Gus Van Sant returns with a film about an alcoholic quadriplegic cartoonist

Joaquin Phoenix stars as John Callahan in the director’s first film in a decade

A first look at Gus Van Sant’s film Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot has dropped, just before its premiere at Sundance Film Festival later this month.

The film, starring Joaquin Phoenix, is a true to life film based on the 1989 autobiography of John Callahan – the writer and cartoonist that suffered with a myriad of addictions and who was left quadriplegic at 21 following a car crash. His comics – which he drew by using a pen held in both hands – provocatively took on subjects from disability to race, and stirred major controversy. They were splashed across Playboy and the New Yorker.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot traces this story, and sees his girlfriend and his sponsor (Rooney Mara and Jonah Hill) attempt to see him out of his dark places. Carrie Brownstein and Jack Black are also set to appear in the film. 

“This poignant, insightful and often funny drama about the healing power of art is adapted from Callahan’s autobiography,” a synopsis reads.

As a project, it has been in the works for over two decades – at one point Robin Williams was associated with it. Callahan’s story rides a wave of pitch-black humour, a warts-and-all journey and acute self-awareness of his struggle. He passed away in 2010. Van Sant, the director behind Milk, Good Will Hunting and Elephant, has the ability to pull that compelling story out.

Watch the trailer below. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, will premiere at Sundance January 19, and will hit cinemas May 11.