Bryan Cranston defended playing a quadriplegic in his upcoming movie “The Upside,” saying taking on the role was a “business decision” amid the growing debate about expanding casting in Hollywood.
Cranston told the Press Association that he’s aware of “the need to expand opportunities” to others when it comes to casting specific roles, but as an actor, he has the right to take on characters with different attributes and abilities. In “The Upside,” Cranston plays a wealthy quadriplegic who hires a caretaker, played by Kevin Hart, to help him on his daily routine.
"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, according to Sky News. “We're very aware of the need to expand the opportunities for people with disabilities.”
"As actors, we're asked to be other people, to play other people,” he added. “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?”
"I don't know, where does the restriction apply, where is the line for that? I think it is worthy for debate to discuss those issues,” he continued.
Some social media users previously questioned Cranston being cast for the role.
"Are disabled actors....not a thing? Like, you couldn’t find one? No disrespect to Bryan Cranston, only the chuckleheads who cast it," someone tweeted, while another person said, "Disabled actors whose names will get people in seats pretty much aren’t a thing, unfortunately. I’m not taking a side on if it’s right, but the studios want money."
Several actors, including Tilda Swinton and Jack Whitehall, have received backlash in recent years for taking on movie roles that some argued could have gone to LGBTQ or minority actors.
Scarlett Johansson was criticized in 2017 when she was cast as the lead in “Ghost In The Shell,” a remake of a Japanese anime classic. Many people argued the role should have been given to an Asian actor.
Johansson also pulled out of playing a transgender character in the film “Rub and Tug” after the LGBTQ community slammed the project for not giving the opportunity to a trans actor.
“Glee” star Darren Criss said last month he will no longer play a gay character because he wanted to “make sure I won't be another straight boy taking a gay man's role.” On Sunday, Criss won a Golden Globe for playing Andrew Cunanan, a gay serial killer, in the show, “American Crime Story: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace.”