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Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston in hot water over disabled role in ‘The Intouchables’ remake

Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston in hot water over disabled role in ‘The Intouchables’ remake
Actor Bryan Cranston is facing a social media backlash for playing a disabled character in his latest movie because he is not actually disabled – a casting decision which some people have found highly problematic.

Cranston, best known for his role in Breaking Bad, plays a quadriplegic billionaire in his new movie ‘The Upside’ – a Hollywood remake of the 2011 French film ‘The Intouchables.’ The casting of Cranston as a disabled character has ignited passionate social media debate, however.

While some are claiming that choosing an able-bodied actor deprives actors who are really disabled of opportunities, others say that Cranston was chosen for his top-notch acting ability and was therefore the right person for the role.

On Twitter, some pointed out that the “only” roles disabled actors could be considered for those portraying disabled people and therefore they should be the ones getting those roles.

Others argued that Cranston’s proven acting chops are likely the reason he was chosen – not to mention the fact that Hollywood producers want to cast high-profile, “bankable” actors.

Some on the anti-Cranston side shot back, however, saying the reason there are few disabled actors at Cranston’s level is because they are not given opportunities. Others though, said it would be too time consuming for a person who was genuinely quadriplegic to play the role.

Cranston himself defended his decision to take the part, saying that an actor’s job is to portray 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?” he said.

Filmmaker Dominick Evans, who is also a disability inclusion advocate, told RT that casting non-disabled people in disabled roles causes a “considerable amount of harm” to disabled people.

“Most non-disabled people are afraid of becoming disabled and non-disabled people are primarily writing films about disability, so if you’re coming at it from a place of harm and fear to begin with, it’s probably not going to be an actual, accurate representation of what disability is and what disabled people’s lives are like,” Evans said.

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Media commentator Gina Loudon told RT, however, that it doesn’t necessarily matter who plays what role, so long as the right issues get attention. Movies like ‘The Upside’ “bring awareness to the issue of disability” and “as long as [disabled people] are depicted in a realistic or positive light” then it’s a “good thing,” Loudon said.

Actors have faced backlash in recent years for playing characters who belong to minority groups to which they don’t belong. In 2018, Scarlett Johansson dropped out of a movie in which she was going to play a transgender person after considerable outrage, while Emma Stone faced criticism for playing the role of a character who was supposed to be part-Asian in the 2015 romantic comedy ‘Aloha.’

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