Pet Sematary prequel: John W. Lawson cast in role rewritten for him

Last Updated on September 2, 2021

Disability-inclusion advocate and double hand amputee John W. Lawson has been cast in the role of Stanny in writer/director Lindsey Beer’s upcoming Pet Sematary prequel, which just started filming this month – and Beer was so impressed by Lawson’s two auditions, she reportedly rewrote the role of Stanny specifically for Lawson, making him a character who has had his hands amputated.

Lawson told Variety,

When I got the new sides, they had completely written the role for the character to be an amputee. Which was freakin’ awesome. Because it was not [an amputee role before] in any way. That, to me, was a real turning point, not only in casting, but in the mindset of Hollywood.”

Beer confirmed,

John’s audition portrayed a layered range of both aggressiveness and vulnerability. His character is hiding a secret, and has led a difficult life that puts him on the offensive with our main character, young Jud Crandall. But underneath the bluster, Stanny is someone in search of connection, and he wants to tell our hero Jud the truth. [Lawson’s] performance really brought humanity and nuance to the role. A large focus of this story was on reversing the genre stereotype of the mystical indigenous and cursed Native American land. I try to be as inclusive as possible in all of my projects, and that includes creating meaningful roles for [disabled people.] But we had not originally envisioned a double amputee for Stanny’s character. [Lawson’s] unique circumstance led to some interesting changes in the backstory and actions of his character, and all for the better.”

While Lawson, who lost his hands in an electrical accident when he was 30, does have myoelectric prosthetic hands, he says that “most of the time” he wears his hooks. He has fourteen years of acting credits to his name, and his filmography shows that many of his roles have been built around the fact that he doesn’t have hands. He played “Hooks” Harrigan in The Courier, Thug Missing Arms in Super, Handless in an episode of American Horror Story, Handless Soldier on an episode of Westworld, and Amputee Veteran on an episode of Shooter.

His co-stars in Pet Sematary include Henry Thomas, Samantha Mathis, Natalie Alyn Lind, Pam Grier, Jack Mulhern, Forrest Goodluck, and Isabella Star LaBlanc, with Jackson White as a young Jud Crandall.

Jud Crandall was an elderly man played by Fred Gwynne in the 1989 version of Pet Sematary (watch it HERE) and by John Lithgow in the 2019 version (watch that one HERE).

Produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian, the Pet Sematary prequel will be released through the Paramount Plus streaming service.

Source: Variety

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.