Anything Left-Handed > Blog Posts > Famous > Do left-handed actors have to change hands?

Do left-handed actors have to change hands?

We received this in an email from Valerie in Indiana, USA recently and it got us thinking…

Here's an interesting thought I recently had while watching the 2008 version of ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still': Keanu Reeves who plays the alien ‘Klaatu' is left-handed but appears to be right-handed in the movie especially when he's writing on the chalk board. I know I can write right-handed on a chalk board but not on paper.   I wonder if ‘Klaatu' being right-handed was intentional or just something Keanu adapted to for the part because of camera angles and things of that nature.

Do actors have difficulty learning stunts with weapons?   Do they sometimes have to use their right hand because of the angles or what the director wants?     There's many questions about left-handed actors and actresses that I've recently thought about.   Jeremy Renner from ‘The Avengers' is also left-handed but uses both hands in the movie especially in the final fight sequences.

Does anyone else know of instances where left-handed actors or actresses have played a part right-handed, either because the director wanted to make them look like the majority or for other more practical reasons?

And are there any instances of a left-handed real person being played in a film by an actor doing it right-handed?

If you know of any, please add them as comments below.

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63 comments on “Do left-handed actors have to change hands?
  1. Jim says:

    Small point-it is noted several times in Marvel comics and novels that Hawkeye is ambidextrous, and using both of his hands is part of his fighting style.

  2. katie says:

    I know that Dakota fanning and Kristen stewart are right handed but played lefties in the runaways

  3. Matt says:

    Hugh Jackman! In a scene in the Wolverine, he picks up his chopsticks with his left hand, so I guess the makers had no problems with that.

  4. Writer2122 says:

    I can think of hundreds of examples of left-handed actors being forced to look right-handed on screen. Charlie Chaplin was the start and it kept going. Rex Harrison (in old movies. in My Fair Lady he was finally permitted to be the lefty he was). Keanu in several movies. Cary Grant was never allowed to be a lefty on screen. Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich (except when she eats soup in the kitchen – she couldn’t pull that off without burning herself). Bruce Willis is pretty strict with his directors about being a lefty (he even golfs left-handed in Armageddon) yet in The Sixth Sense he was forced to look like he was writing right-handed. I was hoping someone could tell me WHY. Especially in the 30’s and 40’s no one was allowed to be left-handed on screen. Today it’s more tolerated but back then – no way!

    • Diwo says:

      Bruce Willis had to do it, so it wouldnt be so obvious, that he doesnt wear a wedding ring most of the movie, so the viewers wouldn’t guess he’s dead. (The ending explains everything)

    • Stephane says:

      Cary Grant and Charlie Chaplin wrote right handed in their day to day lives too, not just onscreen.
      there are many pics online of both signing autographs right handed.
      Rod Steiger, Anthony Perkins, Kim Novak and Peter Graves all wrote left handed onscreen in the 1950’s so I’m failing to see any severe bias you describe

  5. Gillian Bergh says:

    I was disappointed with a comedy time-travel ‘Fun with Bob and Ted’, which featured some well-known Lefties including Napoleon and Joan of Arc, both played by right-handed actors. It’s not as if there is a shortage of left handed actors.

  6. Tiffany Antopolski says:

    Julia Roberts is left-handed. In Pretty Woman, she was seen writing with her left hand. When playing Erin Brockovich, there is a scene where she is seen writing with her right hand (Erin is right handed).

    • ant cap says:

      Oceans twelve she plays Tess that is trying to play Julia and she writes with her right hand and gets called out on not being Julia because Julia is left handed.

  7. Don Skanes says:

    I’m ambidextrous. Although I write left-handed, I complete most other tasks with my right hand. Therefore, people are usually surprised when I write with my left hand. Anyway, Greg Kinnear writes with his left hand. However, when he played John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, he wrote with his right hand to make it appear as accurately as possible. So, to answer your question: yes, this happens.

  8. cathy says:

    I don’t know if this counts or not but in John Wick, Keanu Reeves writes left handed but shoots right handed.

