How ‘Speechless’ Creator Got to Tell His Deeply Personal Story After 20 Years

TCA 2016: Scott Silveri credits star Micah Fowler with bringing his ABC series to the small screen

Last Updated: August 4, 2016 @ 12:37 PM

“Speechless” creator Scott Silveri sang the praises of star Micah Fowler at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour on Thursday.

From the moment they saw his tape, Silveri said, they knew that Fowler, who made his acting debut in 2013’s “Labor Day,” was the right actor for the part as the J.J. DiMeo.

“He just lit up the screen,” he said. “He was so effortlessly funny and endearing. He gave us everything we were looking for.”

The ABC sitcom’s premise was drawn from Silveri’s real-life experience growing up with a brother with special needs.

On Thursday the executive producer explained how this gave him the ability to create what is, at its core, a comedy about a family whose son has special needs that also avoids becoming an “issues show” or an after-school special.

“This is a story that I’ve been wanting to tell for 20 years,” Silveri said. “Without Micah’s spirit and his performance and his energy, we don’t get a chance to do that.”

“I always wanted to be an actor. Deep inside, I always wanted to perform,” Fowler said.

The actor, who has cerebral palsy in real life, added that he likes that his on-screen counterpart “has a lot of personality to him.”

The show, which also stars Minnie Driver and John Ross Bowie as J.J.’s parents and Mason Cook and Kyla Kenedy as his siblings, was one of several shows the network presented to critics, alongside Hayley Atwell‘s “Conviction,” Kiefer Sutherland‘s TV return “Designated Survivor,” “American Housewife” and “Notorious.”

Fowler charmed critics in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton with his answers, quipping, “My favorite comedy is this show.”