Have you ever wondered what the inspiration was behind your favorite films? This list will shine some light on the hidden truth behind some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. They’re actually a lot more related to real life than you might think.

1. Catch Me If You Can

Did you know that Catch Me If You Can is an autobiographical movie? Leonardo DiCaprio plays a professional con artist in the 2002 release. However, Dicaprio’s character isn’t a work of fiction. The character comes from Frank Abagnale, a real-life swindler. Abagnale claimed to be a doctor, lawyer, and even an airline pilot during the heyday of his crimes, in the 1960s.

Abagnale started his life of crime when he was just 15 years old. He was caught and jailed at age 21. In those six short years, he assumed eight different identities. After Abagnale’s release from prison, he became a security consultant for the federal government. Plus, he showed up in the DiCaprio-led film. He had a cameo as a French cop who arrested the character based on himself. 

2. Goodfellas

Martin Scorsese’s film, Goodfellas, is hailed as one of the best gangster movies of all time. The plot is based on the life of Henry Hill. Hill was vicious New York City mobster, who was an active member of the Lucchese crime family from 1955–1980.

In 1980 Hill was caught by the police, served time, and then became an FBI informant. His testimonies over the years would lead to the arrest and convictions of 50 criminals, including famous mob bosses.

3. Jaws

Jaws kept many beach-goers out of the water after its release. This movie thrilled and terrified the population. However, this story isn’t fiction.

In 1916, Beach Haven, New Jersey, was the site of the most unique series of shark attacks ever recorded. A great white shark began a killing spree on July 1, 1916. In total, five people were killed by the shark until they caught the big-mouthed beast on July 14, 1916. Steven Spielberg used these events for the plot of one of his earliest big movies, Jaws, in 1975.

4. The Indiana Jones Films

Did you know that the Indiana Jones movies have some truth to them? Indy wasn’t a complete figment of Steven Spielberg’s imagination. There was a real-life adventurer credited as being the “Indy influence.”

Roy Chapman Andrews was an explorer back in the 1880s. He grew up roaming through woods and eventually became a skilled marksman and taxidermist. Photos of Andrews show him almost always wearing an “Indy” style outfit, complete with the action hero’s infamous hat.

5. Balto

Even cartoons take their stories from real life. The 1995 animated feature Balto was based on a real, living dog of the same name. The historical Balto basically saved the city of Nome in 1925, when he helped to carry a much-needed supply of diphtheria medicine to the isolated city. 

So, for dog heroes, it might take 70 years for Hollywood to notice. Eventually, though, that heartwarming biopic is a sure thing. 

6. Star Wars

While you can’t make direct connections to real-life events and the Star Wars films, the filmmakers made a few parallels pretty obvious. These movies are similar to Wild West themes but in space. There are turf wars and exciting battles.

You can also make connections between the Star Wars films and feudal Japan. The Jedi and samurai are incredibly similar. Both train their entire lives to be peacekeepers—peacekeepers with deadly abilities. Jedi and samurais even have similar dress codes. 

So who knows? Maybe you’ve got a healthy dose of midichlorians running through your bloodstream, or maybe you’ll be the inspiration for a new generation of truth-seeking filmmakers. After all, the truth is almost always stranger than fiction.