R.J. Mitte Talks New Film ‘Who’s Driving Doug’ — Exclusive
If you ask R.J. Mitte, there’s a problem with the way we view people with disabilities.
The former Breaking Bad actor, whose new movie, Who’s Driving Doug, is out now, spoke to Wetpaint about why there’s a lack of movies about people who face mental and physical challenges and how his new role is filling the gap.
“They’re out there and they want to be made,” R.J. told us, noting there are projects but they don’t usually make it to the public. “I think it’s important that we tell these stories.”
In Who’s Driving Doug, R.J. plays the title character, a college student with muscular dystrophy who, along with his new driver Scott (Ray William Johnson) and his crush Stephanie (Paloma Kwiatkowski) sets out on a spontaneous road trip to Las Vegas.
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“Doug, yes, has disabilities. Yes, he’s confined to a chair. But does that make him disabled? No,” the 23-year-old actor said. “If you look at the movie and you see how it transpires, his disability is not what this story is about, his disability is a side note that affects the story.”
“And I think that’s what we need to portray in the media is it’s not about a disability, it’s about the journey” he continued. “The disability may change some things, it may add some drama, but at the end of the day it’s about the journey and learning and growing.”
R.J. revealed the script “kinda put me off” and he “wasn’t sure if I was right for it,” but after realizing the direction the writer and director wanted to take in terms of storytelling, he was all for it.
At the end of the day though, the Louisiana native noted his mild cerebral palsy was worlds apart from muscular dystrophy.
“This kind of story, you have to be very careful,” R.J. continued. “I don’t know what it’s like to have muscular dystrophy. This, to me, is essentially an able-bodied person in a disabled role. In the grand scheme of things it’s the same thing. I just have a different disability.”
With Doug confined to a motorized chair, R.J. said he spent as much time in a similar situation to get into character, trying to “live in the chair” to connect to who he was playing.
“When you have something that’s a crutch or chair or a removable leg or arm, essentially what happens is you stop noticing, you stop caring, and it’s a part of you,” he added. “It’s an extension of who you are. I think the most important thing is taking that and making it come to life. That’s what I tried to do with this role.”
Who’s Driving Doug hits theaters and on-demand services today, February 26.