For years the common wisdom in Hollywood was that if you want to earn an Oscar nod that all you had to do was play someone with a mental disability. To me that idea really bugged me on multiple levels:
1) How hard is it to play someone with the IQ of a squeezable ketchup bottle? – If the person you are playing has the mental ability of a four year old is it really that hard to play that role? Please, I can run around screaming and beating my head if the toaster burns my waffles, it isn’t that hard.
2) No reviewer has the balls to say something negative about you playing someone with a mental disability- Leonard Maltin will not criticize you playing someone with Downs like he would someone that is giving a shitty British accent. It’s like actors get a free pass even though there have been some pretty piss poor performances, did anyone see “Riding the Bus with My Sister”?
Playing someone that is developmentally disabled isn’t an acting challenge or a brave turn, it is taking the safe route. You pull on some heart strings and get to put in a half-assed performance, what isn’t to love about that role? However the free pass ends here, as I rate three different performances of actors playing developmentally disabled people.
Leonardo DiCaprio in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”
DiCaprio gives a performance that when you watch it again makes up for the fact that he made “The Beach”. If you haven’t seen this movie you really should take the time out to view it because DiCaprio gives such a nuanced performance, it’s nice to be reminded once and awhile that some people have talent in Hollywood.
Cuba Gooding Jr. in “Boat Trip”
Just a horrible performance, in fact I couldn’t figure out who was more retarded him or Horatio Sanz… wait he wasn’t developmentally disabled in this? It was “Radio”? Well that movie sucked too.
THE JUST PLAIN GOD AWFUL
Chris Burke on the TV show “Life Goes On”
Worst performance ever……… I couldn’t even believe him for one second.
Who else do you think has given good or awful performances of the developmentally disabled?
Also do you think it is an acting break through or really a safe role?