Bill Ray/Time & Life Pictures/Getty
December 27, 2014 02:50 PM

Imprisoned in a room with the curtains drawn for up to 16 hours at a time, forced to paint one big-eyed waif after another for several years in the early ’60s, Margaret Keane never dreamed she’d one day watch her life play out on the big screen.

“I was in shock,” the soft-spoken artist, 87, says about first watching Tim Burton’s film Big Eyes.

“It was like I was seeing him again.”

“Him” is Walter Keane (played by Christoph Waltz), Margaret’s megalomaniac husband who rose to fame after taking credit for his wife’s portraits of saucer-eyed children.

Now, 44 years after Margaret revealed to the world that she was the one behind the paintings that became a kitsch sensation, Burton – a longtime Keane collector – is shining a spotlight on the strange tale, with star Amy Adams earning Oscar buzz.

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