‘Peter Pan’ star makes history as first actor with Down’s syndrome to land major role in Disney movie

A Peter Pan & Wendy star is making history as the first actor with Down’s Syndrome to land a major role in a Disney movie.

Noah Matthews Matofsky, 15, is set to star as Lost Boys leader Slightly in the 2023 live-action film, set for release on Disney+ on April 28.

The movie is a highly-anticipated remake of the 1953 animated Disney classic, which follows the story of flying boy Peter Pan who doesn’t want to grow up, and his adventures in Neverland with a fairy and a band of lost children.

Jude Law also stars in the flick as evil Captain Hook, a character previously portrayed by Jason Isaacs in the 2003 live-action version.

Speaking to The Sun, Matofsky said that Law ensured the children enjoyed their days on set, even giving them ice creams as a treat. “One of my favorite days was when Jude hired an ice cream van and brought it on set, then served us ice creams himself,” he said, adding: “It was an amazing experience, I had my own trailer and made lots of fantastic friends. We all learned sword fighting, which I loved.”

He then said that, while he had to learn many lines, it was still an enjoyable experience: “I had lots of lines to learn very quickly, but it was exciting and I really enjoyed it.”

The British teen told the outlet that he really threw himself into the project and particularly enjoyed filming the action scenes, such as one where the pirate ship is overturned. Matofsky told The Sun that he’d discovered Disney were casting for the film through Zebedee, an inclusive talent agency.

He then sent in an audition tape, before getting to meet with the movie’s director David Lowery, with whom Matofksy bonded over a shared passion for Lord of the Flies. Filming took place in Vancouver, where Matofsky was joined by his mother – leaving his father and sister at home in the UK.

The teen has big dreams – telling reporters that one of his ambitions is to go to drama college and become a role model for other people with Down’s Syndrome to look up to. Of his condition, Matofsky stated that he doesn’t believe it should limit anyone or hold them back at all, advising them that “you can do anything” and that they should “always dream big”.

Lowery explained to Collider way back in 2021 – after production of the movie had just completed 91 days of filming – that Peter Pan & Wendy was his favorite project to work on to date. “I think, personally speaking, it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever made, which I wasn’t expecting going into it, but it is. I’ve never been as in love with a movie as I am with this one. We’ve got a couple of weeks left to go and I just love this movie. It’s the most personal thing I’ve ever made,” he said.

“It is, ironically, the most adult movie I’ve ever made. I went into it thinking that my entryway into this movie was that I’ve got a classic case of Peter Pan syndrome […] And I thought that was what was going to appeal to me about it, but in making it, in writing it, and now directing it and seeing it come to life, I’ve realized that this is a movie about me letting go of that […] it’s the first movie I’ve made from an adult perspective, if that makes any sense,” he added.

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