This year, a number of actors with disabilities enjoyed success in high profile television roles. From Emmy Award Winning Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones to RJ Mitte as Walt Junior inBreaking Bad, both television programs have been commercially successful and have turned Dinklage and Mitte into red carpet regulars.
Historically, able-bodied actors have been cast as disabled characters and are often praised for their “realistic” portrayal. Leonardo Dicaprio famously played an intellectually disabled character in What’s Eating Gilbert Grapeand said of the experience “I had to really research to get into the mind of somebody like that.” Able-bodied Sam Worthington played paralyzed marine Jake Sully in Avatar and Patrick Stewart has been paraplegic Professor X since the X-Men franchise began in 2000. Whilst suitable roles exist for actors with disabilities, it’s extremely difficult to get cast because big names guarantee box office success.