'The Peanut Butter Falcon' Stars Zachary Gottsagen, an Actor With Down Syndrome
“The Peanut Butter Falcon” tells the story of a young man with Down syndrome named Zak, who runs away from a nursing home to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional wrestler. Tyler, a small-time outlaw, played by Shia LaBeouf, becomes Zak’s coach and ally as they make their way to a school for wrestlers. The film will also star Dakota Johnson and Bruce Dern.
The role of Zak was inspired by Gottsagen, who met the film’s writers, Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, while they were working at a non-profit arts organization. Gottsagen previously appeared in “Bulletproof,” a 2012 short film about saving a family business, as well as “Becoming Bulletproof,” a 2014 documentary about the film and the importance of casting actors with disabilities.
“I work and make films with Down syndrome actors. Many of them struggle to maintain a regular life, not because of their disabilities, but because of others disbelief in their talents,” Nilson said in a statement, adding:
I have had many friends with Downs placed in old age homes because of lack of proper care. I know how beautiful freedom is, and I know what it feels like to be locked away as well. I am grateful I know that freedom in the outdoors and my heart aches for my friends with Down syndrome who touch only linoleum floors and plastic all day. I am not making this film for them. However, I am making it for the people who believe it is ok to dismiss them and lock them away. Prejudice towards Down syndrome is costing a lot of young people good years of their lives. Everyone should know what it feels like to go a little wild, even if you’ve got an extra copy of chromosome 21.
“The Peanut Butter Falcon” is scheduled for release in 2017.
The Mighty has reached out to Lucky Treehouse for a comment and has yet to hear back.