Something you may not realize is the character with autism was played by an actor with autism. Locke and Key made the right decision casting Coby Bird.
When you see a character with a type of disability on the screen, it’s common to believe that it’s an actor pretending to have the condition. We just have to look at The Good Doctor to see how an able-bodied actor plays the role of a character with autism. That wasn’t the case for Locke and Key.
Rufus Whedon stole our hearts throughout the season. He was kind and generous, but it was clear he needed someone to look out for him. That someone was Ellie, who had adopted him to make sure he had a good life. It would have been easy for the show to cast a good actor to take on the role regardless of disability. Instead, Locke and Key opted for an actor with autism.
One of the things that I enjoyed was that Rufus’s storyline wasn’t included for the sake of inclusivity. He was given a real storyline, the autism was used as a way to show why Ellie was so protective of her son. It added a new layer to this family dynamic.
Bringing an actor without autism would have made the storyline more of a gimmick than anything else. By casting Coby Bird, it brought the character to life and made him feel like a real part of the story. This wasn’t done for the sake of making him different but instead brought awareness.
More and more people are finally being diagnosed with the mental disabilities they have because there is more awareness and support. This can help to continue that while showing that having autism (or any disability) doesn’t stop someone from living a full life; it doesn’t stop someone from following their dreams.
The casting for Locke and Key was inclusive throughout, and it didn’t feel like it was done to be “woke.” It felt real; like we’d get to see all these different characters just by being in this school or in this town.
It’s time for more TV shows and movies to do this. I understand with shows like Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector when an able-bodied actor has to be cast. There are flashbacks that show the story before the injury happened.
However, part of me was disappointed with The Good Doctor for not casting an actor with autism in the lead role. As much as I love Freddie Highmore and it is an actor’s job to play types of roles, the show missed an opportunity to raise real awareness. By the way, Bird was in an episode of this and there was huge praise for him. It’s no wonder that it led to Locke and Key.
It is time to be more inclusive when it comes to offering jobs to actors. Locke and Key did a good job doing that.