Living the dream: when film fans get over-attached

At times, we all want to live in a favourite film. But, from the man who lives in an airport to the fan who removed bits of his nose, the reality is sometimes painful

The internet is full of lists of the most inspirational movies, usually topped by The Shawshank Redemption and Rocky. But how many filmgoers have actually escaped from prison using only a blunt spoon (OK, a rock hammer) after watching Frank Darabonts pathos-drenched tale of perseverance in the face of appalling hardship, or took on the world heavyweight champion and won, after viewing Sylvester Stallones heartwarming blue-collar sports drama?

In the week that a former security guard for David Beckham revealed he is living at Heathrow airport for real after watching Tom Hanks in Steven Spielbergs The Terminal, here are several movie fans who for better and in some cases much, much worse were inspired to mimic their big-screen heroes.

The Fight Club fan who tried to start Project Mayhem for real

Police officers outside a New York branch of Starbucks in 2004. Photograph: Andrew Gombert/EPA

When Kyle Shaw, 17, was arrested in 2009 for setting off a homemade bomb outside a New York Starbucks (using fireworks, electrical tape and a plastic bottle), investigators initially linked the teenagers attack to a number of previous unsolved bombings in the Big Apple over the previous four years. But they ended up unfurling an entirely unexpected conspiracy.

After raiding the students Manhattan digs, police found a DVD of David Finchers 1999 film, along with a packet of sparklers and a news clipping of the coffee-shop attack. A fair cop, you might say. What eventually emerged was a picture of a troubled young man who appeared to be using Finchers film as a sort of personal guide to becoming an anti-corporate domestic terrorist. His statements indicated he was launching his own Project Mayhem, Police commissioner Raymond W Kelly told reporters.

The Starbucks bombing, which shattered windows and destroyed a bench but did not result in any injuries, followed Shaws participation in real-life fight clubs in Manhattans docklands. Its not known whether he also invented a handsome alter-ego with the charm and rugged good looks of Brad Pitt to carry out his dastardly work for him, but evidence suggests Shaw may not have been as cold-blooded as his movie counterpart: his bombing took place at 3.30am, when Starbucks patrons had long since gone home.

The Pixar fans who moved into a house exactly like the one from Up

California couple Clinton and Lynette Hamblin were so obsessed by the story of Carl and Ellies picture-perfect property that they decided to move into the real-life equivalent. The Up house was built by specialist Utah property company Bangerter Homes in early 2011 with the blessing and help of Pixar, and was open to the public as a tourist attraction for a period prior to the Hamblins arrival in 2012.

Living in the house, in the small city of Herriman, Utah, has brought its own challenges for the family, all pronounced Disney and Pixar fans who publish a blog about their experiences. Not least the fact that members of the public, unaware the property is now a private residence, are prone to walking in on Sunday lunch.

Now were really good about it just so people dont accidentally walk in. And we put up a little sign, Clinton told We didnt want to, but the knocking and the ringing was getting hard because weve got a dog and she goes ballistic when the doorbell rings.

The teenagers who died in the wilderness after watching Into the Wild

Emile Hirsch as Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild. Photograph: Allstar/Paramount/Sportsphoto Ltd

There is a rare purity to the story of Christopher McCandless, the subject of biographical drama Into the Wild, whose determined quest to find a life less ordinary led ultimately to an agonisingly slow death from poisoning and starvation in the Alaskan wilderness. But the natural conclusion for most viewers of Sean Penns poignant film is that there must surely be less painful ways to escape the toxic fumes of civilisation.

Not so poor Dustin Self, 19, who left his parents home in Oklahoma in March 2013 after telling them he wanted to test himself against the wilderness, just like McCandless. Selfs remains were found 20 months later in a remote corner of mountainous south-east Oregon, where he had apparently trekked to get away from it all. He isnt the only young man to have been inspired by Into the Wild. In August 2013, the body of Oregon teenager Johnathan Croom, 18, who was said to be heartbroken after the end of a romantic relationship, was found in an Oregon forest.

Croom was obsessed with Penns film, according to his family. Local police said they believed the death was most likely a result of suicide.

The man who changed his name by deed poll to Han Solo

Bad feeling about this … Harrison Ford as the real Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photograph: Allstar/Disney/Lucasfilm

Stourbridge man Dominic Kimberley, 35, thought it would be a spiffing idea to rename himself after the galaxys greatest space scoundrel, until it emerged he might never be able to leave Britain legally again, let alone head off on the Millennium Falcon for adventures in the cosmos. Kimberley, a fan of Star Wars since the age of four, successfully changed his name by deed poll for a fee of just 12, but was subsequently unable to secure a passport in his new name.

I had booked a holiday to Thailand so sent my passport off with the deed poll letter and they sent it back saying I couldnt change it because it was a fictional character, Kimberley/Solo told I rang them, and was on the phone for hours going from manager to manager, but nobody would sort it out for me.

The West Midlands man was ultimately forced to travel using his old passport, but is now terrified of being caught the next time he leaves the country and locked up in some wretched hive of scum and villainy.

The Venezuelan man who mutilated himself to look like the Red Skull

We live in an era of unprecedented popularity for cosplay the practice of dressing up as ones favourite fantasy character. But Henry Damon of Caracas, Venezuela, undoubtedly took the whole thing a bit too far after chopping off part of his nose to more closely resemble the Marvel villain The Red Skull, as essayed by Australian actor Hugo Weaving in Captain America: The First Avenger.

Caracas also tattooed his face red and had implants placed in his forehead, in order to look more like the wartime leader of fictional Nazi terrorist organisation Hydra. For good measure, he also tattooed his eyeballs black.

He has loved comic books since he was a kid and always dreamed of being Red Skull, but never got round to doing it, Damons friend Pablo Hernandez told the Daily Mail. As of 2015, the Marvel fan was planning to have silicone implants placed in his cheeks and further facial tattooing to complete the transformation.

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