Five Feet Apart star Cole Sprouse has said the film is about giving “proper representation” to cystic fibrosis sufferers.
Sprouse stars alongside Haley Lu Richardson in the romantic drama as two teenagers who meet in hospital while being treated for the disorder.
The title is a reference to the medical advice for cystic fibrosis patients to stay six feet apart to minimise the risk of cross infection – until Richardson’s character suggests taking a step closer.
Sprouse, 26, said his motivation for starring in the film was to raise awareness of the illness, which primarily affects the lungs and can be fatal.
Speaking at the film’s premiere in Los Angeles, he told the Press Association: “That’s one of our mission statements of the movie. Justin (Baldoni, director), who eased a lot of my trepidation for the film, was about respectful and proper representation of the community in question and that’s what inspired me to want to take the role in the first place.”
Sprouse, whose Riverdale co-star Luke Perry died on Monday after suffering a stroke, said he hopes audiences walk away from Five Feet Apart with a different outlook on life.
He said: “I hope they take away an awareness of the disease in question and it’s about taking life for granted and I hope the extraordinary circumstances of the two characters can get them to re-think their own.”
Kimberly Hebert Gregory plays the nurse charged with keeping Sprouse and Richardson’s characters apart.
The American actress said she wants the film to make those with cystic fibrosis feel like they have a voice.
She said: “Seeing yourself reflected in the world is important. Not having representation isolates you and makes you feel alone and I’m hoping being in a film that brings a voice to a group that hasn’t had much of a voice is really thrilling and I hope people in that demographic think ‘yes, they see us’ and we have more of these moments.”
Five Feet Apart will be released in the UK on March 22.