Archive for June, 2010

Avatar: Wheelchair Bound Worthington

June 14, 2010

I watched Avatar the other night. What a fantastic film!

I’d heard a lot about the film, especially regarding the casting of Sam Worthington as Jake Sully, who uses a wheelchair due to a spine injury he acquired whilst serving for the military. Worthington however is not a wheelchair user.

The character of Sully is strong, opinionated and clumsy at times. The film highlights the fact that Sully is not a disabled character; he is a character who has a disability. I love the fact that James Cameron has created a lead, in this epic film, who challenges peoples views on people with disabilities. From the moment we see Jake, grieving the loss of his brother and going on a trip which many would say is out of reach for him, the audience loves him. His quiet nature and good looks win over the other character in the film as well.

Camerons reasons for not casting a disabled actor in this part was that he did not feel that disabled actors were up to standard. Another reason, this one being a bit more understandable, is that when Jake is in his Avatar body, he is able to walk. Cameron used CGI to create Pandora (the planet on which the film is set) and the Avatars. He would not have been able to film these CGI sections with an actor playing Sully who is unable to walk. This, I feel, justifies his casting.

I understand peoples feelings towards the casting of yet another able bodied actor as a disabled character however I think Worthington did a fantastic job and Cameron made the correct decision. Neither of them overplayed the disability and Worthington seemed natural and at ease in his chair. This is not to say that they glamorised his disability, in fact Worthingtons legs did not look like the legs of an able bodied man, they were thin and pale, the way my legs look; although mine aren’t as hairy as Worthingtons .

I am, however, against people saying that action figurines created, of Worthingtons character, with his wheelchair included should not be called an action hero as the wheelchair makes the character look weak. This is a load of crap. Jake Sully is a good role model, wheelchair included. If that offends people so much then I suggest that they buy an alternate action figure.

Hopefully the incorporation of disabled characters in lead roles will lead to casting of disabled actors in the future. I hope that this character and amazing film changes at least a few peoples views on disability.

Ali x

P.S. I love Sam Worthington, he’s Australian, enough said.