Top 5 Film Characters That Use a Wheelchair

When it comes to the movies and characters that use wheelchairs, it is a big hit-or-miss situation. There are some very terrible roles that we dare not mention here, and then there are amazing roles that need to be celebrated. Below you will find what we feel are the top 5 characters on film that have used wheelchairs.


5. “Roland” in Saved!


Played by Macaulay Culkin in 2004, the character of “Roland” has a cult-like following by many fans. He plays a teenager who is a paraplegic, injured as a young boy. It is a dark comedy with his sister is played by Mandy Moore, who is sensational as the annoying cheerleader Jesus-lover. The contrast of her with her brother Roland, who is an angry teenager with no interest in God, is not only great when it comes to comedy, but is a fantastic real-life look at what life with a spinal cord injury is really like in many families.  


And there is a romantic entanglement that Roland finds himself in, showing him in a sexual light, which is rare for any character that uses a wheelchair on film.


4. “John Callahan” in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot


Played by Joaquin Phoenix in 2018, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is a biopic about the talented quadriplegic cartoonist, John Callahan, who passed away from bedsore complications in 2010. The name of the movie is the same name as the autobiography by Callahan. Known for his dark sense of humor about life in a wheelchair, he displayed it beautifully in his work. 


The movie shows his life in Southern California before and after his injury, and how he discovered drawing after he was paralyzed in a car accident at 21. Phoenix, although not paralyzed himself, studied how to live and move like a C5 quadriplegic by going to Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center. His performance was fully accepted by the disability community, and the film itself got good reviews thanks to not being you're of cliche inspirational biopic.


3. “Philip Lacasse” in The Upside


The Upside (released in 2017) follows the life of "Philip,” played by Bryan Cranston, a rich Frenchman injured on vacation. The film shows his life after his injury and also stars Kevin Hart as his caregiver. It is his first time as a caregiver and the film follows the unlikely friendship between these two men. It is based on a true story.


This film shows the amazing relationships that can happen after a spinal cord injury. Although the role was not played by someone who uses a wheelchair, Cranston did a decent job of playing a man who cannot move anything from the neck down, which is not an easy thing to do.


2 – “Izzi” in Christmas Ever After


Played by Ali Stroker in 2020, the role of “Izzi” in Christmas Ever After, a Hallmark movie, is a first. Stroker has been a paraplegic since the age of 5 and is the only role on our list that is played by a person who actually uses a wheelchair. Christmas Ever After is your typical Hallmark movie at Christmastime and is centered around Izzi where she meets and falls in love with a handsome man who looks like one of the characters in her books.


This is the only nationwide full-release movie to feature a female character who uses a wheelchair in the lead/starring role, making Izzi one of those characters you'll never forget. Ali did a fantastic job, bringing her Tony Award-winning chops in a big way to this role.


1. “Professor X” in X-Men


By far the most well-known character on our list, "Professor X" (for Xavier), is another character that uses a wheelchair. He’s been featured in several X-Men films. Portrayed by Patrick Stewart, Professor X is a powerful character and is considered the founder of the X-Men, and is even sometimes portrayed as their leader.  


Professor X is a paraplegic, which makes this role all the more cool as people with disabilities are not usually given such top-level roles in a story. Since this character is derived from the comic world explains why the back story of Professor X is so in-depth and has a powerful role. 


Topics: Wheelchair, Top 5 Film Characters That Use a Wheelchair, “Roland” in Saved!, John Callahan, “Philip Lacasse” in The Upside, “Izzi” in Christmas Ever After, “Professor X” in X-Men, Mandy Moore, cheerleader Jesus, Roland, biopic, quadriplegic cartoonist

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