James says disabled actors should play disabled roles

Lennie James
Lennie James Image credit:

Line of Duty and Fear the Walking Dead star Lennie James has called for more “conversation” for disabled characters to be played by actors with a disability.

He said there should be a debate “in areas where the authenticity has been underserved".

James told the BBC: "Where gay actors have not been given the opportunity to play gay parts, or disabled actors have not even been considered for the opportunity to play disabled parts, in that situation then I would 100% be part of the conversation of saying, why not? That absolutely should change."

He added casting an actor for any role should be "on a case by case basis. I don't believe in blanket statements... because then the role of the actor slightly changes and is slightly different to the one I hope and pray that it is".

James echo those made by Marlee Matlin, who was the only actor with hearing loss who won an Oscar for her part in  the 1986 drama Children of a Lesser God.

Matlin told The Guardian last year: "Enough is enough. Deaf is not a costume. It's not authentic and insults the community that you're portraying. Because we exist, we deaf actors."

Lennie James is starring in the stage play A Number at The Old Vic, London from 24 January until 19 March.