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Portraits: People with Epilepsy (1995)


Postcards from the Epi Place

Director/Writer: Samantha Shepherd
Runtime: 17 min

Hugo Weaving
Jean Edwards
Sally Wooding
Ian McCloud
Amanda Webber

This short film features five people with epilepsy, including Hugo Weaving, talking openly, positively and with humour about their epilepsy and the way it affects their lives. It shows that people with epilepsy can be valuable employees as well as talented and successful in many different ways.

Hello, my name’s Hugo Weaving, and I have epilepsy – but it’s no big deal.

I’ve never had a seizure on stage – I’ve never worried about having a seizure on stage. I did once have a temporal lobe seizure on stage so I didn’t actually have a kind of full fit. No one knew what was going on because I was standing there and my whole world became jumbled and I didn’t know what was going on. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to say a line I wouldn’t have known what it was.

I’ve often had seizures just before doing a film, well- 2 or 3 occasions anyway and I think that’s to do with the excitement, nervous excitement you know, or when they’ve just finished, literally the day they’ve finished. So it’s an emotional thing with me, if I’m tired or excited.

There’s nothing in my epilepsy that makes me any less able to do anything as an actor and I think that would be the same for almost any profession – it doesn’t disable me, it’s not a disability. I don’t see it as a disability at all. In terms of my work, if anything, it makes me kind of intrigued about a part of life that is hard to comprehend because it’s just one of those things…I mean someone is more likely to fall over and break their ankle than I am to have a fit. I mean someone might get run over, those sorts of accidents happen and it is just one of those things.

I think because epilepsy is to do with the brain people get really worried about it you know, and they think “Oo er there’s some weirdo, freak person over there, they’ve got epilepsy what is it?
I guess I always assume that it’s not for other people because it’s not a problem for me and possibly that’s the best way to sell something – if it’s not a problem for you it’s not gonna be a problem for someone else, even if you are having seizures every day.
I mean the best thing about epilepsy is that it does force you to think about your health, and your well being, like sleeping, like looking after yourself, looking after yourself you know which I try and do now more than I used to you know, give yourself a chance, give yourself a good life.”

transcript by Diane

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