‘Peter Pan and Wendy’ actor is first person with Down syndrome to star in a Disney film

One of Disney’s most hyped new movies on Disney+ is “Peter Pan and Wendy.” This retelling of the classic story stars Jude Law as Captain Hook, but it also has another actor getting a lot of attention: Noah Matthews Matofsky, the first person with Down syndrome to star in a Disney film.

Fifteen-year-old Matofsky stars as Slightly, the leader of the Lost Boys and second-in-command to Peter. When he discovered that Disney was holding auditions, the British teenager sent in a tape, and was soon invited to meet with director David Lowery. Matofsky was cast, and spent six months filming in Vancouver and Newfoundland.

“It was an amazing experience, I had my own trailer and made lots of fantastic friends,” he told The Sun. “We all learned sword fighting, which I loved. I had lots of lines to learn very quickly, but it was exciting and I really enjoyed it. I had to go to the make-up trailer every day for them to put mud on my face. We would sing ‘You’re Welcome’ from the film ‘Moana’. We even did the rap part.”


One of his favorite parts of filming was doing the stunts, one of which involved dangling upside down from an overturned pirate ship. “All the pirates fall into the water but Noah was left hanging upside down from a cannon,” his mother, Kathryn Matthews, explained. “They built a special £60,000 rig to support him.”

Matofsky also enjoyed bonding with Law, who reportedly is a father to seven children.

“One of my favourite days was when Jude hired an ice cream van and brought it on set, then served us ice creams himself,” he said, and added, “I liked Vancouver and Newfoundland so much.”

Matthews, who is signed with inclusive talent agency Zebedee, has an incredible knowledge of film, which his mother said helped him get the role. “Noah and David bonded over their love of the original Lord Of The Flies film, which has a similar vibe to the feral Lost Boys,” she said. “It’s amazing as this was Noah’s first acting job and he was chosen from thousands.”

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Unfortunately, it meant his family had to be split up, as his 18-year-old sister had to stay in England for exams. And though they missed each other, the film has been an emotional experience for them both. “Lola loved it,” he said of his sister. “She cried when the Disney logo came up at the beginning of the film. She is very proud of me.”

He’s since been asked to become an ambassador for Down Syndrome UK, and his mother said being chosen not just to act in the film, but to play the leader of the Lost Boys shows that differences should not keep people apart.

“Noah is very proud of his extra chromosome,” she said. “As captain of the Lost Boys, Noah’s character Slightly shows that Down syndrome never needs to hold you back. It’s not a learning difficulty — it’s a learning difference, and we should embrace differences.”

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