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HIV Positive Extra In 'Philadelphia' Reflects On Film's 20th Anniversary

Twenty years ago, today, a film that changed the conversation about AIDS in America opened in theaters.

“Philadelphia” starred Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks, and it won box-office success and critical acclaim.

It netted two Oscars, including one for Hanks who won a Best Actor award for his portrayal of Andrew Beckett, an HIV-positive lawyer who sues his former law firm after he’s unjustly fired.

“Philadelphia” also featured actors whose real lives mirrored the movie: several dozen extras were HIV-positive Philadelphians.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, WHYY‘s Elana Gordon brings us the story of one of those actors, who is now creating a new script for life with HIV.


  • Elana Gordon, health and science reporter for WHYY. She tweets @Elana_Gordon.

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Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in the 1993 film, "Philadelphia." (Clinica Estetico via WHYY)
Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in the 1993 film, "Philadelphia." (Clinica Estetico via WHYY)