AI Thinks These Celebrities Look Like Famous People In History

Recently, I wrote an article about a proto-AI Facial Recognition program. It was being presented to the public, so far, as a way to link a picture of yourself and see which celebrity you most resemble. Instead, I did a little experiment using comic-book art to see who the AI would pick as the cast of a Justice League movie.

So now I had another idea. Let’s pick some of the greatest figures from world history and see which modern-day celebrity the AI would choose to portray them today. I tried as much as possible to use images as close to the actual person in history, or contemporary portraits. I also wrote this as I went along, so I had no idea what would come up. Let’s see who are the modern doppelgangers of history’s most famous people.


For Confucius, apparently the AI decided that famous stoner Tommy Chong (of Cheech & Chong fame) was the closest celebrity match.

Interestingly enough, in spite of looking pretty Caucasian, Tommy Chong is half-Chinese. Anyways, I suspect Confucius’ ancient wisdom didn’t come from the same source as Chong’s modern wisdom.

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar, the most famous Roman general of all time. The Computer thinks his best modern match is a tactical genius of a different sort. Namely, football legend Joe Namath.


I figured I should take a look at Caesar’s famous girlfriend, and last Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra. To do so I took an image of a reproduction of Cleo’s face derived from contemporary statues of her age. She was said to be the most beautiful woman in the world. So I’m guessing that TV’s Black Canary, Katie Cassidy, is about to feel ridiculously flattered:

Of course, most geeks already knew that Cassidy is pretty damn hot.

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan changed world history maybe more than any other ruler. Apparently, the AI thinks Genghis Khan’s closest celebrity match is French action hero Jean Reno.

It could be! Even though Reno is obviously not Mongolian, something like 1 in every 200 people worldwide are descended from Genghis! Incidentally, when I put my own picture into the AI, it also said I was a match for Reno. Could that mean I’m descended from the Great Khan too?

Christopher Columbus

The program decided that apparently Sir Ian McKellen is the closest to the man who “discovered” America.

Maybe he’d be up for portraying an aged Columbus? Only problem is Columbus was 54 when he died, and Sir Ian is already 77.

Henry VIII

Our AI wants Adult-Swim comedian Eric Wareheim to portray Henry.

Wareheim might be great for a really surreal comedy about the king. After all he was the one who gave us this:


The AI says the best match for William Shakespeare is comedian and “Daily Show” alumnus John Hodgman.

Hmm… could there be the makings of some great Tudor-era comedy with Wareheim and Hodgman together?

George Washington

This AI has Americans playing British Kings & Playwrights, so why not have an Irish George Washington in Gabriel Byrne?


Mike Posner is not the first name I think of when I think “greatest musical genius of his age,” but according to the computer, he’s the best facial fit to Mozart.

I’m sure Posner would rather it was a music-detection system, but I bet he’d be glad for any association to one of the greatest composers of all time.


Sometimes AI programs get confused. Either that, or they’re geniuses. Anyways, if it was casting Napoleon Bonaparte for a movie, our AI would pick supermodel Christy Turlington.

She’d definitely be the hottest person ever to portray the “little Corsican” who conquered huge swathes of Europe. Oh yeah, and Christy is 5’10” to Bonaparte’s 5’6″.

Queen Victoria

The closest celebrity match to Queen Victoria is none other than His Royal Highness Prince Edward!

While he might not be totally flattered by the comparison, it’s not a big surprise that they have similar facial features, and a good catch by the AI. Prince Edward is Queen Victoria’s great-great-great-grandson, after all.

Chairman Mao

George Takei was famous as Mr.Sulu from Star Trek, and more recently as an outspoken gay celebrity and left-wing social-media activist.

I wonder if he’s left-wing enough to want to play Chairman Mao, the brutal Chinese Communist dictator?

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