Bryan Cranston Responds to Backlash Over Disabled Role

'Breaking Bad' star takes flak for playing quadriplegic in 'The Upside'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2019 1:35 PM CST
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This image released by STXfilms shows Kevin Hart, left, and Bryan Cranston in a scene from "The Upside."   (David Lee/STXfilms via AP)

(Newser) – Bryan Cranston has been getting some backlash for his role as a man with quadriplegia in The Upside, but he's not apologizing. Though the Breaking Bad star said the subject was "worthy for debate," he noted, "As actors we're asked to play other people. ... 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?" He added that he doesn't know what the answer is: "Where does the restriction apply, where is the line for that?" he said during an interview with the Press Association, per the BBC. "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," he added, per Sky News.

Cranston acknowledged there should be more opportunities for actors with disabilities, and the BBC notes that Jake Gyllenhaal (who played a man who lost his legs in the Boston Marathon bombings in Stronger) and Dwayne Johnson (who played a man with a prosthetic leg in Skyscraper) have both been similarly criticized. There have also been recent controversies over white actors playing non-white characters (examples here and here) or straight actors playing gay or transgender roles (Darren Criss, who won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role as a gay serial killer in The Assassination of Gianni Versace, recently pledged not to take any other LGBT roles; Scarlett Johansson opted out of a role as a trans man after criticism). The Upside, a remake of the 2011 French film Intouchables, also stars Kevin Hart. (And Hart is involved in a controversy of his own.)

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