Gottsagen lives with high-functioning Down syndrome, and became the inspiration for The Peanut Butter Falcon after writing/directing duo Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz met him while working at a non-profit arts organization. The Peanut Butter Falcon follows a down-on-his-luck crab fisherman as he embarks on a journey to get a young man with Down syndrome to a professional wresting school in rural North Carolina and away from the retirement home where he’s lived most of his life. Cameras will roll in Savannah, GA on June 17.
Armory Films’ Tim Zajaros and Christopher Lemole are both financing and producing the film. Also producing are Bona Fide Productions’ Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa (Little Miss Sunshine, Nebraska), T-Bone Burnett (Crazy Heart), Lije Sarki, and David Thies. Burnett will also produce the soundtrack.
Burnett won an Oscar for Original Song for Crazy Heart in 2009, and was also nominated for Cold Mountain in 2003.
Johnson is repped by WME; Dern by Innovative Artists and Pure Arts; Burnett by L J Entertainment, and Nilson, Schwartz and Sarki are represented by Management 360 and Bloom/Hergott. Armory films is represented by Dan Stutz.
The Peanut Butter Falcon is an adventure story set in the world of a modern Mark Twain that begins when Zak (22), a young man with Down syndrome runs away from a nursing home where he lives to chase his dream of becoming a professional wrestler and attending the wrestling school of The Salt Water Redneck (50). Through circumstances beyond their control Tyler (34), a small time outlaw on the run becomes Zak’s unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor (26), a kind nursing home employee with a story of her own to join them on their journey.
ELEANOR (26) has completed the coursework for a PhD in Social Welfare and is finishing up her residency at the retirement home where Zak lives. She is from a wealthy family and embodies the essence of a young Jackie Kennedy. She is smart, driven, and beautiful inside and out. Until she meets Tyler she is positive that she's making all the right decisions.