Down syndrome actor Zack Gottsagen achieves dream of starring in a film with Shia LaBeouf

Sam Ashurst
The Peanut Butter Falcon stars Shia LeBeouf as a small time outlaw who joins forces with Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down Syndrome on the run. (Signature Entertainment)

In possibly the most heartwarming news of the day, the first trailer for The Peanut Butter Falcon has dropped, revealing that the incredible story behind the film is as moving as the events portrayed in the teaser.

Landing on Reddit with the headline ‘We made THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON with Shia LaBeouf for our friend with Down syndrome who wanted to be a movie star,’ the trailer outlines the movie’s plot; it follows a young man with Down’s syndrome who wants to be a wrestler, who teams up with an outlaw to pursue his dreams.

It’s a lovely trailer, but while posting it, writer/director Tyler Nilson revealed information about the making of the movie that we’d actually also like to see turned into a film.

When asked by a commenter how he managed to get his excellent actors, Nilson replied that they, “shot a trailer with no money. slid up in DMs. got one yes... then a landslide of help / support / good vibes. I was homeless at the time, living in a tent behind someone house in LA.”

Zack Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf star in The Peanut Butter Falcon (credit: Signature)

Nilson doesn’t confirm who that ‘one yes’ was, but our best guess would be Shia LaBeouf, as he’s the sort of name that can green light an indie like this, who also enjoys doing a wide variety of interesting projects.

Nilson explains further later in the thread. “Five years ago a friend of ours with Down syndrome said he wanted to be a movie star and asked us to make a movie with him.”

“We immediately said yes, because we knew Zack had the talent to carry a feature film. He just needed the shot, and if he could get into a movie we knew he would hit a home run. So we wrote this film specifically tailored for him.”

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“I couldn’t be more proud for people to meet Zack Gottsagen and see the performance that he gives in The Peanut Butter Falcon alongside Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, John Hawkes, Thomas Haden Church, Jon Bernthal, Bruce Dern, Yelawolf, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and Mick Foley.”

Shia LaBeouf and Jon Bernthal in The Peanut Butter Falcon (credit: Signature)

Yeah, that’s quite the cast, and quite the backstory.

The film has been acquired by Signature in the UK, with Signature’s Elizabeth Williams saying, “We are delighted to be the UK home for this charming and beautifully made movie.”

The Peanut Butter Falcon is on many “must watch” lists of the year following its break-out launch at SXSW earlier this year and we will be giving the film the profile and love it deserves when it hits UK cinemas later this year.”

A UK release date is as yet unconfirmed.