Controversy Surrounds Casting for “Hamill”

Matt Hamill throws a left jab at Michael Bisping. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

It seems that controversy has surrounded the casting process concerning “Hamill”, an independent film set to feature the story of current UFC light heavyweight Matt Hamill and the hardships he faced growing up as a deaf athlete.

Hamill discussed the ongoing protests by the deaf community of his selection of Eben Kostbar, a non-deaf actor, to play the character of Hamill himself, in a recent interview with Thomas Gerbasi of

“I was really shocked by the reaction,” Hamill said in the interview. “I thought the movie would receive positive feedback from the deaf community because this movie is based on a deaf athlete and the life surrounding his deafness. It hurt at first, but I’ve come to realize that this is a small portion of the deaf community. With positive things, comes the negative things. If anything, it has kept me grounded.”

Kostbar was an easy selection for Hamill due to the fact that not only is he a personal friend of the former cast member of the third season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, but he is also fluent in American Sign Language and has a background in wrestling.

Protests of Hamill’s decision reached their highest point earlier this year when two casting calls at Gallaudet University and the Rochester Institute of Technology were canceled. It isn’t the first time that Hamill’s actions have been criticized according to the former Team Punishment member.

“An example of the criticism I have taken is that a lot of my taped interviews don’t show me signing,” said Hamill. “The camera is focused on my face, and not my top half where my hands can be seen, so they assume that I am only speaking and not signing. What they don’t realize is that I am signing, but my hands are cut off from the camera.”

Hamill bounced back from his first career loss to Michael Bisping last fall to score a first-round stoppage of UFC newcomer Tim Boetsch at UFC Fight Night 13 in April. No word as of yet on when the Loveland, Ohio native’s next fight will be.

The movie, which is set to begin filming this fall, is currently slated for a 2009 release.


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