Bryan Cranston has spoken about playing a disabled character in “The Upside”, insisting the casting was very much “a business decision.”
The 62-year-old stars alongside Kevin Hart, 39, in the flick about a wealthy man with quadriplegia and an unemployed man with a criminal record who’s hired to help him. Cranston told the Press Association: “As actors, we’re asked to play other people.
“If I, as a straight, older person, and I’m wealthy, I’m very fortunate, does that mean I can’t play a person who is not wealthy, does that mean I can’t play a homosexual? I don’t know, where does the restriction apply, where is the line for that?”
Numerous celebrities have faced backlash in the past for taking on disabled roles, with Jake Gyllenhaal’s “Stronger” and Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper” being two recent examples.
Hart added of the debate, “I think having a conversation started is always a good thing.
“In this particular case, bringing awareness to the fact that, Hey, we would love to see more disabled people given the opportunities to participate in the entertainment world, and potentially grow.”
Trevor Noah tackled the controversy on a recent episode of “The Daily Show”. Noah thought the backlash was unwarranted, but one statement from a wheelchair-bound actor totally changed his perspective.
“He just wrote a really cogent, beautiful response online. Didn’t fight with anybody, didn’t call anybody anything, didn’t judge anybody,” Noah explained. “And he completely opened my eyes to a perspective I never thought of.”
“He said, ‘I understand what an actor is. I, too, am an actor. But I’m an actor in a wheelchair, and I never see parts that are leading roles for a person in a wheelchair. And so the one time I see a role where there’s a person in a wheelchair, I think, wow, this could be it. This could be the moment where I have all of the tools necessary to play this part. Do I get a shot at playing it?’ And he was like, ‘Because when you think of it on the flip side, they never call people with wheelchairs in to play able-bodied people, and they’ll get able-bodied people to play people in wheelchairs.’”
That got Noah thinking: “I never thought of it like that. My perspective, obviously, as someone who is not in a wheelchair—I just never thought of it that way.”