Selten, from the University of Bonn in Bonn, Germany.

Less than a month later, on November 13th, 1994, a writer for The New York Times wrote a great article called The Lost Years of a Nobel Laureate which told the story of one of those men, Dr. John Nash. The author of that article was Sylvia Nasar.

Sylvia, who was a staff writer at the Times when she wrote the article, would go on to expand on the article. In 1998, her book called A Beautiful Mind was released to critical acclaim. It would go on to be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and win the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.

Soon after, muti-award winning Hollywood producer Brian Grazer read an excerpt from Sylvia's book in the Vanity Fair magazine. Brian is the co-founder of Imagine Entertainment, a company he co-founded with director Ron Howard in 1986. Brian's films, which include some we've covered on the podcast such as Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon, have won 43 Academy Awards and 131 Emmys. Needless to say, he knows a good story when he sees one. And he wasted no time in purchasing the film rights for Sylvia's book.

On December 13th, 2001, the film A Beautiful Mind premiered to a limited audience before it's nation-wide release on January 4th, 2002. With a budget of about $58 million, A Beautiful Mind had an all-star cast led by Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Paul Bettany and more. All under the helm of the talented Ron Howard as director.

The film was a smash hit as it earned over $317 million worldwide on its way to winning the coveted Oscar for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Despite such great numbers, many critics said the filmmakers changed around many of the key details, and omitted many more. Are they correct? Let's find out as we dive into the world of the Nobel Laureate John Forbes Nash, Jr., as we learn the true story behind A Beautiful Mind.

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