The film was deemed an instant classic and was nominated for eight Academy Awards. In the early s, Reeve was in three roles for television in which he was cast as a villain. The movie got fair to positive reviews. It is on home video in the UK, but not in the US. In another television movie, Mortal Sins , Reeve for the second time played a Catholic priest, this time hearing the confessions of a serial murderer in a role reminiscent of that of Montgomery Clift in Hitchcock 's I Confess. In , Reeve was elected as a co-president of the Creative Coalition. The organization's work was noticed nationwide, and the Democratic Party asked Reeve to run for the United States Congress.
He replied, "Run for Congress?
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And lose my influence in Washington? This meant moving to Los Angeles, which would place him even further from Matthew and Alexandra, who lived in London. In Massachusetts, Reeve could take a Concorde and see them anytime. He declined the offers. Reeve did not mind making trips, however; he went to New Mexico to shoot Speechless , co-starring Michael Keaton who, like Reeve, also portrayed a famous DC Comics superhero on film: Reeve then went to Point Reyes to shoot John Carpenter 's film Village of the Damned , a remake of a British movie of the same name.
He did research at a rehabilitation hospital in Van Nuys and learned how to use a wheelchair to get in and out of cars. Reeve was then offered the lead in Kidnapped , to be shot in Ireland. He was excited to be going to Ireland, and he and Dana decided that they would conceive their second child there. Reeve also planned to direct his first big screen film, a romantic comedy entitled Tell Me True.
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Not long after making these plans, the family went to Culpeper, Virginia , for an equestrian competition. Following the first Superman movie, Reeve realized that Hollywood producers wanted him to be an action star. He later said, "I found most of the scripts of that genre poorly constructed, and I felt the starring roles could easily be played by anyone with a strong physique.
After considering it, Reeve decided that he would be miscast, and Lean went with his second choice, Mel Gibson. Prior to the filming of Hannibal , Reeve was offered the part of primary antagonist Mason Verger, based on his work as a wheelchair-using police officer in Above Suspicion. Not having read the novel , Reeve was initially enthusiastic about the opportunity. However, upon realizing that Verger was a quadriplegic, facially disfigured child rapist, Reeve withdrew from the project in disgust.
The role was accepted by secondary choice Gary Oldman. Reeve began his involvement in horse riding in after learning to ride for the film Anna Karenina. He was initially allergic to horses, so he took antihistamines.
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He trained on Martha's Vineyard , and by , he began eventing. His allergies soon disappeared. Reeve purchased a year-old American thoroughbred horse named Eastern Express, nicknamed "Buck" while filming Village of the Damned. He trained with Buck in and planned to do Training Level events in and move up to Preliminary in Though Reeve had originally signed up to compete at an event in Vermont , his coach invited him to go to the Commonwealth Dressage and Combined Training Association finals at the Commonwealth Park equestrian center in Culpeper, Virginia. Reeve finished in fourth place out of 27 in the dressage , before walking his cross-country course.
He was concerned about jumps 16 and 17 but paid little attention to the third jump, which was a routine three-foot-three fence shaped like the letter 'W'. On May 27, , Reeve's horse made a refusal. Witnesses said that the horse began the third fence jump and suddenly stopped. Reeve fell forward off the horse, holding on to the reins.
His hands somehow became tangled in the reins , and the bridle and bit were pulled off the horse. He landed head first on the far side of the fence, shattering his first and second vertebrae. This cervical spinal injury , which paralyzed him from the neck down,  also halted his breathing. Paramedics arrived three minutes later and immediately took measures to get air into his lungs. He was taken first to the local hospital, before being flown by helicopter to the University of Virginia Medical Center.
For the first few days after the accident , Reeve suffered from delirium , woke up sporadically and would mouth words to Dana such as "Get the gun" and "They're after us. His lungs were filling with fluid and were suctioned by entry through the throat; this was said to be the most painful part of Reeve's recovery. After considering his situation, believing that not only would he never walk again, but that he might never move a body part again, Reeve considered suicide.
