Asta Philpot is a quadriplegic man like few others.

He is the subject of a new comedy-drama film Come As You Arewhich is a remake of the 2011 Belgian movie Hasta La Vista. The film follows three friends, including Philpot, who have disabilities and who decide to go on a road trip together in Europe. There, the three young men visit a brothel in Spain. In the remake, the brothel is located in Montreal, Canada.

Philpot and Come As You Are director Richard Wong told uInterview exclusively about the making of the film and its significance as it relates to people with disabilities. Philpot and the film’s cast attended the 2019 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas in March. The film was written by Erik Linthorst and stars Grant Rosenmeyer, Hayden Szeto and Ravi Patel. 

“I went out to Spain with my parents one year and I lost my virginity in a Spanish brothel.. wooo!” said Philpot with a laugh. “I said to my mom and dad on the way back ‘the whole world needs to see this and I need to help other people in my position with disabilities overcome this barrier’ because it was clearly, you know, something taboo still. So we took it to the BBC and they took it on and we did it: we made an award-winning BBC documentary and then we did the Belgium film, which won awards and then now we’re here with an incredible crew, Grant and Eric, who beautifully wrote the script. And I think it’s just a real great message that the whole world needs to see and that’s been my mission pretty much since 2008.”

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Philpot then praised the three main actors for their portrayal of him and his friends, saying that they put in a lot of physical work in order to fully become people with disabilities.

“I just think its preconceptions in general that we have of each other, you know,” said Philpot. “We we all have judgements and we all judge each other by first appearance when in actual fact we’re all born the same way and we all breathe the same oxygen on the planet and we’re all just energies really that need to actually combine instead of separate, which the world is trying to do on a constant basis. So as long as we see each other as human beings and just loving one another then I think that this game can work.”

Wong explained how he became involved with directing a film about Philpot’s story.

“I worked on a TV show called Oliver Bean back in I don’t know what year that was, what year was that? 2000?” Wong wondered with a laugh. “I was a DIT back then and Grant was an 11-year-old kid and um we did the show together and then uh we didn’t see each other for you know over a decade and then Grant was in a movie with one of my good friends and I was hearing about this movie through them. You know the second I heard about it I was kind of just, I was like, ‘wow, this is amazing!’ so I kind of warmed my way into a meeting with grant about it, and I just kind of pitched my ideas and he and I got along I think so [instantaneously] and we were on the same page from really honestly I think the opening word.”

Wong added he hoped people felt “empathy” for people with disabilities after watching the film, while Philpot said that he wished for audiences to feel a “sense of joy.”

Full interview transcript:

Q: How was your story turned into a movie?

Asta: “I went out to Spain with my parents one year and I lost my virginity in a Spanish brothel and haha uh wooo!, I said uh I said to my mom and dad on the way back I said the whole world needs to see this and I need to help other people in my position with disabilities overcome this barrier because it was clearly you know somethi- taboo still so we took it to the BBC and they they took it on and we did it we an award winning BBC documentary and then we did the Belgium film which won awards and then now we’re here with an incredible crew and Grant and Eric who beautifully wrote the script and I think it’s just you know a real great message that the whole world needs to see and that’s my that’s been mission pretty much since 2008.”

Q: How did the actors do in their portrayals of disabilities?

Asta: “Amazing, incredibly well you know I think to depict someone with a disability is really hard um just all the physicality’s and I went through at like- granted hours and hours and um on like my posture and hands and stuff and he was getting it wrong I was like no you gotta start again, you gotta look more disabled so yeah I think they did an incredible job right from the writing uh to the directing it’s just the whole thing is just mind blowingly incredible and it portrays such an incredible message that needs to be seen. I just think its pre-conceptions in general that we have of each other you know we we all have judgements and uh we all judge each other by first appearance uh when in actual fact were all born the same way and we all breathe the same oxygen on the planet and we’re all its we’re all just energies really that you know that need to actually combine instead of separate which the world is trying to do on a constant basis. So as long as we see each other as human beings and just loving one another than I think that this game can work.”

Q: Richard, why did you want to tell the story?

Richard: “Um, well I got involved by um I worked on a tv show called Oliver Bean um back in I don’t know what year that was, what year was that? 2000? Haha um I was a DIT back then and grant was an 11 year old kid and um we did the show together and then uh we didn’t see each other for you know over a decade and um then Grant was in a movie with one of my good friends and um I was hearing about this movie through them. You know the second I heard about it I was kind of just, I was like this is wow this is amazing um so I kind of uh warmed my way into a meeting with grant about it um and you know I just kind of pitched my ideas and he and I got along I think so instantaneous and we were on the same page from really honestly I think the opening word and um you know, kind of the rest is history.”

Q: What do you hope audiences will take away from it?

Asta: “I hope they have some sense of joy um, some sense of reality with what is actually happening in society and um just just you know err so much media err or negative media around at the moment that when when I saw this film actually, fully completed yesterday I was like wow you know, something actually heartwarming and conscious changing on the big screen finally so I hope someone could go out there and feel absolutely enlightened. I was coming in this morning and some lady stopped me on the street and said, “we saw your film yesterday and we just thought it was absolutely incredible.” So, things like that is just just one day it’s being seen and it’s starting to vibrate across the planet already.”

Richard: “Yeah, I mean I couldn’t I don’t think I could say it better than Asta but yeah I mean what I want people to take away is uh you know, empathy. I mean I think that’s what all great provides is empathy, understanding and the realization that we’re all we’re all on the same horrible boat careening toward death you know and uh.”