This past week, we released an infographic highlighting pop-culture characters that use wheelchairs.
These characters often serve as a great representation of the wheelchair-using community. Unfortunately, when it comes to portraying them in film or on television, the characters are typically played by able-bodied actors.
For actors with disabilities, the opportunities to portray their real life circumstances are few and far between. There are, however, a few notable exceptions.
And one of those exceptions happens to be in what many critics consider the “greatest show of all time”. Yes, we’re talking about Breaking Bad.
Crafting a Masterpiece
Created by former X-Files writer Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad tells the story of a high school chemistry teacher named Walter White who begins manufacturing and selling meth in order to secure his family before he dies.
The premise might seem a little out there, but during it’s five season run, Breaking Bad was hailed as one of the best written dramas of all time. In fact, it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest rated TV show ever.
What makes it so great? Just about everything. That includes the writing, the filming, and of course, the acting. Among the talented cast, there’s one actor in particular who draws from personal experience to play his part.
RJ Mitte plays the main character’s son, “Walter Flynne White Jr.”. While his dad might not have any ties to methamphetamines, RJ does have something in common with his character.
They both have cerebral palsy.
Mixing Fact and Fiction
Like most people who have cerebral palsy, Roy Frank “RJ” Mitte III was born with it. At the age of 13, he moved to Hollywood and began his journey to become an actor. But RJ didn’t want to play “traditional” roles. He and his manager specifically sought out opportunities where his disability could be represented.
RJ saw acting as an opportunity to raise awareness and educate audiences about cerebral palsy.
Success came surprisingly quick. Two years later, he was playing Walter White Jr. in Breaking Bad. Interestingly enough, the character was actually written as having cerebral palsy before Mitte was ever cast.
Over the course of the show’s five seasons, RJ received praise both from press and from fellow cast members for his great work. Though both the actor and the character have cerebral palsy, the character’s condition is a bit more severe.
Now that Breaking Bad has ended, RJ Mitte is still acting and will be appearing in the third season of the show Switched at Birth. In addition to acting, RJ is branching out into producing.
He also continues to act as a spokesman for actors with disabilities.
About Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive condition that affects motor functions and body movement. There are varying degrees of severity when it comes to cerebral palsy. While some such as RJ Mitte can walk around without assistance, others use crutches or a wheelchair.
Rollx Vans, a leading distributor of new and used wheelchair vans, partners with the organization United Cerebral Palsy to help raise awareness and funding for medical research.
To learn more about cerebral palsy, click here. If you would like to watch RJ Mitte behind the scenes of Breaking Bad, click the video below!
Do you watch Breaking Bad? Are you sad it’s over? Did you know RJ Mitte actually had cerebral palsy?