Wednesday 25 April 2018

Scope joins criticism of Alec Baldwin film Blind for not casting disabled actor

The charity said it is a “missed opportunity” to cast a disabled actor for Baldwin’s role, a novelist who lost his vision in a car crash.

Dylan McDermott, Demi Moore, Hilaria Baldwin and Alec Baldwin at a premiere for Blind (Andy Kropa/AP)
Dylan McDermott, Demi Moore, Hilaria Baldwin and Alec Baldwin at a premiere for Blind (Andy Kropa/AP)

By Sam Blewett

Alec Baldwin’s latest film Blind, in which he plays a visually-impaired writer, has received criticism for not casting a disabled actor in his role.

Scope said the film was a “missed opportunity” to cast a disabled actor while a US organisation compared the move to so-called blackface, where white actors are cast as black characters.

Richard Lane, Scope’s head of communications, added on Thursday: “Disabled actors still often face insurmountable barriers to break in to the business.

“There is a massive pool of disabled talent being overlooked. Creative industries should be embracing and celebrating difference and diversity, not ignoring it.”

Criticism first came from The Ruderman Family Foundation, an American philanthropic organisation that fights for the inclusion of disabled people.

Its president, Jay Ruderman, said: “Alec Baldwin in Blind is just the latest example of treating disability as a costume.

“We no longer find it acceptable for white actors to portray black characters. Disability as a costume needs to also become universally unacceptable.”

Baldwin, 59, who has been garnering worldwide attention for his impressions of US President Donald Trump, plays a novelist who lost his sight in a car crash that killed his wife.

The film, which will be released in the US on July 14, also stars Demi Moore as a woman who must care for Baldwin’s character as part of a plea bargain deal for her husband.

Ruderman released a report last year that laid bare the disparity between the proportion of disabled people in the public and that of those in acting.

It found people with disabilities make up 20% of the US population, but 95% of disabled TV characters are played by able-bodied actors.

However on the same day it criticised Blind, the foundation praised the advocacy work of Jamie Foxx, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of blind musician Ray Charles.

The foundation clarified that it commends Foxx for being vocal about lack of on-screen disability representation but maintains he should not have been cast for the role.

Baldwin’s representative declined to comment.

Press Association

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