Zack Gottsagen has dreamed of becoming a Hollywood star for a long time, having the star role in a recent movie, this dream may become a reality for the actor with Down’s syndrome.
The Peanut Butter Falcon
Released in the US back in August of this year, the Peanut Butter Falcon is a modern Mark Twain adventure story. The movie tells the story of Zak (Gottsagen) a young man with Down’s syndrome who dreams of attending the professional wrestling school of his idol, The Saltwater Redneck (Thomas Haden Church). He runs away from his residential home and in an unusual turn of events, meets Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) a small-time outlaw who becomes Zak’s coach and ally.
The newly formed team wind through deltas, drink whisky, elude capture, catch fish and manage to convince Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), an employee of the nursing home to join them on their adventure.
Who is Zack Gottsagen?
Acting since the age of 3, Zack Gottsagen is a 34-year-old actor from Florida. In 2004 he graduated from the Dreyfoos School of the Arts as a theatre major, the first child with Down’s syndrome to do so after being included in the Palm Beach County School district.
Since graduating, Zack’s been involved in numerous theatre productions at the Royal Palm Playhouse and was selected to star in non-profit movies such as Bulletproof, Life of a Dollar Bill and Burning Like a Fire.
It wasn’t until 2011 that Zack realised his dream of becoming a movie star, with the help of director Tyler Nilson after meeting him at a disability camp. Tyler, along with writer Michael Schwartz, created The Peanut Butter Falcon for Zach
Challenges and Successes
Securing funding for the movie was harder than first thought, having a disabled actor worked against them, so many companies were reluctant to have Zack as the lead role. They believed the film wouldn’t be marketable because of Zack’s disability and cinemas wouldn’t pick it up.
Some companies were offering a larger amount of money for Zack to be replaced by a non-disabled actor but the creators stood by him and were determined to film it with Zack.
After much struggle, the filming went ahead and after just 2 months, it has generated $19million at the box office (source: themighty.com). Creators Typer and Michael have already won several awards at various film festivals, such as the Nantucket Film Festival and the SXSW Film Festival.
With such promise, Zack has been tipped for Oscar Glory.