Everyone’s buzzing about “A Quiet Place,” a new horror film about a family that must remain silent in a post-apocalyptic society in which blind, sound-tracking monsters act as predators. John Krasinski co-wrote, directed and acted in the movie alongside real-life wife Emily Blunt.
One of the characters, Regan, is deaf, and Krasinski felt it was very important that she be portrayed by a deaf actress, which he accomplished by casting Millicent Simmonds, who lost her hearing as a baby.
“We always had a deaf character in the script, but John really pushed for them to hire Millicent,” the film’s co-writer, Scott Beck, told The Hollywood Reporter. “She came to set and taught everyone sign language. It was really amazing and brought an extra depth to the film.”
Not only does Simmonds’s casting lend more authenticity to the movie, it’s also an important move for highlighting the importance of inclusion in the entertainment industry, which has been criticized for its lack of performers who have disabilities.
Simmonds, who garnered praise for her breakout role as a deaf character in 2017’s “Wonderstruck,” has previously spoken out about the necessity for representation in film. “I want to see more deaf people have the opportunity to become actors,” the actress told People magazine in October 2017. “And I want [hearing people] to know that it’s okay to learn [American Sign Language].”
Despite a growing movement for diversity and authenticity in Hollywood, a recent report issued by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA showed that women and minorities remained disproportionately represented in most areas of the entertainment industry. The report states that the nation was comprised of nearly 40 percent minorities in 2016, and that proportion is expected to grow in the coming years. The lack of minorities extends beyond on-camera roles to film directors, film writers and show creators.
In 1987, Marlee Matlin, an actress who’s also deaf, won the Academy Award for best actress for her work in “Children of a Lesser God.” To this day, she’s still the only deaf — or disabled — actor to have won an Oscar. Matlin’s success has not lead to a sharp rise in Hollywood’s inclusion of deaf performers, but it may have helped pave the way for Simmonds’s inclusion.
“A Quiet Place” has already been a huge success, financially. It opened at No. 1 last weekend at the box office, collecting more than $50 million on top of a $17 million budget.
Here’s hoping that the trend toward inclusivity and proper representation is one that continues!