With three Spectrum actors playing Spectrum characters, there were bound to be moments where the lines between real life and the show’s fictional world blurred. There were scenes where Pien’s character, Violet, had a nervous breakdown, and Rutecki wanted to break character to come and comfort her, Pien said. On another occasion, between takes, Rutetsky covered his ears with his hands so as not to hear loud noises on the set; Pien came over and plugged her ears in solidarity with her hands.
“I had so many great experiences on set,” Rutecki said.
In some scenes, Glassman used his own triggers—such as an aversion to loud chewing noises—to get into character.
“My dad chews loudly and it drives me crazy,” he said. “So I asked the director if we could have the person next to me chew loudly because I had to be very frantic in that scene and I knew listening to that person chewing would make me go crazy.”
Katims first wondered what problems could arise when many cast and crew members are on the spectrum. Will the crew have to, say, work at different times or create a lot of new protocols on set? “We didn’t do it,” he said. “And those three leads came so prepared. I’ve worked with a lot of actors on other shows and I wonder if they could be prepared in the same way.”
Katims has already started thinking about new stories for the highly anticipated second season, while the cast hopes their performances will pave the way for more neurodiverse actors making their way into films and series.
“I don’t want to stand on this hill and say that only people with autism should play people with autism,” Glassman said. “But I think the pendulum needs to swing a bit, and TV shows like this shed light on the idea that they can do that.”