Disability rights group slams casting of Joaquin Phoenix in new film

Gus Van Sant's 'Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot' sees Phoenix play quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan

Joaquin Phoenix’s leading role as disabled cartoonist John Callahan in the upcoming biopic Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot has been criticised by a disability rights group.

Phoenix will star as Callahan in Gus Van Sant’s new movie, which is set for release in the US on May 11 and also stars Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara and Jack Black. A new trailer for the film arrived earlier this week – you can watch it below.

However, the Ruderman Family Foundation has criticised the film following the premiere of the trailer, arguing that Van Sant and the producers of Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot should have cast a genuinely disabled actor instead of Phoenix.

Jay Ruderman, the president of the Foundation, said it was “a mistake” for Phoenix to be cast in the biopic, which is based on Callahan’s memoir of the same name.

“The time has come for the entertainment industry to audition and cast actors with disabilities to play leading roles portraying disability,” Ruderman said. “As we enter 2018, American society no longer finds it acceptable for white actors to play black, Asian or Hispanic characters.

“It is equally unacceptable and offensive for able-bodied actors to be cast inauthentically in the roles of characters with disabilities.”

According to the Foundation, only 2% of disabled roles in recent Hollywood films have gone to disabled people – despite the fact that 20% of people in the US are disabled.