Actor Bryan Cranston is defending himself after people criticized him for playing a man with a disability in a movie.
In his new movie “The Upside,” the actor plays a man whose caretaker is played by comedian Kevin Hart. Some were quick to criticize the studio for not casting an actor with a disability to play the role.
Critics of the casting decision posted their dissatisfaction on Twitter:
Hey @BryanCranston if you want to be good ally to the disability community:
1) acknowledge the inequality in your industry
2) speak on your privilege & role in upholding or dismantling ableist systems
3) take action by creating space & opportunities for others #TheUpside https://t.co/iB35VZIEsr
— Alice Wong (@SFdirewolf) January 9, 2019
Bryan Cranston is trending for being cast as a quadriplegic man. I see lots of people defending him, saying it's his job as an actor. As a disabled actor myself, let me point out that such roles are the ONLY roles disabled actors would be considered for… yet we still aren't.
— Ally Craig (@mr_craig) January 8, 2019
The fact that @BryanCranston believes he is qualified to play someone disabled is highly offensive. Nondisabled actors cannot act disabled because disability is not something you can act. You either are disabled or you aren't.
— Dominick Evans (@dominickevans) January 6, 2019
Cranston responded to the critics, saying that while he understands the criticism, it’s important to understand the perspective of the project.
“We live in the world of criticism, if we’re willing to get up and try something, we have to also be willing to take criticism,” Cranston said. “We’re very aware of the need to expand the opportunities for people with disabilities.”
He also pointed out that his job is to portray different characters.
“As actors, we’re asked to play other people,” Cranston said in an interview. “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?”
Director Neil Burger also spoke out in Cranston’s defense in a recent interview, saying the film was done to bring awareness.
“It is a really interesting question, does an able-bodied actor have the right to play a person with a disability? And there’s arguments on both sides of it,” Burger said. “All I know is that we did an incredible amount of research and went at it with as much respect and honesty that we could – and certainly Bryan Cranston did – and our goal is to shed light and be compassionate and be respectful to those communities.”