“Really Odd Hybrid”: The Bikeriders’ True Story & Book Accuracy Explained By Director

“Really Odd Hybrid”: The Bikeriders’ True Story & Book Accuracy Explained By Director


  • The
    movie is inspired by real events, but much of the story was invented by the director Jeff Nichols.
  • The dialogue in the film is mostly taken directly from Danny Lyon’s photobook, adding a touch of realism to the fictional characters.
  • Despite its roots in reality,
    The Bikeriders
    is a hybrid of fact and fiction, offering a unique perspective on the 1960s motorcycle club culture.

While it might be based on a true story, The Bikeriders is not entirely rooted in reality. The movie is inspired by Danny Lyon’s photobook, which featured images from the time he spent with the real-world Outlaws Motorcycle Club. It stars Jodie Comer, Austin Butler, Tom Hardy, Norman Reedus, and more. It had its full domestic premiere on June 21 and Bikeriders has received fairly positive reviews.

Even after its release, the movie’s roots can be difficult to navigate. In an interview with Digital Spy, writer and director Jeff Nichols opened up about how much of the movie actually came from Lyon’s book and how much of it was inspired by real-world events. Much of the dialogue is from the book, but there is not much plot available there to sift through, leaving Nichols to “invent” the rest of the story. Check out his full quote below:

I would say 70% of the dialogue is taken from this book, certainly of Kathy’s dialogue. To say that this story follows these real people, that’s not true either. It is this really odd hybrid where we had Danny [Lyon, author] visiting these people in 1965, and then he was done. And that’s all I really had. So I had to invent everything before and everything after. It really is a balance of saying:
these are fictional characters, but they hold a lot of reality in them
, taking directly out of Danny’s book.

The Bikeriders Is Based On A True Story

While Based On Reality, It Does Not Wholly Follow Real-World Events

The Bikeriders details the events that Danny Lyon theoretically witnessed while traveling with the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club for four years, starting in 1963. The events were only theoretical because the movie took significant liberties in telling the story of their adventures. The Vandals, for instance, were not a real club, and there are many characters who never appeared in Lyon’s book at all. The true story of the original Bikeriders book features a fearless determination to tell the truth about non-fiction events. Nichols, meanwhile, was seeking an interesting story for his movie.



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Lyon’s book includes photographs showcasing his travels and the written responses to various interviews. Each biker explains their own story and has monologues expressing their wants and whims within the text. In the movie, however, these characters need consistent and satisfying arcs, adventures, and motivations. Much of the dialogue came from the monologues, but the overall themes were fictional. Nichols needed to ensure that everyone in The Bikeriders‘ cast would have a satisfying conclusion, which could be challenging if fully relying on real-world events.

Lyon’s character, for instance, was played by Mike Faist, and is not quite the same person that the real-world Lyon was. Instead of riding with the motorcycle club, Faist’s Lyon is less comfortable with the group and never rides a bike himself. Nichols also changed details about character histories, including Lyon’s profession, age, and purpose. The borrowed dialogue ensured that there are never true anachronisms, but Nichols never sought perfection. The Bikeriders is a completely fictional story that borrows from real-world events.

Source: Digital Spy