He’s been called ‘phenomenal’ by Mark Rylance, acted alongside Vicky McClure, played Hamlet, and taken part in critically acclaimed shorts, but Tommy Jessop believes there’s still much progress to be made in how the film industry treats disabled actors
Tommy Jessop was 22 when he first saw a character with Down’s syndrome on screen. “It was … me!” he says with a grin, sitting in his family’s living room. In the BBC TV drama Coming Down the Mountain in 2007, Jessop played a disabled teenager despised by his older brother. It captured Jessop’s ability to fully realise his characters on screen. “Making viewers feel emotions is my passion in life,” says Jessop.
In person, the 36-year-old is animated company. There are many things Jessop thinks are either “brilliant” or “wicked”, including but not limited to: receiving an honorary doctorate in arts from the University of Winchester, his “top secret” new acting project, being a volunteer usher at the Theatre Royal, Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin from Newcastle United, Bradley Walsh’s The Chase, and presenting an award at the 2021 Bafta ceremony. His recent passion project is cooking, where he shares the results on Twitter with his nearly 30,000 followers. (“I’ve made flapjacks and cakes, shepherd’s pie and fish pie,” he says.)