Keir Gilchrist Might Not Be Autistic, but He Is a Fantastic Actor

Is Keir Gilchrist autistic? 'Atypical' fans are wondering: Was Sam's role given to someone with firsthand experience of autism spectrum disorder?

Leila Kozma - Author

Jul. 13 2021, Published 7:26 p.m. ET

Keir Gilchrist
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Keir Gilchrist made his debut in the 2004 drama The Right Way, and his career picked up swiftly afterward. By 2018, he landed roles in blockbusters like a rom-com about a budding love story between two psychiatry patients, It's Kind of a Funny Story, and the horror movie, It Follows. 

However, most viewers will be familiar with the actor from the Netflix series, Atypical. His exceptional performance led some fans to wonder: Is Keir Gilchrist autistic like his onscreen character? 

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Keir Gilchrist is an incredibly talented actor, an amateur photographer blessed with an eagle eye for the best snaps, and an enthusiastic traveler and adventurer. 

He cites two highly successful economists as his close relatives, David Wilfred and Douglas Peters. He was awarded his first serious recognition as an actor in 2013, when he won the Best Actor category of the Williamsburg Independent Film Festival for his performance in Seasick Sailor. But it's not the facts that we're here for.

is keir gilchrist autistic
Source: Getty Images
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 Let's settle the matter once and for all: Is Keir Gilchrist autistic?

Long story short: He is not. Which goes to show just how talented and exceptionally prepared of an actor he really is.  

Which resources did Keir rely on for his role in 'Atypical'? 

In a previous interview with Variety, the actor lists books and memoirs the creator of Atypical, Robia Rashid, recommended for him to peruse. 

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These include David Finch's 2012 memoir, The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband, which chronicles the demise of David's marriage, his first attempts to seek professional help and his eventual diagnosis with Asperger syndrome. It was this volume that Keir relied on the most during the shooting. 

is keir gilchrist autistic
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How does 'Atypical' portray autism? 

In addition to Keir's precise, perfectly timed, richly detailed acting, Atypical illustrates the increased, overwhelming sensory phenomena those living with autism frequently describe via a set of additional visual effects, special editing techniques, and first-person voiceovers. To provide an accurate portrayal the community will find relatable, the creators of the show also relied on the help of an on-set consultant, explained Robia to Vulture.

Hang on, what exactly is 'Atypical' about? 

The Netflix coming of age drama zooms in on the everyday life of a teenage boy, Sam (Keir), who has to tackle challenges like falling in love for the first time, finding friends at high school, and maintaining good relationships with his protective sister, Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine), well-meaning though somewhat intrusive mother Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and quiet dad Doug (Michael Rapaport), while also managing his symptoms. 

This arc continued throughout the show's four seasons, ending after a 38 episode run. The final season really honed in on Sam's relationship with his father and his attempt to venture out into the world alone as he moves into an apartment with his friend Zahid (Nik Dodani).

The final season's finale had many in tears — and if you haven't seen it yet, you'll be touched to learn it brings much of Sam's story full circle and concludes with a scene the creators have been holding onto since Season 2. The season finale aired on July 9.

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