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Run is an edge-of-your-seat ride that gives Sarah Paulson another great genre role. But more memorably, it sets the stage for 22-year-old Kiera Allen, who gets to take the lead in her first movie ever. The filmmakers behind the movie that has become the most-watched Hulu original feature to date, decided to take the opportunity to seek out disabled actors for the role of Chloe Sherman, a wheelchair user with heavy dependence on her mother Diane (played by Paulson).
Actress Kiera Allen is a wheelchair user who has now become one of the few disabled actors to play one on film with Run. Before the new talent nabbed the role, the movie’s co-writer and producer, Sev Ohanian, recalled the lengths some took to get a co-star credit with American Horror Story horror queen Sarah Paulson. In his words:
There were a couple of young ladies we saw that submitted themselves as people with disabilities. And we were like, wow, they’re really talented… but somebody looked them up on Instagram. There were videos of them walking on the beach from like, two hours ago.
Yikes! As Sev Ohanian told MovieMaker, before they found Kiera Allen, they came across two actors who actually pretended to be disabled for the audition in order to get the role. But thanks to social media screenings, they were not fooled for too long and ended up finding the perfect choice in Allen. I wish I could say I’m surprised here, but I’d imagine a lot of budding actors would go to great lengths to star in this major role, and next to one of the most talented and charismatic actors out there as your mother no less.
Even so, stories like this defeat the purpose of what a movie like Run can do for the disabled community. One in four U.S. adults have a disability that impacts major life activities, per the CDC. Yet in countless Hollywood movies about them in the past, able-bodied actors have been given these roles or it’s been improperly represented on screen. If you’ve seen Run, you know Kiera Allen has somewhat of a labor intensive role in the film, and yet she was able to perform these activities safely as a real wheelchair user. Allen recently talked to Harper’s Bazaar about her experience with the filmmakers:
I feel very lucky. The timing was right. They wanted authenticity. They cared very much about the authenticity of this story, in the writing of it as well. They did a lot of research. They spoke to a lot of people at universities about disability and listened to me when we were on set about my perspective, my experience. They cared very much about having a movie that was truthful to this character… From the first time I read it when I was in the audition process, I emailed Aneesh and said, ‘Whatever happens with this role, whether I'm right for it or not, I'm so excited to see this film because this is one of the best representations of a disabled character I've ever, ever seen.’
Now look at that, Run made an impact on Kiera Allen before she had even been cast in the part. The movie definitely comes off as authentic despite its wild concept all thanks to some attention-to-detail from the filmmakers. Run was originally going to come to theaters back in spring pre-pandemic, but was swooped up by Hulu over the summer for straight-to-streaming. Stephen King even gave the movie his stamp of approval after its huge debut weekend. You can check out Run on Hulu now.