10 Movie Characters with Hearing Loss
Movie characters with hearing loss are hard to find, especially in films that don’t revolve around their struggles as a hard of hearing (HoH) person. However, recent films have begun utilizing deaf talent and storylines to create more compelling, diverse experiences for hearing and HoH audiences alike.
While not all of these movies are new, most of them have come out in the past decade. They feature lead characters with hearing loss, whether that comes in the form of tinnitus or congenital hearing loss. Here are some of our favourite characters with hearing loss, and why their films are worth watching. Perhaps you’ll find your next movie night pick on this list!
Baby, “Baby Driver”
After being involved in a car accident that killed his parents, Baby is diagnosed with severe tinnitus. He often finds himself listening to music to drown out the sound of his hearing loss, while simultaneously caring for his deaf foster father, Joseph.
In the film, Baby works off his debt to a crime boss by acting as a getaway driver for assorted heists. However, his life of crime hides a good person underneath, and Baby does his best to help others throughout the film.
Rose and Ben, “Wonderstruck”
If you’re looking for hearing loss family movies, “Wonderstruck” might be your top pick. The movie interlaces two stories set 50 years apart: Rose, a deaf girl, leaves her home in hopes of finding her mother, who is a famous actress. In the future, Ben, a partially deaf boy, leaves home in hopes of finding his father.
The movie shifts between these two perspectives, weaving two emotional stories that inevitably tie together in the end. Regarded as “uncynical”, this movie is a lighthearted and inspirational watch.
Regan, “A Quiet Place”
“A Quiet Place” was heralded as one of 2018’s best horror titles, and for good reason. It terrified audiences, and also received praise for utilising the talents of deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, the same actress from “Wonderstruck”.
This post-apocalyptic story follows a family hunted by monsters with acute hearing. Regan, the eldest daughter, is completely deaf, and the family communicates using ASL to avoid making noise. Throughout the film, Regan’s hearing loss is not regarded as a disability, but a valuable part of the storyline and resolution.
Forrest Tucker, “The Old Man & The Gun”
Another recent addition to this list, “The Old Man & The Gun” is likely Robert Redford’s final performance. The film focuses on Forrest Tucker, a career criminal, after he breaks out of prison. He is shown with a hearing aid, confirming that he has hearing loss.
He meets an eclectic cast of characters and continues his high jinks throughout the movie’s runtime. This film has been rated highly for its fun script, brilliant acting, and stunning cinematography.
Bianca Creed, “Creed & Creed II”
While she is not the focus of the films, Bianca Creed, played by Tessa Thompson, is an important character in the film’s storyline. The movies follow her love interest, Adonis, as he navigates a career as a professional boxer.
Throughout both films, Bianca is shown to have progressive hearing loss. She wears hearing aids, and meets Adonis after he confronts her over her loud music. Refusing to let her hearing loss control her life, she pursues her dream as a musician, later succeeding and becoming a mother to a deaf child.
Madison Young, “Hush”
After bacterial meningitis and a failed corrective surgery stole her ability to hear and speak, “Maddie” Young becomes a successful author and moves to an isolated home in the woods. When a masked killer locks her in her home, Maddie must utilise her wit and foresight to outsmart her attacker and survive.
Her hearing loss ends up being beneficial to her, and her victory is a triumphant one.
While somewhat gruesome at times, the film was regarded with high praise for its interesting lead, and the realistic depiction of her struggle.
Matt Hamill, “The Hammer”
“The Hammer” premiered with the tagline “Deaf. Defiant. Determined.” and lived up to audience expectations. It follows Matt Hamill, a deaf wrestler who uses people’s perceptions of him to succeed and win the National Collegiate Championship.
This film premiered in 2010, making it one of the oldest on this list, but it’s still a rather recent example of movies with deaf/HoH leads. The film has been praised for breaking stereotypes and offering deaf actor Russell Harvard his first lead role.
Shōko Nishimiya, “A Silent Voice”
For those with interest in animated movies, “A Silent Voice” is a recent film that follows Shōya Ishida, a hearing boy, and Shōko Nishimiya, a deaf girl. After bullying Nishimiya throughout childhood, Ishida suffers for his unkind actions and becomes isolated and depressed during his teenage years.
After nearly committing suicide, he decides to seek out and befriend Nishimiya. Ishida redeems himself through acts of good, and the two form a bond while they both struggle with depression. The film received many awards in Japan and was put on the shortlist for the Academy Awards’ “Best Animated Feature”.
Sarah Norman, “Children of a Lesser God”
While it is the oldest on this list, “Children of a Lesser God” should not be forgotten due to its age. The groundbreaking 1986 film was the first to cast a deaf actress in a lead role since the silent film era, and the first female-led film to be nominated for Best Picture.
The movie follows hearing teacher James and deaf janitor Sarah. The two endure relationship struggles, personal differences, and outside perceptions as they struggle to remain together. Critics reported that Marlee Matlin “did not need speech” to give an impressive performance.
Jack Maine, “A Star is Born”
The 2018 remake of a famous film, this version features Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in the starring roles. Cooper’s character, Jack Maine, struggles with alcohol, drugs, and ultimately tinnitus, which is consistently worsening. He meets Ally, a waitress with dreams of becoming a singer and songwriter.
The two spark a relationship, and Jack helps propel Ally to stardom. However, the two struggle with various challenges, and try to balance their love and Ally’s blossoming career.
Interested in seeing more stories about hearing loss in the movies? Keep an eye out for future releases and support deaf actors and actresses. Curious about your own hearing? The Signia hearing test can give you a first indication of whether to seek help from a hearing care professional.