Zack Gottsagen becomes first Oscars presenter with Down syndrome
The 92nd annual Academy Awards turned out to be historic. Not only did a foreign-language film win Best Picture for the first time, but the awards also featured its first presenter with Down Syndrome: Zack Gottsagen. Gottsagen, the star of The Peanut Butter Falcon, presented the award for Best Live-Action Short alongside co-star and friend Shia LaBeouf. Here are more details.
Gottsagen welcomed on stage with standing ovation
As Gottsagen took the stage at the Dolby Theater, he received a standing ovation from the audience. After the nominations were announced, the 34-year-old actor said the iconic lines, "The Oscar goes to..." LaBeouf then announced The Neighbor's Window as the winner, although he misread it as "The Neighbor's Widow." The Neighbors' Window writer and director Marshall Curry accepted the award.
You can watch a clip here
Some slammed LaBeouf for laughing at Gottsagen
The Oscars' big moment invited widespread praise. One Twitter user wrote, "As a brother of a handicapped person, I thank you for this visibility." However, several others slammed LaBeouf, accusing him of laughing at Gottsagen on stage. A Twitter user wrote, "Why was Shia LaBeouf so impatient with the boy on stage? laughing at and pushing him along? so distasteful."
'Honey Boy' director jumped to LaBeouf's defense
Honey Boy director Alma Har'el defended LaBeouf on Twitter saying, "Shia was offered to present an Oscar. He said he would do it if he can share that moment with his beloved co-star Zach Gottsagen who we all adore. It's stressful up there..." Notably, Gottsagen was LaBeouf's "date" to the Oscars. Others criticized the trolls for being unaware of LaBeouf's "sweet friendship" with Gottsagen.
Har'el also tweeted clip where Labeouf 'laughs at Gottsagen'
Shia was offered to present an Oscar. He said he would do it if he can share that moment with his beloved co-star Zach Gottsagen who we all adore. It’s stressful up there... pic.twitter.com/F75aT1vURa— Alma Har'el🌪 (@Almaharel) February 10, 2020
Gottsagen helped LaBeouf through 'twisted' time in his life
LaBeouf and Gottsagen met on the sets of The Peanut Butter Falcon, a film about a young man with Down syndrome (played by Gottsagen) who dreams of becoming a professional wrestler. In an interview last year, LaBeouf credited Gottsagen's "brutal honesty" that helped him during a "twisted" time in his life, involving problems with alcohol that resulted in his arrest.