Being healthy and able to move around with the use of both legs is wonderful, but some actors have taken their roles as being disabled to a level that is entirely believable and very respectful to those that are actually disabled. They typically want to know how to function, how to react, and what their limitations are in order to really fulfill the role with the responsibility and passion that it requires. Let’s face it, no one wants to watch a film in which an actor is being anything less than diligent concerning a role in which the character is supposed to be disabled.
The respect that such a role is to be given is truly embodied by several actors, such as those below.
5. Lt. Dan Taylor – Forrest Gump
Lt. Dan didn’t want anyone calling him crippled no matter that he’d lost both legs slightly above the knee. He was just as fiercely independent however, perhaps even more so being that he was so confined. Regardless of that Dan still functioned and helped Forrest out on the boat by performing various tasks. Near the end he’d received what Forrest would dub “magic legs”, two prosthetic limbs that helped him move about. In those days however the prosthetic limbs likely weren’t all that comfortable and would only be possible to wear for a certain period of time.
4. Jake Sully – Avatar
Talk about being shoved into a situation you’re not prepared for. The twin brother of a scientific genius, Jake was a soldier that knew how to take orders and shoot first without asking questions. When he’s placed in the Avatar program due to his genetic compatibility he has to learn everything on the fly. Being given a new body with fully functioning legs could only be described as being given new life. We can take note of Jake’s increasing disillusionment with his own failed body each time he takes a look at his own wasted and stick-thin limbs.
3. Ron Kovic – Born On The 4th Of July
Too many men that went to Vietnam came back in this condition. They were maimed, beaten, and otherwise forgotten by those that they had supposedly gone to fight for. The general discontent that was felt by so many soldiers sent to Vietnam was astounding, but even more so was the fact that while the government sought to take care of their vets, many were either forgotten or purposefully pushed aside if they told anything other than what was approved of their trip to Vietnam. No one wants to hear that their country was part of one of the most controversial wars of all time.
2. Christy Brown – My Left Foot
Struck with cerebral palsy from a very young age, Christy is able to move only one part of his body with any type of dexterity, and that is is his left foot. The hardships that such a person must have felt growing up are immense to even think about, but never once did the character give up on what he wanted. Daniel Day-Lewis is the type of actor that throws himself into a role so fully that it’s no wonder that he is considered to be one of the most popular and talented actors in Hollywood.
1. Professor Charles Xavier – X-Men
There really could not have been anyone better suited for this role. Charles Xavier is a man of distinction, a leader, and a teacher. Patrick Stewart slipped into the role without a single hitch, taking it quite seriously and yet still finding a way to have fun with it. I do believe that if anyone else attempted to fill Xavier’s role, other than McAvoy at this time, there might be a general outcry that would spell the end of the X-Men franchise.
Being in a wheelchair and thus being seen as disabled is nothing really glamorize, but it’s not to shy away from either. These actors have nailed this roles in such a manner that they were respectful and true to the character.