The director of Alec Baldwin's new movie has defended the actor's casting as a blind man amid an outcry from disabled rights groups.
In Blind, the Pearl Harbour star plays a writer who loses his wife and his sight in a car accident, and the film's director, Michael Mailer, has been blasted for not recruiting a blind actor for the role.
Officials at the non-profit Ruderman Family Foundation, who fight for "the self-representation of people with disabilities" in the movies and on TV, claim Baldwin's casting is "just the latest example of treating disability as a costume".
Mailer, the son of famous writer Norman Mailer, has taken issue with the group, suggesting officials' complaints discredit "Academy Award-winning performances over decades by the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, Jamie Foxx in Ray, Jon Voight in Coming Home, Al Pacino in Scent Of A Woman, and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory Of Everything, to name just a few."
The first-time director writes: "In order to greenlight an independent film, one must attract a 'name' actor for a fraction of a studio paycheck if there is to be any chance at getting the film financed. And while I’m sure there are many talented, vision-impaired actors out there, I do not currently know of any who have the marquee appeal needed to get even a modestly budgeted film made. Such are the realities of film financing today."
"As a producer-director, I would welcome an expanded pool of talent and greater opportunity to work with the disabled," Mailer continues in his statement. "(In fact, a number of disabled people were cast in speaking and background roles in Blind.) So rather than attempt to score cheap media points by going after talented actors like Alec Baldwin, who was simply excited by the professional challenge of playing a disabled character, why doesn’t the Ruderman Family Foundation focus on creating constructive dialogue and programs to advance actors who suffer from disabilities.
"I applaud the good work they do. There are bigger fish to fry than my little film."