Bryan Cranston Calls Playing Disabled Character in ‘The Upside’ a ‘Case of Catch-22’

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Brian Welk
STX/Lantern Entertainment’s “The Upside” is turning out to be the first big surprise of the 2019 box office. After grossing just under $7 million on its opening day from 3,080 screens, the Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart comedy is now projected for a $19.5 million opening, topping a fourth weekend “Aquaman” to take the top spot on the charts. If this result holds, it will be the first STX release ever to open at No. 1, and will be the second-highest opening in studio history behind “Bad Moms,” which opened at No. 3 to $23.8 million in July 2016. “The Upside” wasn’t even on STX’s slate until five months ago, when the studio struck a distribution deal with Lantern to release the film. Lantern Entertainment is a new company formed by Lantern Capital from the assets bought from The Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy. TWC had originally been set to release “The Upside” last year, but the release was postponed following the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Also Read: 'The Upside' Director on 'Intense' Bryan Cranston Performance and Being 'Truthful' to Disabled Character In STX’s hands, the film was recut with director Neil Burger to earn a rating change from R to PG-13. That move has paid off as a wider audience has given the film an A on CinemaScore, even as critics have given it a 39 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. “Aquaman” takes second this weekend with $15 million, a total that would push its domestic cume to $286 million. In third is Columbia Pictures’ “A Dog’s Way Home,” which is performing slightly above tracker expectations with $3.2 million grossed on Friday from 3,090 screens, with estimates now projecting an $11 million opening. The family film has earned a solid reception with an A- on CinemaScore and a 61 percent RT score. Also Read: 'The Upside' Film Review: Kevin Hart Is a Prop for Bryan Cranston's Growth in Treacly Remake Sony will also complete the top five with their horror film “Escape Room,” which is projected to drop 54 percent to an $8.4 million second weekend, and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which is approaching $150 million domestic after adding $8 million in its fifth weekend. Outside the top five, Focus Features’ “On the Basis of Sex” expanded nationwide to 1,923 screens and is currently estimated to make $6.5 million this weekend, tying it for sixth on the charts with “Mary Poppins Returns,” which will hit $150 million domestic this weekend. Outside the top ten is Entertainment Studios’ “Replicas,” which is bombing hard with an estimated opening of just $2.4 million from 2,329 screens, the worst wide opening ever for lead star Keanu Reeves. The film has a C on CinemaScore and a 9 percent RT score. Read original story ‘The Upside’ Poised to Become STX’s First No. 1 Box Office Hit At TheWrap
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Bryan Cranston has weighed in on a long-running debate in the film industry about representation on screen, responding to a question about whether able-bodied actors should play disabled individuals in films and TV.

Cranston, who plays a quadriplegic in “The Upside” opposite Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman opening this weekend, defended his casting to the British Press Association.

“As actors we’re asked to play other people,” Cranston said via the BBC. “If I, as a straight, older person, and I’m wealthy, I’m very fortunate, does that mean I can’t play a person who is not wealthy, does that mean I can’t play a homosexual?”

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Cranston said his casting came down to a “business decision” and that playing the part was ultimately a “case of catch-22.”

“We live in the world of criticism, if we’re willing to get up and try something, we have to also be willing to take criticism. We’re very aware of the need to expand the opportunities for people with disabilities,” Cranston continued, according to Sky News. “I don’t know, where does the restriction apply, where is the line for that?”

In recent months, actors like Jake Gyllenhaal, Dwayne Johnson and Joaquin Phoenix have also portrayed disabled characters on screen, in some cases facing outcry and in others kicking off a larger debate over whether only actors who identify a certain way should be allowed to play certain characters.

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This issue has been extended to sexuality and race on screen. “American Crime Story” star Darren Criss, a straight actor, recently said he would no longer accept LGBT roles because he does not want to deprive gay actors such parts. Scarlett Johansson also faced backlash when it was revealed she would be portraying a transgender man in the film “Rub & Tug,” causing her to exit the project.

Ben Whishaw was similarly asked about the debate at the Golden Globes after winning his award for “A Very English Scandal.”

“I really believe that actors can embody and portray anything and we shouldn’t be defined only by what we are,” Whishaw said backstage at the Golden Globes. “I would like to see more gay actors playing straight roles.”

Read original story Bryan Cranston Calls Playing Disabled Character in ‘The Upside’ a ‘Case of Catch-22’ At TheWrap