Chris Cooper


Chris Cooper will narrate the historical portions of Intelligent Lives. Cooper won the 2003 Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his 2003 role in Adaptation. He has been an actor on stage, screen, and television for three decades, with notable roles inLone Star, American Beauty, Seabiscuit, The Bourne Identity, October Sky, August Osage County, Lonesome Dove, and dozens of other films.

In 1987, Cooper and his wife, Marianne Leone, had their son, Jesse. Jesse loved to windsurf and write poetry, and he also had cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Cooper and Leone became advocates for inclusive education, and Jesse became a high school honor student. In 2005, Jesse died suddenly from a seizure at age 17. Leone wrote the 2010 book Jesse: A Mother's Story, and she and Cooper continue to volunteer their time and resources for non-profits focused on disability rights.


The perception of intelligence is a powerful force in the systematic segregation, maltreatment, and unfulfilled potential of hundreds of millions of individuals with disabilities in the U.S. and worldwide. The documentary film project Intelligent Lives (working title) explores how the segregation of people with intellectual disabilities became the norm, why this segregation is slowly being dismantled, and how some people with intellectual disabilities are blazing a bold new path.

Chris Cooper