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Zack Gottsagen      

Actor & Dancer, Star of "Peanut Butter Falcon," "Bulletproof," and "Becoming Bulletproof"

Zachary “Zack” Gottsagen is an award-winning actor and star of the 2019 indie hit, The Peanut Butter Falcon. Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, the writers and directors of The Peanut Butter Falcon were so taken with Gottsagen's personality and talent that they wrote the script for the film incorporating Gottsagen's mannerisms, ways of expressing himself, innocence, enthusiasm, and joy for life into the lead role.

Gottsagen was the first child with Down syndrome to be fully included in the Palm Beach County school district and graduated as a theatre major from Dreyfoos School of the Arts. After the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed, Gottsagen filed one of the first ADA suits, which successfully challenged Little League to include children with disabilities, resulting in all coaches throughout the U.S. being required to receive training in inclusion.

Gottsagen's talent, passion, motivation, and perseverance have been the impetus for building his expanding performing arts career. Gottsagen has won many awards, including the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocate Award from the Global Down Syndrome Foundation; Outstanding Breakout Performance from Crested Butte Film Festival; the Rising Star Award from the Palm Springs International Film Festival; the Newcomer Award from the Hollywood Critics Association; the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Palm Beach County Education Foundation; the Ed Roberts Award from the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley; the Honorary Champion of Inclusion Award from Best Buddies; and the Breakthrough Entertainer Award from the Associated Press.

Gottsagen is best known for his lead role in The Peanut Butter Falcon. Gottsagen is in the award winning short film At Last (on HBO Max), the music video by Delta Spirit What’s Done is Done, and the soon to be released feature film God Save the Queens. Most recently Gottsagen was a cast member in the amazing production of Label-Less.

Gottsagen is a strong advocate for Disability Rights. Gottsagen enjoys spending time with his friends, bowling, watching wrestling, loves listening to music, dancing, and spending time with his 3 dogs

Gottsagen presented the Media Access Award in 2019 to the producers of The Peanut Butter Falcon. At the 2020 Academy Awards, he became the first person with Down syndrome to present an Oscar.

In Gottsagen's words, “Talent… that’s all I’ve got.”


“Damn It, That’s Huge”: Actors With Down Syndrome Are Finding More Work in Hollywood
In The Peanut Butter Falcon, a coming-of-age tale about a young man named Zak who runs away from a nursing home to pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler, the actor leads a cast of Hollywood A-listers, including Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Bruce Dern, Thomas Haden Church, Jon Bernthal and John Hawkes. A major break for any fledgling star, the role was specifically written for Gottsagen, a former Special Olympics athlete with Down syndrome.
‘Peanut Butter Falcon’ Star Zack Gottsagen’s Unlikely Path to Hollywood
Zack Gottsagen, who has Down syndrome, co-stars in "Peanut Butter Falcon." The road trip movie stars Shia LaBeouf an as outlaw on the run who befriends a man with Down syndrome (Gottsagen) after he’s run away from his assisted living home to pursue his dreams of being a professional wrestler. Co-directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz wrote the movie for Gottsagen after meeting him at a summer camp for people with disabilities.
Zack Gottsagen has Down syndrome. And a movie role. And a best bud named Shia LaBeouf
The story behind the film “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is as unexpectedly heartwarming as the film itself. And it all started with the film’s star, Zack Gottsagen. In town recently to be a presenter for the Media Access Awards, the actor posed for a photo shoot in the Beverly Hilton lobby. Songs from his favorite movie, “Grease,” played in the background to help loosen him up. His mother Shelley said he’d watched it so many times as a kid, he wore out the VHS tape. Asked what part he’d most like to play, Gottsagen immediately replied, “Danny Zuko.”

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