    • Max Persian says:

      I don’t know about Mr. Reeves, but I’m left handed and shoot a pistol right handed. My right eye has always been my dominant eye, and I made the choice to shoot right handed to have better aim. I fire a rifle right handed for the same reason, but I shoot a bow left handed as it feels too odd right handed.

  9. Sophie says:

    I’m really really sorry but he’s the 11th Doctor, the 12th is Peter Capaldi

    • Kit says:

      From a technical standpoint, Matt (worst Doctor ever) Smith is the 12th Doctor. John Hurt (the War Doctor) is actually number 9, Eccleston is 10, Tennant is 11…

      Smith works right-handed in DW, because the Doctor is right-handed.

      Although… there are pictures of Paul McGann, for the Big Finish audios, that have him pointing the sonic screwdriver with his left.

  10. Terry Miller says:

    When I was in college (35 years ago) I remember watching an episode of General Hospital (I think). One of the
    main female characters was murdered. The murderer staged it to look like she killed herself by stretching her right hand on the floor beside her body and making it look like the victim left a suicide note in her own blood. I noticed months before that the victim was left handed. When it showed her body lying with her bloody right finger next to the
    message it was proof she’d been murdered. However, no one brought up that evidence, it was never referred to as a reason to believe she hadn’t killed herself. Neither the actors, directors, editors or even the actress herself
    noticed that the bloody message had been written with the wrong hand. Of course, there was no internet or
    easy way to to send a message to the network so I’ve kept my testimony to myself all these years. I feel so much better now….

    • M. Patricia Starr says:

      Aahhhhh. Don’t you feel better now that you’ve gotten that off your chest! And to think, if only you had been able to get through, they may have cinched the Emmy that year. C’est la vie!

  11. Marcia Everett says:

    OKAY tot he question. I think it only matters if you are portraying someone, that is known for their handedness. SO if it’s a writer people might KNOW which hand that person writes with, or a musician, or somebody REALLY famous like the President. SO when VIncent D’Onofrio LH played Abbie Hoffman who knows?

  12. Marcia Everett says:

    I’m right handed but I love everytihing left handed ever since i heard about Paul McCartney when I was 8. (I’m 52 now) ALll my favorite actors are left handed, I’ve tried to learn to do things left handed and I think I’m going to learn the bass left handed before I die. What this has to do with the question? Nothing. First time I saw a posting place about left handedness, guess I don’t spend as much time at it as I thought.

  13. Kerri says:

    It isn’t a movie, but Matt Smith, the 12th incarnation if Doctor Who is left handed but almost always used his right hand in his episodes. Not sure why.

  14. Amanda says:

    On the ’90’s tv show Step by Step, 3 of the actors were left handed. Brandon Call-JT Lambert, Christine Lakin-Al Lambert, and Sasha Mitchell-cousin Cody Lambert are all left handed and they weren’t forced to change. The only right handed Lambert sibling was the boy who played Brendan. So apparently, left handedness runs in the Lambert family. And oddly enough, I didn’t realize this until earlier this year when one of the networks started re-running the show and I watched it again.

  15. Mike Griger says:

    I’ve noticed this in movies my whole life because I am also a south paw and so was my old man. Not only did Keanu act right handed as Klaatu, but I know Bruce Willis (another south paw) pretended to be right handed in the sixth sence, I figured actors did this just to challenge themselves more for roles.

  16. Jess says:

    Jennifer Lawrence is left handed and she doesn’t change for the role, making Katniss left-handed in the movie adaptation of the books.

  17. Mani Thangadurai says:

    Nicole Kidman had to switch her hands for a film she did…it was ‘The Hours’ where she had to play the right-handed Virginia Woolf, I think.

    Also. the left-handed R. Kelly had to sign an autograph right-handed for a music video which he made for the soundtrack of ‘Ali’, starring Will Smith.

  18. AladdinSane says:

    Rex Harrison and Cary Grant were two lefties who managed quite well working their right hands in movie afer movie. The exceptions? Harrison in “My Fair Lady” and Grant in “None but the Lonely Heart”…
    Peace…
    AladdinSane

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