Marlee Matlin Stars In New Indie Film
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 4, 2004
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA--Is this finally it?
For years moviegoers in the disability community have lamented the fact that so many movie characters with disabilities are often portrayed by actors without disabilities. Equally frustrating has been the fact that few actors with disabilities are brought in to play characters where disability is not a central part of the story line.
That may finally be changing.
Marlee Matlin, arguably Hollywood's most famous deaf actor, is starring in a new independent feature film that deals with, literally, the power of positive thinking.
In "What the #$*! Do We Know!?", also referred to as "What the Bleep Do We Know!?", the Academy Award-winning actress plays the lead character, Amanda, a photographer who is bored with her life.
Through a series of misadventures, she undergoes a spiritual transformation in which she is able to understand the reality which is behind what we cannot see -- a blending of quantum physics and metaphysics.
The film's official website notes that Matlin, 39, was not selected to play the part because she is deaf. In fact, her character was not created as a deaf woman.
"Ms. Matlin became interested in portraying Amanda after reading the script. The script had been written with the emphasis on showing the dramatic part of the story, more than explaining it in clever dialogue," the website explains. "However, in modifying the script, we saw that Marlees deafness does suggest the question: 'What slices of reality are WE deaf to?'"
"It's important to have a form for deaf actors, directors and filmmakers and to have a place where they can show off their craft in this business," Matlin told ABC7Chicago's disability issues reporter Karen Meyer.
Matlin won the 1987 Oscar for her film debut in "Children of a Lesser God."
From 2000 to 2002, she played Josephine "Joey" Lucas on the NBC-TV series "The West Wing", a character whose deafness was incidental to the role.
[Editor's note: The website notes that the film, now in limited release, will not be captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers, until it comes out later on DVD. -- Dave]