Local actor stars in 'Smile as Big as the Moon'

January 29, 2012 10:41:34 AM PST
In 1989, a high school special education teacher changed the requirements for NASA's space camp to allow children with disabilities to participate.

He wrote a memoir about it. The movie premiere's here on ABC Sunday night featuring a local actor with a disability.

"A Smile as Big as the Moon" is an amazing story of a teacher, Mike Kersjes, his class of students with disabilities and their unforgettable journey to Huntsville, Ala.

Local actor Peter Ten Brink plays Ben Schmit, a high school student with down syndrome who dreams of becoming an astronaut.

"When you see the movie, you will see how touching the group of special needs space camp journey through their lives," Brink said. "So you may see drama and some action like how they went and had to be proud of themselves."

The north shore resident has been acting since the age of 8.

"I have been in the 'Music Man' and the "Tree House,' " he said. "I was in the special theater for 11 years now. My first movie I was in was 'By Any Other Name' and that was when I had a break through the wall."

Brink learned about this role from a woman at the National Down Syndrome Association.

"And she pulled my file and she gave it to the acting director," he said. "So I audition for the movie and I meet with a director and later?I got the part" 3:07.

When I interviewed the author Mike Kersjes in 2002, he shared some of the challenges of training for the space camp program. This includes learning to swim, building a tetrahedrons in the water, and learn 150 acronyms that are used during the mission.

In the movie, actor John Corbett plays the author.

"He's a brilliant man, Brink said. " I 'm not saying that he's charming, but he's really nice, he's really (a) brilliant man and he's the kind of man to talk to."

Brink was not the only cast member with a disability in the movie.

As for his future, Brink is hoping to continue his blossoming acting career.

"It's just in my blood, its my passion," he said. "Acting is my number one thing and I cannot live without."