Francesco Clark's 'Walking Papers' appears in the film
Credit: Alex Bailey

Me Before You, the adaptation of Jojo Moynes’ best-selling book starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin as a quadriplegic financier and Emilia Clarke as his bubbly caretaker, has drawn acclaim for its delightful performances and tragic love story. However, the “tragic” part of that love story has angered activists. (Warning: Spoilers ahead). The movie ends with Claflin’s character choosing assisted suicide rather than living out his life as a quadriplegic. Author Francesco Clark is the latest activist to take anger with Me Before You because his memoir Walking Papers is referenced in the film.

“I’ve worked tirelessly to show people that being quadriplegic isn’t the end of your life, it’s another beginning,” Clark told Page Six. “While I am by no means taking a stance on the issue of assisted suicide, I feel compelled to express that I am angry to be unwittingly associated with a storyline that suggests the only option for those who sustain injuries like mine is death.”

Walking Papers tells the story of Clark’s life after an accident in his early 20s left him paralyzed from the neck down (not unlike Claflin’s character in the film). He is an ambassador for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which funds spinal cord injury research, and founded his own skincare line, Clark’s Botanicals, to help people with injuries like his. He said he was not consulted about the use of his memoir in Me Before You, and is dismayed by the association.

“I had no involvement in the making of this movie, and am in fact saddened by the association,” Clark said. “I will continue to spread a message of positivity and hope for those who have experienced spinal cord injuries, either directly or as a loved one. I am a prime example, along with many others, that life does not just ‘go on,’ it gets better and better with each day.”

Me Before You
  • Movie
  • 111 minutes