I had the honor of working on this film last year. It is an 8 year labor of love that my friend and talented director John Asher took to make a movie about the challenges of raising a son with Autism. It’s a subject matter John and I know a lot about – as we are both raising sons who have Autism.
I had actually helped John get his son Evan diagnosed years ago. John and I would often test against each other for pilots (because I mean… we’re basically twins, right? LOL). One year, while we waited to read, John was pretty stressed and told me about these seizures his son was having that doctors couldn’t explain. Having already spent years with Autism (raising my own son Reece who was diagnosed at 3 1/2), I knew that seizures were a common and often overlooked symptom of Autism. I suggested that he might have Evan tested for Autism.
Two weeks later, John called to tell me that Evan had been diagnosed with Autism. I knew he was relieved to finally have an answer but now faced the overwhelming reality of what that ‘ment. My wife and I immediately took John and his wife Jenny to dinner to reassure them that Evan’s diagnosis wasn’t a death sentence, that there was hope and a lot they could do to help him.
Fast forward to June of 2015: John FINALLY sends me the script for the Autism movie he’d been talking about making for years. With respect, John eventually told me he didn’t want me to read it till he knew he had the financing to make it. I think he knew how I would react to reading it.
PO is the only script I’ve ever read that I had to put down three times because I couldn’t stop crying. It was beautifully written, (by Colin Goldman) imaginative, and the subject matter hit very close to home. Turns out, the writer Colin, has a son with Autism too. It not only honestly mirrored many of the experiences and challenges my wife and I had raising our son but presented this original and wonderfully magical glimpse of Autism “through the eyes” of its main character Po (played in the film by the remarkable Julian Feder).
I sent John a very emotional video expressing how moved I was by the script and that, even though I knew how hard it would be emotionally, I wanted to play Po’s father. John told me that the role had already been cast (played beautifully in the film by Christopher Gorham – who ALSO has a son with Autism). It didn’t matter, I was so moved by the script, I told John I would help him any way I could. I’d have worked for free as a PA if he had asked. PO was a movie that needed to get made.
Fortunately for me, John had another idea in mind. A few weeks later, he sent me a revised script that contained a “new” role written specifically for me. I can’t talk about it just yet (when you see the film you’ll understand why) but my character Jack plays a very important role in Po’s journey and imagination.
I’m not sure if Jack is what John always had in mind for me – but I will forever be grateful to him for it – as it was one of the most imaginatively fun, challenging and creatively fulfilling experiences of my entire acting career.
The film will be “World Premiering” at The Festival De Cine Panama on April 10th, making it’s “North American Premier” at The Palm Beach Film Festival April 13th, continuing onto The Newport Beach Film Festival the 23rd and is the “Closing Night” film of the Albuquerque Film Festival on April 24th! Paramount is also hosting a FREE Autism Awareness screening for the film April 5th! And that’s just the beginning of the film’s run.
I am so thrilled to see that festivals, audiences and critics have already started embracing PO. The movie is beautiful, unique, and gives a honest glimpse at the real challenges parents face raising children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). I believe it also sheds even more light on Autism, a disorder a lot of people still don’t understand and how critical it is to expand research and services to families and children affected by what is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in human history (one that affects more kids today than AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined).
I hope you all get the chance to see and support this important film.
To follow the film’s journey, please go to the Facebook page – ThemoviePO – and for now, enjoy the film’s official trailer.