AceShowbiz - Action man The Rock a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson has come under fire for failing to cast a real amputee as the star of his new blockbuster Skyscraper.
The Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle star portrays former FBI hostage rescue team leader and amputee Will Sawyer in the new disaster thriller, in which he has to save his loved ones from the tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong after it comes under attack by terrorists.
Sawyer uses a prosthetic leg to continue working in security after a mission-gone-wrong, and although actor/producer Dwayne and writer/director Rawson Thurber recruited a real-life amputee hero as an advisor onset, actress and Paralympic Games medallist Katy Sullivan insists able-bodied Johnson should have stepped aside and given the role to someone who actually knows what it's like to lose a limb.
Sullivan, who has featured in TV shows including My Name Is Earl and NCIS: New Orleans, shared her concerns about the new movie in an open letter published on Deadline.com.
"While I am thrilled that a film about a kick-a** veteran and father (who is a unilateral below-the-knee amputee) got green-lit in the first place, the problem is this perpetuates the fact that we're not given the agency to tell our own stories," she wrote.
Sullivan insists Hollywood filmmakers should be offering such jobs to disabled actors first, and points to the backlash surrounding actress Scarlett Johansson's recent decision to walk away from playing a transgender character in Rub & Tug as a similar example of a casting failure.
"This is also the truth for performers with disabilities being sidelined so that able-bodied actors can 'play at' what it's like to live life with a disability," she continued. "What we lose in that is the genuine, authentic perspective.
"There is a bit of a misconception that a performer with a disability wouldn't be able to handle the grueling schedule of a feature film. This community of ours contains some of the strongest, most capable and tough individuals imaginable. And the amount of determination they need to just deal with a world that wasn't made with them in mind is staggering. Try navigating New York City in a wheelchair. Believe me, a movie set is a dream".
Our goal with SKYSCRAPER was to help change the perception of people with amputations. I wanted to be groundbreaking in that for the first time ever in a big budget Hollywood tentpole film, the main character is an amputee. The hero. Who kicks ass. I’m honored to have played the role and grateful to get such strong support and luv from the amputee community. Big shout out to my good bud and one of my main inspirations for my role in the movie, Jeff Glasbrenner @teamglas. Thank you brother and keep inspiring us all. #SKYSCRAPER
Sullivan concludes her letter with a rallying call for actors, producers, and directors of all backgrounds to work together to bring about real change in the industry.
"It's when we all band together to do the right thing for TRUE inclusion and diversity that we start to change not only the landscape of our entertainment, but through that, we change the perception of what individuals with disabilities are capable of doing (in general)," she added.
Johnson and Thurber have yet to comment on the criticism, but they have been paying tribute to amputees throughout their recent press tour for Skyscraper, and even met with disabled patients during a surprise hospital stop in New York City.