Cut! Amputation Is Having a Hollywood Moment
From "Grey's Anatomy" to "The Walking Dead," why limbs are flying off the screen this TV season.
This story first appeared in the Nov. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Some of TV’s biggest dramas are getting a leg up on the competition this fall with storylines centering on amputation. On ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Jessica Capshaw’s character is being fitted for a prosthetic limb after her leg was amputated following injuries sustained in the plane crash featured in the season-eight finale.
AMC’s top-rated The Walking Dead, no stranger to gore, recently featured a character (Scott Wilson) having his leg brutally chopped off with an ax in a bid to prevent his transformation into a zombie. And not to be outdone, American Horror Story’s Chloe Sevigny had both legs removed in a torture sequence, marking the FX series’ second amputation this season after Adam Levine had his arm ripped off.
Why so many appendage removals? Producers seem to have honed in on a basic human fear. (CBS’ Criminal Minds even did an episode centering on a doctor practicing amputations on unsuspecting victims.) But Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara tells THR that beyond the shock value, the storyline highlights a socially relevant issue with so many military veterans returning home with disabilities including lost limbs.
“It’s important to do an accurate portrayal of a person learning to live with a disability,” he says. The trend is even spilling over into movies.
In the new martial arts actioner The Man With the Iron Fists, the title character played by RZA loses both hands to a torturous amputation. And in awards contender Rust and Bone, Marion Cotillard stars as a whale trainer who loses her legs in an accident.
Notes Sevigny, “The idea of [amputation] is pretty horrifying for a lot of people.”