Champions Director Recalls Auditioning ‘Hundreds’ Of Actors With Disabilities Who Had Never Received Opportunities In Hollywood Prior
It's time to champion more diversity on the big screen.
In recent years, Hollywood has been having a larger conversation about what needs to change when it comes to representation of minorities from all walks of life. There has certainly been a lot of moves in the right direction, such as the 2023 Academy Awards honoring Everything Everywhere All At Once over the weekend, a movie especially important to the Asian-American community. Another example is 2022 being a big year for Native American diversity on television. There are so many facets of diversity to be explored, including for segments of the disabled community, which is in the forefront of the basketball comedy Champions.
The 2023 new movie release is a remake of the Spanish movie with the same name and premise. Champions revolves around a minor-league basketball coach, in this case played by Woody Harrelson, who gets kicked out of his job and finds himself doing community service for a local basketball team made up of people with disabilities. When CinemaBlend spoke to the movie’s director, Bobby Farrelly, he shared the process of representing people with a range of developmental disabilities in the movie. In his words:
It’s incredible to see a movie like Champions casting numerous actors who happen to have disabilities with authentic roles that showcase more representation on the big screen. But, as the director shared, so many of the “hundreds” of actors they auditioned had never booked a job prior to Champions coming along. Farrelly shared a fun story while explaining the audition process further. As he continued:
Release Date: March 10, 2023 (Theaters)
Directed By: Bobby Farrelly
Written By: Mark Rizzo
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Kaitlin Olson, Matt Cook, Ernie Hudson, Cheech Marin, Madison Tevlin, Joshua Felder, Kevin Iannucci, Ashton Gunning, Matt Cook, Matthew Von Der Ahe, Tom Sinclair, Alex Hintz, Casey Matcalfe, Bradley Edens and James Day Keith
Casey Metcalfe plays Marlon in Champions, and is part of the team of basketball players called “The Friends” Woody Harrelson’s character coaches in the film. Metcalfe, who has autism, is among many who found their first movie credit with Champions despite a long history as an actor. Metcalfe began acting with a troupe called Actors for Autism back in 2004 in Los Angeles and was featured in the 2009 documentary Kids With Cameras.
Metcalfe shared with his local news outlet Seven Days in a recent interview that he believes Champions is a “giant step forward for the developmentally disabled community” and shared his belief that it’s “society” that makes him and others feel not included. He hopes the movie will be a “turning point” for the community.
In recent years, we are seeing more storylines around people with autism in particular have stereotypes challenged, including the Netflix dating show Love On The Spectrum. It’s great to see Champions also do so for big screen audiences. Champions is now playing in theaters, and you can check out our interview with Woody Harrelson about the movie as well here on CinemaBlend.
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