Netflix's new limited series Hollywood just dropped on the streaming service, delving into the intricacies and biases behind Hollywood's filmmaking. The show untangles the "what ifs" of a less-oppressive film industry, following real-life actors into this alternate reality.
But how much of Hollywood is based in truth — and is Rock Hudson and Archie Coleman's relationship based on a true story?
Is 'Hollywood' based on a true story?
Well, yes and no. Hollywood is not so much a retelling of what happened as it is a story of what could have happened if the film industry hadn't been so oppressive. What could have happened if actor Rock had come out earlier? What could have happened had women be able to run movie studios?
“I wanted to do a show about buried history,” creator Ryan Murphy told the New York Post. “I wanted to give some people who were dealt a terrible hand by Hollywood a happy ending. And I wanted to ask a big, revisionist history question, which was: If these people who were allowed to be who they were in the late 1940s and get that image up on the screen, would it change the trajectory of Hollywood and would it trickle down and change my life as a gay kid growing up in the 1970s who felt that I had no role models?”
So while some of the people and events are grounded in truth, it's the outcome of these events that changed, creating an intricate domino effect to speculate how the industry could be now.
Is Rock and Archie's relationship based in truth?
Rock was rumored to be in the closet throughout his time in Hollywood, though there was never any confirmation of his sexual orientation. This also means that any of Rock's potential partners over the years were also kept largely under wraps, so it's unclear if Archie is actually based on any specific person in his life.
“Fifty percent of it is based on reality," Ryan said, according to The Cinemaholic. "The show is a blending of real-life people I’ve been obsessed with since I was kid: Anna May Wong, Hattie McDaniel, Rock Hudson, Vivien Leigh, George Cukor. All of their stories and almost all of the things that they’re involved with are pretty accurate and heavily researched. And then the fictionalized people around them, many of them are based on real-life characters.”
So Archie is likely based on a secret partner that Rock had, either before or after his marriage, though there isn't an exact person in his life Archie can be derived from.
The only potential public connection Rock had was with his good friend Jim Nabors. In 1971, a rumor began circulating that the pair had secretly wed, though both men denied it. It was that rumor that eventually drove their friendship apart.
Archie is likely not based on Jim, as in Hollywood, as Archie is an African-American screenwriter while Jim was an actor, but it's possible Archie is based on another lover in Rock's life that is not known to the public.