Top 10 films and series in which actors with disabilities play

There is a debate that often comes up in cinema: should the roles of disabled characters only be given to disabled actors? And can an able-bodied actor play a disabled character? Often, this debate returns in the form of controversy, as during the American remake ofUntouchables, where the role initially occupied by François Cluzet (which has never bothered in France) had also not been attributed to a disabled actor across the Atlantic. In any case, we don’t have a definite answer on the subject, but we thought it would be interesting to see the films and series for which the production played the game by allowing actors with a disability to play a role that suits them.

1.Breaking Bad

RJ Mitte, who plays Walter White’s son, has cerebral palsy. On the other hand, that of Mitte is less pronounced than that of Junior. Mitte therefore leaned on his disability to conform to the role.

Top 10 films and series in which actors with disabilities
Photo credits (CC BY 2.0): Texas A&M University – Commerce Marketing Communications Photography

2. The Eighth Day

The film with Daniel Auteuil and Pascal Duquenne was a huge hit at the cinema when it was released in 1996. The relationship between a guy obsessed with work and a person with Down syndrome was all about the pretty story that seduces, it must be said . Pascal Duquenne will obtain the price of male interpretation of the festival of Cannes for this role (together with his partner, Daniel Auteuil).

3. Marie Heurtin

Inspired by the true story of the eponymous from the 19th century, the film by Améris tells the life of a young deaf, mute and blind girl interned with nuns. It is thanks to her that sign language experienced its early formalization. If she is not blind, Ariana Rivoire, who plays Marie Heurtin, is actually deaf. Isabelle Carré, who gives him the reply, has also learned sign language herself in order to be able to communicate (and appear credible on the screen).

4. Kenny

This film by Claude Gagnon is a big Quebec hit that brought together almost 300,000 spectators. It tells the story of Kenny, played by Kenny Easterday, a guy who has no legs and still moves around. Kenny Easterday will have managed to live until the age of 43, not without having first given birth to a little girl. He was 12 years old at the time of filming.

5. Yo Yambian

This Spanish film tells a story of friendship and love between Daniel, a disabled young man and Laura, an independent girl. Despite the mockery and reluctance of their friends, they hold on and fight against prejudice. It is Pablo Pineda, Down syndrome in life as on the screen, who plays the role of Daniel; he got the silver shell for best actor in San Sebastian for his role. In addition, Pablo Pineda is also the first Down syndrome in Europe to have obtained a higher education diploma.

6. The Tribe

Award-winning at Cannes in 2014, Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s film tells the story of young people placed in a boarding school for the deaf and dumb. All of the actors in the film are deaf in life and none were professional before the film’s release.

7. Quietly

Monstrous, blind creatures that eat humans but can only rely on their hearing to locate them… This is the pitch of A Quiet Place, a deadly film by John Krasinski and in which we follow a family lucky enough to count among its members a young deaf and mute girl – suddenly, everyone speaks sign language and it avoids being eaten. This young girl is Millicent Simmonds, 15, who is also deaf in life and delivers a crazy performance.

8. Stranger Things

Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin, has cleidocranial dysplasia, a genetic disease affecting the bones and preventing the closure of the fontanel (among other inconveniences). This handicap was taken seriously by the Duffer brothers who rewrote the role of Dustin to perfectly match Gaten.

9. Coronation Street

Liam Bairstow has Down’s syndrome, but that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the main characters in Coronation Street, where he plays Alex. And apparently, it was Bairstrow’s acting that landed him the role, and certainly not a pass to do well.

10. Everyone for All

In the film by Vianney Lebasque which tells the decision of a coach of a basketball team made up of mentally handicapped people to call on two able-bodied players to fill in the absences at the approach of the Paralympic games, all the characters playing disabled people really are in real life. The director and his casting director have beaten the pavement of dedicated institutions to find the ideal candidates. This is how they came across Vincent Chalambert and Clément Langlais.

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