TV movie Tem­ple Grandin traces pas­sion, per­se­ver­ance of autis­tic ge­nius

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY CAS­SAN­DRA SZKLARSKI THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

TORONTO — When ac­tress Cather­ine O’Hara came face-to­face with the re­mark­able woman whose life story is told in the made-for-TV movie, Tem­ple

Grandin, she says she was over­come with a de­sire to hug the bril­liant sci­en­tist.

Trou­ble is, she knew that Grandin’s autism meant she had an in­tense aver­sion to be­ing touched.

“ When you hear her story, you re­ally do, you just want to hug this woman,” the gre­gar­i­ous O’Hara ex­claims dur­ing a re­cent stop in Toronto to pro­mote the film.

“ Just be­cause she’s amaz­ing and you want to be as near to her as you can be.”

Her re­cent meet­ing with the renowned sci­en­tist is top-of­mind as she dis­cusses her lat­est film, Tem­ple Grandin, air­ing Satur­day on HBO Canada.

She says the en­counter ended with Grandin and the cast ar­min-arm for a group photo, and says that as Grandin’s fame has risen, so too has her tol­er­ance for fans who want to be near her.

O’Hara plays Grandin’s Aunt Ann in the film, which traces an in­cred­i­ble story of per­se­ver­ance and pas­sion.

The movie be­gins with Grandin as a frus­trated teen la­belled un­teach­able, and fol­lows her blos­som­ing in­ter­est in sci­ence and a unique em­pa­thy for an­i­mals that even­tu­ally makes her an ex­pert on an­i­mal be­hav­iour and autism.

Claire Danes plays Grandin, a task that in­volved adopt­ing a slew of quirky man­ner­isms that in­clude a heavy-footed gait, child­like en­thu­si­asm and an odd, declar­a­tive speak­ing tone.

“ She’s just so to­tally this woman,” O’Hara mar­vels.

Danes’ re­search for the role in­cluded weeks of read­ing on autism, as well as ob­serv­ing autis­tic girls and study­ing Grandin’s unique ca­dence and speech pat­terns.

She’s so con­vinc­ing as the autis­tic ge­nius that view­ers may at first have a hard time get­ting be­yond the bizarre man­ner­isms to sur­ren­der to the story, O’Hara al­lows.

“If you’re in com­edy, peo­ple run with you with that but I think it’ll prob­a­bly take a mo­ment,” says O’Hara.

“If peo­ple don’t know the real Tem­ple Grandin ... and you first see Claire Danes you’d go ‘ What? What?”’

O’Hara’s Aunt Ann owns a cat- tle farm where Grandin spends the sum­mer as a teen. It’s there that the cu­ri­ous an­i­mal lover de­vel­ops a fas­ci­na­tion for cows and their man­ner­isms, and takes note of such pe­cu­liar­i­ties as the move­ment of a horse’s ears and the dif­fer­ent types of moos that cows make.

From there, Grandin goes on to study an­i­mal be­hav­iour at uni­ver­sity and de­vel­ops a new way of cat­tle han­dling that rev­o­lu­tion­izes the way live­stock is raised for slaugh­ter. She’s now pro­fes­sor of an­i­mal sci­ence at Colorado State Uni­ver­sity, the au­thor of an ar­ray of books and a fre­quent speaker on autism.

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