"It is the perfect example of Hollywood's ongoing systemic discrimination against actors with disabilities."
‘Stronger’, the upcoming movie about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, has been condemned by a disability charity for casting Jake Gyllenhaal instead of a disabled actor.
The film is based on a memoir of the same name by real-life bombing survivor Jeff Bauman, who lost both his legs in the attack. He co-wrote the film.
Gyllenhaal plays Bauman in the movie, but The Ruderman Family Foundation – an organisation which advocates for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in society – isn’t happy that actors with actual disabilities were overlooked for the role.
“The casting of Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead in the movie Stronger is the perfect example on Hollywood’s ongoing systemic discrimination against actors with disabilities,” the foundation’s president, Jay Ruderman, said in a statement.
“By his own admission, Director David Gordon Green never even considered any other actors in a role in which Gyllenhaal plays a character who is a double amputee.
“By not even giving actors who are amputees the chance to audition for the role awarded to Gyllenhaal, Green effectively denied actors with disabilities to even be considered for the role.”
“Gyllenhaal’s character presents a challenge since he plays a character who is able bodied and then through tragedy acquires a disability,” the statement continues.
“Gyllenhaal is made ‘to have a disability’ through the latest in Hollywood’s technology, but an actor who is an actual double amputee could be made to walk through the same technology that was used to make Gyllenhaal disabled.”
Bauman himself however, has praised Gyllenhaal’s role in the film.
“I don’t know another actor that could have conveyed that the early days are tough but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and things do get better,” he said in a statement according to Daily News.
“Jake and I spent so much time together going over how I walked, moved and transferred. He asked questions no one really ever asked me before like what hurt, what obstacles are the toughest — he was so invested and it showed.”
The film premiered at Boston’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital on September 12.
It’s set for UK release on October 5.