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Kit Harington helps Line of Duty’s Tommy Jessop’s bid for groundbreaking Hollywood role

Line of Duty actor Tommy Jessop and his brother called on the likes of Game of Thrones star Kit Harington and Scream icon Neve Campbell amid their bid to make a groundbreaking Hollywood movie

When it comes to breaking America, the streets are littered with the broken dreams and severely dented egos of many a British actor.

So the thought of a pair of brothers turning up in Los Angeles with a hand-held camera and the hope of making the first Down syndrome superhero film seems unlikely to succeed. But then again when one of those brothers is Line of Duty star Tommy Jessop, who shot to fame in the show as murder suspect Terry Boyle, determination and a tendency to beat the odds is something he has in spades.

Soon 38-year-old Tommy and his brother Will have drafted in stars such as Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington and Scream actor Neve Campbell, charmed their way into a stunt training day to shoot an action trailer before flying out to LA in a bid to get a Hollywood movie – Roger the Superhero – made.

Tommy says: “I have watched countless superhero films in the past and I think it’s about time someone with Down syndrome should play a superhero. We should always be speaking up for the rights of people with Down syndrome so that we are able to make our own choices in life.”

And while his character in Line of Duty was watched by more than 12 million viewers, after the finale in 2021 Tommy has found work has been a little thin on the ground. Deciding to take matters into his own hands he teams up with his filmmaker brother Will to do a one-off BBC special, Tommy Jessop goes to Hollywood.

In the documentary, Tommy and Will employ various tactics to get Hollywood to notice Roger, including sending video messages to A-listers to ask them to play Tommy’s baddie, prompting GoT star Kit to read with Tommy for the role. Kit says: “My cousin, Laurent, has Down syndrome and I’ve always felt with him that he has abilities that I don’t have, and that people with Down syndrome don’t have.

“I think one of those abilities that he has, that I hope would be part of your superhero, is an empathy. He understands quite often how I’m feeling almost before I know I’m feeling it, which I think is amazing. The time is right for a superhero front and centre that has Down syndrome. I think you have every chance of getting this made. You should do it.”

Tommy was also given tips on how to pitch his movie idea by Neve, who tells him: “I love the idea of learning more about people with Down’s, also the idea of changing perspectives, people’s perceptions, or what they believe the story to be as opposed to what your actual life story is.”

There’s a long road ahead, but Will and Tommy come away confident they can pull this off. All his life, Tommy has been told he cannot do things others can, including being told by a doctor when he was 10 that he would never read. “I am proving that people with Down syndrome can do things,” Tommy says.

“We can act. If we are on TV more often, people might start to understand us even better and believe in us. They will start to see we are no different to other people and that we should be treated equally and respected just like everyone else.” He has achieved a remarkable amount in his career and his talent for acting has not gone unnoticed.

Line of Duty was a life-changing gig for Tommy, who still remembers getting the call. “I was literally jumping for joy,” he recalls. “I really enjoyed playing the part. Starring in Line of Duty was a bit like being on a James Bond film set.”

Show creator Jed Mercurio said Tommy “empowered us all to give him greater responsibilities” and his mother, Jane, who founded Winchester’s Blue Apple theatre for people with disabilities, said the plot may have been hard to watch but “it brought to the foreground things that needed highlighting”.

Tommy, who announced he wanted to be an actor at age 18, became the first actor with Down syndrome to star in a prime-time BBC drama, Coming Down the Mountain, which was nominated for a Bafta. He has also received an Emmy for a documentary he worked on with his brother, Growing Up Down’s, which allowed him to share his feelings, hopes and dreams for the first time.

“There is a killer line in the documentary where I say, ‘I am proving that people with Down syndrome can act, right here, right now’,” he says. “I really meant it then, and I really mean it now. I’d love to play James Bond, be a superhero or fall in love in a romcom. My ultimate dream is to be in a Hollywood movie.”

As well as starring in leading roles on primetime TV and film, Tommy has taken part in 41 stage productions and was the first actor with Down syndrome to play Hamlet in a major touring production. “Hamlet is a bit like me, except I don’t kill people,” he laughs. “On a serious note, I enjoyed playing Hamlet because I love to make the audience feel moved emotionally. I feel quite alive and free when I’m on stage. ‘To be or not to be’ is one of my mantras in life because I believe people with Down syndrome should have choices.”

Tommy’s recently written a memoir about his life and says he called it A Life Worth Living because “I believe we are all changemakers and I hope my memoir will help other people see how we could be thinking and feeling”. As well as his campaigning for fairer rights for people with Down syndrome, he thrives upon tackling difficult plotlines that bring issues faced by people from his community into the spotlight.

He says: “My acting has given me a platform to speak out about issues I care about. In 2021, I joined the campaign for the new Down Syndrome Bill, campaigning for it to become law.” For Tommy, this has been one of his greatest achievements because for ages “people ignored our gifts and hid us away”.

While Tommy has been campaigning to change this, he’s also been working with Panorama to investigate why people with learning disabilities are twice as likely to die from avoidable causes than others. He says: “The most important thing for people with Down syndrome is to have a voice to speak up for what they really want in life and to show what they are truly capable of. [Source]

admin | Aug 17, 2023

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Welcome to Kit Harington Network, your ultimate online resource for British actor Kit Harington who is best known for his role as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. We aim to provide you with all the latest news, images & so much more on Kit. Feel free to bookmark us and follow us on Twitter for our latest updates!


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