An Adventure With A ‘Wild Man’

“The Peanut Butter Falcon,” which won the SXSW audience award this spring, opens in Austin and Dallas this weekend.

By Laura RiceAugust 9, 2019 9:30 am,

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” is an adventure film. But the protagonist at its center is a bit unusual.

“It stars a good friend of ours, Zack, who has Down syndrome, but is also a wild man,” says Michael Schwartz, one of the writers and directors of the film, along with Tyler Nilson. 

In classic road trip style, Zack’s character, named Zak, breaks out of a nursing home and meets up with an outlaw.

“Together they go on an adventure that involves building a raft, drinking whiskey and chasing dreams,” Schwartz says.

Schwartz and Nilson say their movie has a lot to say about inclusion and portrayal of people with disabilities, but it’s personal, too. “We just wanted to make a movie with our friend,” Schwartz says. And some of the dialog comes from conversations the directors have had with Zach Gottsagen, who plays Zak. The movie also stars Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson and Bruce Dern.

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” premiered in Austin at SXSW 2019 in March. Schwartz says an SXSW debut was a big deal for “a little movie like ours. You make a movie, and you hope that audiences embrace it, and you hope that ultimately [you] get distribution. Because a lot of movies that go to film festivals just disappear.”

The film went on to win the audience award at SXSW.

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” opens August 9 in Austin and Dallas, and a few other select cities. Nilson and Schwartz say good response in those markets will determine whether there’s a wider release.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.