He mouthed to Dana, "Maybe we should let me go. I will support whatever you want to do because this is your life, and your decision. But I want you to know that I'll be with you for the long haul, no matter what. And I love you. Reeve went through inner anguish in the ICU , particularly when he was alone during the night. His approaching operation to reattach his skull to his spine in June "was frightening to contemplate.
I already knew that I had only a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the surgery. Then, at an especially bleak moment, the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. It was Robin Williams , reprising his character from the film Nine Months. Jane performed surgery to repair Reeve's neck vertebrae. He put wires underneath both laminae and used bone from Reeve's hip to fit between the C1 and C2 vertebrae.
He inserted a titanium pin and fused the wires with the vertebrae, then drilled holes in Reeve's skull and fitted the wires through to secure the skull to the spinal column. He was given several blood transfusions in the first few weeks because of very low hemoglobin and protein levels. Many times his breathing tube would become disconnected and he would be at the mercy of nurses to come in and save his life.
At the Institute, one of his aides was a Jamaican man named Glenn Miller, nicknamed Juice, who helped him learn how to get into the shower and how to use a powered wheelchair , which was activated by blowing air through a straw. Whilst in Israel , Reeve had shown significant improvement to his condition. Earlier, he had shown ability to move his left hand index finger , later progressing further by regaining back ability to move his arms and legs to a certain extent.
In July , Christopher Reeve's continuing frustration with the pace of stem cell research in the U. During his visit, Reeve called the experience "a privilege" and said, "Israel has very proactive rehab facilities, excellent medical schools and teaching hospitals, and an absolutely first-rate research infrastructure.
After meeting dozens of Israeli patients who had undergone groundbreaking recovery processes and made remarkable progress, Reeve was in awe  and described the feeling as "almost overwhelming". He explained, "The research progresses more rapidly in Israel than almost anywhere else I can think of. The decision they made about stem cells, where they had a debate and decided that secular law must prevail over religious teachings, is something that we need to learn in the United States.
When asked what Israel is doing that other countries are not, Reeve responded, "They have a very progressive atmosphere here. They have socialized medicine so that doctors and patients do not have the problem of profit or trying to get insurance companies to pay for treatment. They also work very well together.
They share their knowledge. This is a country of six million people about the size of Long Island , and everyone works together very tremendously. The people of the country benefit from that. Israelis were very receptive to Reeve's visit, calling him an inspiration to all and urging him never to give up hope.
Reeve left Kessler feeling inspiration from the other patients he had met. Because the media was constantly covering him, he decided to use his name to put focus on spinal cord injuries. In , he appeared at the Academy Awards to a long standing ovation and gave a speech about Hollywood 's duty to make movies that face the world's most important issues head-on.
He traveled across the country to make speeches, never needing a teleprompter or a script. A Film About Abilities. He then acted in a small role in the film A Step Towards Tomorrow. He co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, which is now one of the leading spinal cord research centers in the world.
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This technology has helped several paralyzed patients walk again. Dana Reeve said, "There's such a difference in his outlook, his health, his overall sense of well-being when he's working at what he loves, which is creative work. Throughout this time, Reeve kept his body as physically strong as possible by using specialized exercise machines. He did this both because he believed that intense physical therapy could regenerate the nervous system , and because he wanted his body to be strong enough to support itself if a cure was found.
In , he began to regain some motor function , and he was able to sense hot and cold temperatures on his body. Louis , asked him if anything was new with his recovery. Reeve then moved his left index finger on command. McDonald would have been more surprised if I had just walked on water," said Reeve in an interview. In , Reeve was elected to serve on the board of directors for the company TechHealth, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, which provides products and services to severely injured patients.
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While serving on the TechHealth board, Reeve participated in board meetings and advised the company on strategic direction. He made phone calls to the company's catastrophically injured patients to cheer them up. Reeve served on TechHealth's board until his death in Its mission is to teach paralyzed people to live more independently.
Reeve said, "When somebody is first injured or as a disease progresses into paralysis, people don't know where to turn.
Dana and I wanted a facility that could give support and information to people. With this new Center, we're off to an amazing start. Reeve lobbied for expanded federal funding on embryonic stem cell research to include all embryonic stem cell lines in existence and for self-governance to make open-ended scientific inquiry of the research.
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