When the SAG-AFTRA strike began way back in July, Hollywood know-it-alls predicted that serious negotiations wouldn’t begin until well into autumn, when the studios started running out of inventory. They were spot-on: Last week, the union board signed off on a new deal that included concessions the industry had refused to discuss for most of the 118-day work stoppage. The settlement doesn’t appear to have any provisions to expand inclusive casting for actors with disabilities, an area where the industry continues to fall glaringly short. Overall, though, it’s being hailed as a pretty big win for the union.
The agreement freed performers from the moratorium on promoting their work—and so, within a few hours, we learned about a handful of new movies and TV series that feature amputee actors. Some of these productions are already streaming and immediately available for viewing; one debuts in theaters this weekend, and another (a pilot for a proposed series) is currently out there on the film-fest circuit in search of a buyer.
So, just in time for the prime viewing time of Thanksgiving and the holiday season, here are five projects that are worth your attention.
Premise: This action-comedy series, based on the classic PlayStation game, follows a motor-mouthed outsider as he attempts to deliver a mysterious package across a post-apocalyptic wasteland. With the help of a badass axe-wielding car thief, the driver faces savage marauders on the open road, including a deranged clown driving an ice-cream truck.
Amputee actor: Angel Giuffria appears in three episodes as Tinker. A veteran of multiple commercials, movies, and TV projects, Giuffria co-wrote and co-starred in one of our favorite entries in this year’s Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.
She said it: “Tinker is such a bad ass (also a nerd). 3 things about Tinker: never can have enough screwdrivers on her, anything is a weapon, & Tinker loves Amber & Watts 4ever!!!” Read more at Giuffria’s Instagram page.
How to watch: Stream it on Peacock
Survival of the Thickest
Premise: After a devastating breakup, a plus-size NYC stylist with fashion-world aspirations decides to live her messy single life on her own terms. She does battle with her ex, her own professional missteps, and her dating highs and lows. But nothing’s going to stop her from becoming a boss bitch.
Amputee actor: Anthony Michael Lopez appears in four episodes as Bruce, the personal assistant to a former supermodel named Natasha. Earlier this year Lopez appeared as Sir Dinidan in the well-received revival of Camelot, becoming just the third amputee ever to perform on Broadway.
He said it: “Everybody knows what it’s like to be underestimated. It’s not just a niche experience. Everyone knows what it’s like to be injured or what it’s like to be sick. As disabled people, maybe we just have more daily experience with those things. Maybe we’re just more familiar with them than the nondisabled.” Read more at Amplitude.
How to watch: Stream it on Netflix
Premise: A cranky history teacher at a New England prep school is forced to remain on campus over the holidays with a troubled student named Angus. The two of them and the school’s cook, who recently lost her son in Vietnam, form an unlikely Christmas family sharing comic misadventures during two very snowy weeks of winter vacation.
Amputee actor: Dan Aid makes his big-screen debut in a small role as Kenneth, a wounded Vietnam veteran. An accomplished songwriter and former guitarist for Authority Zero, Aid most recently appeared in the NBC sitcom Good Girls.
He said it: “I don’t think it’s an accident that I got more into performing after I lost my arm. You’re seeking acceptance. You’re asking, ‘If I put my body in front of people, will I be accepted or loved? What’s gonna happen if I show people this body?’” Read more at Amplitude.
How to watch: Now in theaters.
Premise: A small-time Nashville musician struggles to balance his career aspirations with the demands (and rewards) of family life.
Amputee actor: Alone among the performers on this list, Savannah Welch already had a well-established acting career when she became an amputee. The Morse Code project is near and dear to Welch’s heart; she has released two alt-country albums as a member of The Trishas.
She said it: “It’s easy to believe you’re [only] worthy of crumbs from the fat cats holding the proverbial loaf of power and profit. . . . I am grateful beyond measure for every opportunity I’ve been given, but conditioning is sneaky and can run the show UNTIL someone else comes along and shows you what worthiness, value and equality can actually look like.” Read more at Welch’s Instagram page.
How to watch: Morse Code has been screened at multiple film festivals this year but hasn’t found a distributor yet.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Premise: You really need us to explain the premise of The Hunger Games? Come on, now.
Amputee actor: Knox Gibson, who graces the cover of Amplitude‘s current print edition, plays District 8 tribute Bobbin in his first full-length feature role. He was on the red carpet for the movie’s London premiere last weekend, just hours after the strike settlement was announced.
He said it: “Australia is definitely not as far advanced [in disability representation] as, say, the USA. One of the worst things is that people still tend to feel sorry for you if you have a disability. There will always be people out there who don’t know anything about disability and really don’t understand certain things. If we can keep working at [education], we’ll get there eventually.” Read more at Amplitude.
How to watch: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes premieres in US theaters this weekend.