Wahl Street – the docuseries chronicling the daily life of Mark Wahlberg – has returned for a second season, and it’s still as good as ever. For an actor who based a scripted series (Entourage) on his life, revealing details about himself is no challenge hence viewers get to learn a lot with each new episode.
However, Wahlberg is only one of many actors to have their real lives explored on screen. Over the years, sit-downs, footage, and captivating narrations have been combined to examine the lives of modern-day and former Hollywood stars. And even though the documentaries are plenty, a couple of them stand out as more captivating.
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The life of Val Kilmer is examined through footage shot by the actor himself in the aptly titled Val. The events, spanning four decades, are narrated by Kilmer’s son, Jack.
A good number of documentaries tend to be rooted in speculation because there is always little to no footage to back up whatever is being said. Luckily, right from his childhood days, Kilmer knew that there would be a project like this in the future. For that reason, he always recorded himself. By watching Val, one can easily tell that it’s curated to portray the actor in good light but for someone who had very few missteps, there is never a feeling that any litter is being shoved under the couch.
Becoming Bond (2017)
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George Lazenby was the only non-British actor to play James Bond as well as the only actor to play the character once. Through, interviews, real-life footage, and re-enacted dramatizations, Becoming Bond tells his story.
Film lovers may forget that Lazenby was Bond because he didn’t hang around for long like other actors, but the documentary proves that he was the one that closely mirrored the MI6 spy in real life. Not only did Lazenby trick his way into getting the role, but he was also cocky and charming from a young age. As he narrates some tales from the interviewee’s seat, even Lazenby himself can’t help but be amused at how outlandish some of his actions were.
Charlie: The Life And Art Of Charles Chaplin (2003)
Stream On MUBI
Few documentaries get to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival but when the subject is one of the people at the center of some of the best Silent Era movies, the fanfare has to surge. Directed by Richard Shickel, The Life And Art Of Charles Chaplin is a conclusive biographical journey.
Minute by minute, the documentary reminds everyone watching that Chaplin was no ordinary actor. His work ethic is highly emphasized and so is his overall talent. And for those who feel he might be overrated, stars like Johnny Depp and Martin Scorsese are placed in front of the character to repeat the “Charlie is a genius” message in their own words. By the time the credits start to roll, no important detail has been left out.
Tab Hunter Confidential (2015)
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Based on the autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential, the documentary concentrates on Tab Hunter, an actor who also doubled as a singer. Events dance between Hunter’s career and the struggles with his sexuality.
Modern-day movie fans hardly know the names of studio bosses but from the ‘60s going backward, they were major stars too. And through the experiences of Jack Warner, it becomes clear that they weren’t easy to work with. Hunter’s love life makes for a captivating tale too, as he once dated many stars, including Antony Perkins who played one of the most evil horror movie killers in Alfred Hitchock’s, Psycho. It’s also acknowledged that being a member of the LGBTQ+ community during the Golden Age of Hollywood wasn’t easy.
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (2018)
Stream On Hulu
Before his tragic death, few people knew the mental health struggles Robin Williams, a man who made so many people laugh, faced throughout his life. Come Inside My Mind thus addresses Robin Williams’ challenges, while acknowledging his triumphs.
Just like in Robin Williams’ movies, there are several laugh inducing moments in the documentary, but there are plenty of sad ones too, making the manner in which director Marina Zenovich blends joy and melancholy quite commendable. The viewer gets the impression that thorough research has been done too. Insights come from all directions too, including from industry titans such as David Letterman and Whoopi Goldberg.
The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes (2022)
Stream On Netflix
Decades after her death, Marylin Monroe remains a hot topic of discussion. Directed by Emma Cooper, The Mystery Of Marylin Monroe relies on Pulitzer Prize nominee Anthony Summers’s 3-year research into the mysterious circumstances of the star’s death.
Numerous Marylin Monroe movies have been made but most of them tend to gloss over one important thing: her demise. Well, Cooper’s documentary sticks to these particular events, and viewers get to hear from everyone that mattered, from Monroe’s psychiatrist Ralph Greenson to Bully Wilder. Plus, there is a shocking new revelation too: Monroe died on her way to the hospital and not at her Brentwood home.
Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey (2000)
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The short, yet eventful life of Bruce Lee is narrated in the documentary, Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey. Exclusive information about the action star is provided too.
Dozens of Bruce Lee documentaries have been made over the years, but A Warrior’s Journey tops them all because it leaves out no important party when it comes to the interviews. The actor’s fans will also be thrilled by the fact that there are 23 minutes worth of footage from Lee’s last unfinished project, Game Of Death. Fans thus get to see a mini-movie within a documentary.
I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale (2009)
Stream On Vudu
John Cazale might not be well-known to modern-day fans, but he is one of the actors with the best good-movie streak, having starred in five consecutive Best Picture-nominated movies. But he is best known for playing Fredo in The Godfather and the documentary dives into his career.
Since Cazale was quite private, viewers get to learn little about his personal life, except for his time as a cancer patient. Nonetheless, there is enough information about his professional life to keep eyeballs trained on the screen. The interview list is star-studded too. It includes Al Pacino, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Francis Ford Coppola, and Meryl Streep, who once dated the actor.
Jane Fonda In Five Acts (2018)
Stream On HBO Max
Few professionals in any field can boast of a 60-year career. Well, Jane Fonda can, and the documentary explains how she managed to do it.
Documentaries rarely fail to be pleasant when the subject did so much and that’s the case for Jane Fonda. From her vast filmography to her opposition to the Vietnam War to her feminist causes, there is plenty of ground to cover, But it sure does get covered, all of it. That Jane Fonda in Five Acts was nominated for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special is yet another reason why everyone should spare 133 minutes for it.
Wahl Street (2021 – Present)
Stream On HBO Max
Mark Wahlberg struggles with the demands of being a famous Hollywood actor and managing a vast business empire. And since none of the two can be dropped, he gives it his all.
Most fans only know of Wahlberg’s movies and while some of them divide fans and critics, his business empire will awe everyone. With a gym chain, a burger chain, a clothing line, a bottled water business, a nutrition brand, and an auto group, Wahlberg sure does qualify to be included among the guest sharks on Shark Tank. The actor isn’t shy from embracing self-congratulation either, reminding everyone that it sometimes takes sleeping at 2:30 am and locking yourself in a cryogenic chamber for an hour to achieve what he has achieved.
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