‘The Upside’ Director on ‘Intense’ Bryan Cranston Performance and Being ‘Truthful’ to Disabled Character

“It’s something that we wrestle with. In a way, we really do the best job that we can to do our homework and research,” Neil Burger tells TheWrap

“The Upside” director Neil Burger described a scene early in the film in which Bryan Cranston, portraying a quadriplegic man, nearly topples out of his wheelchair. It’s played for a laugh at Kevin Hart’s expense, but Burger said that Cranston was so committed to the role, he might’ve hurt himself if Hart wasn’t there to catch him.

“Bryan is such an intense actor, if he started to fall over, and there’s a scene where he does start to fall out of the chair, if they hadn’t gotten to him, he wouldn’t have protected himself,” Burger said in an interview with TheWrap. “He would have just fallen on his face just the way someone with a similar disability would have. He was all in in that way.”

Cranston already has a challenge in the film in trying to be expressive using only from his neck up on his body. But more subtly, he thought about the appropriate and authentic way to hold his body while placed in the wheelchair.

“What’s the big deal? He’s sitting down. But actually, he’s not able to move at all, so are you then clenching your muscles to not move, or are you just relaxed, or are you basically not activating any of your muscles, which is a very tricky thing to do if you sat down and tried to do it,” Burger said. “He’s lucky he’s able-bodied and can do it. That was the interesting thing to see how he holds himself. I think he found he just needed to relax everything