It Ain’t Me, Babe: Every on screen portrayal of Bob Dylan rated

The folk hero has been portrayed by many, many actors in his lengthy career – but who really nailed it?

Bob Dylan‘s mythmaking makes him the perfect subject for the screen, so it’s no surprise his story has been told – either in full or in snippets – several times over. Yet another movie, Going Electric, focusing on his career is in the works and indie darling Timothée Chalamet is reportedly in talks to tackle the controversial part of Dylan’s life when he – shock horror – ditched his acoustic guitar and went electric. But how will he fare against the actors and comedians who’ve come before him?

Hayden Christensen


Who: Former Star Wars actor positioned to be a major Hollywood heartthrob who has since taken a less prominent role in the limelight.
When: Christensen played a thinly veiled portrayal of Dylan in the 2006 Edie Sedgwick biopic Factory Girl.
How Dylan were they? He bordered on caricature, but the essence of Dylan was there.

Jimmy Fallon


Who: Smarmy US TV host and sometime actor, currently on NBC’s The Tonight Show.
When: Doing an impression of Bobby D singing Drake on his chat show in 2016.
How Dylan were they? Bob wouldn’t be caught dead doing an impression of Drake.

Dana Carvey

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Who: US comic most famous for playing Garth in Wayne’s World.
When: On SNL’s Weekend Update segment back in February 1991, where he was also joined by David Spade as Tom Petty.
How Dylan were they?: If you ignore the fact he was talking nonsense, the voice was pretty spot on.

John C. Reilly


Who: American comedy legend and incredibly versatile actor.
When: He played rock star Dewey Cox – an amalgamation of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Brian Wilson and more – in the 2007 comedy Walk Hard.
How Dylan were they?: He might have been taking the piss, but Reilly’s performance was almost more Dylan than Dylan himself.

Eddie Marsan

Who: English actor who has been in seemingly everything but whose name will never ring a bell.
When: In Sky Arts’ 2017 Urban Myths series, in an episode dedicated to the legend of Dylan going to visit the Eurythmics’’ Dave Stewart in Crouch End, only to get lost and spend the afternoon drinking tea with a fan instead.
How Dylan were they?: He gave us a pretty bang on Bob, from looks to mannerisms.

Hugh Laurie


Who: The epitome of the bumbling posh English man.
When: In a 1995 episode of BBC comedy series A Bit Of Fry And Laurie.
How Dylan were they?: He nailed a lot of Dylan’s lyrical themes, but our Bob would never lose his conviction on the chorus’ killer line.

Cate Blanchett


Who: Aussie actor with a chameleon-like ability to really become her roles.
When: In the 2007 movie I’m Not There, in which she and five other actors represented different phases of the great musician’s life.
How Dylan were they?: As Jude Quinn, Blanchett was a folk singer whose decision to go electric had outraged his fans – sound familiar? Not only that, but the star’s appearance as Dylan was visually incredibly spot on.

Ben Whishaw

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Who: One of the UK’s finest indie actors.
When: I’m Not There.
How Dylan were they?: Whishaw played Arthur Rimbaud, one of Dylan’s writing heroes. In his scene offering “seven simple rules for life in hiding”, his demeanour is pure Dylan.

Christian Bale


Who: US actor with a rep for being a bit of an angry man.
When: I’m Not There.
How Dylan were they?: Bale’s Jack Rollins was meant to signify Dylan’s protest years, while his later Pastor John was a representation of the musician’s “born-again” period. He was surprisingly uncanny, particularly with his singing.

Heath Ledger


Who: Late Australian actor whose death shocked the world in 2008.
When: I’m Not There.
How Dylan were they?: Ledger played the very meta role of Robbie Clark in the movie, an actor who took on the part of Jack Rollins in a biopic. Part of his segment of I’m Not There sees him recreate the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, but his Dylan-ness is largely more tangential.

Richard Gere


Who: Former sex symbol and old school actor who won a Golden Globe for his part in 2003’s Chicago.
When: I’m Not There.
How Dylan were they?: Gere took on Billy the Kid, referring to when Dylan appeared in the 1973 western Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid. As it was, Gere’s representation of him felt more like one of a cowboy (albeit a poetic one) than of one of the greatest musicians of all time.

Marcus Carl Franklin


Who: Child actor who has had a quiet career since 2015.
When: I’m Not There.
How Dylan were they?: Franklin’s character was named Woody after Dylan’s hero Woody Guthrie. The only kid in the film’s cast, Franklin brought a youthful, unjaded side to the story of many grizzled Dylans.

Bob Dylan


Who: Only the curly-haired folk grump himself!
When: In Martin Scorsese’s 2019 half-documentary, half-fictional caper Rolling Thunder Revue.
How Dylan were they?: It would be pretty disappointing if he wasn’t the most Dylan Dylan on this list and, thankfully, he was.

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