Sunday, June 17, 2012
An Exmouth man with learning disabilities is starring in a new film that sees him travel to America and meet his hero – Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.
Tom Spicer, 40, lives at Bystock Court, and suffers from Fragile X syndrome, the most common cause of inherited learning disability.
The film came about after Tom’s brother and sister, Will and Kate, who had grown apart from him while pursuing media careers in London, decided to try and make Tom’s oft-stated dream – “I want to meet Lars” – come true.
And so it was that the siblings boarded a plane to California with the aim of going to a Metallica concert in Sacramento and bringing Tom and Lars together.
The trip was far from an easy one, with Will and Kate falling out and Tom’s condition making him reluctant to even leave their Winnebago, much less attend a heavy metal concert.
However, after much struggle, Tom finally managed to meet his hero, play drums with him, and even join the band as they walked on stage.
The resulting documentary, Mission to Lars, has now been released, and is touring Picturehouse cinemas nationwide – including a screening and Q&A session at the Exeter Picturehouse in Bartholomew Street West tonight at 8pm.
Tom’s mother Sue Cox told the Journal that making the film has proved a positive experience for him.
She said: “He’s grown in confidence. He’ll still get twitchy if we’re going somewhere, but once he gets in the car he’ll be fine.
“The trip to the States has done nothing but good for him. I don’t think people can appreciate how far out of his comfort zone it took him, as with his condition change is very difficult to accept.”
“We’ve been to a few screenings and he revels in it, staying back and signing autographs. He’s really enjoying his fame, and tells everybody he’s a film star and will be very rich.
“It’s given him a sense of identity. It’s shown him he’s very special and much loved, and showed him how much his brother and sister love him – as I think before they were busy building their own lives in London and Tom perhaps felt a bit neglected.”
Sue says that having met Lars and the rest of Metallica, Tom’s devotion to the band is as strong as ever.
“He’s still a huge Metallica fan, wearing their T-shirts all the time, and he’s now very fond of Lars – we’re constantly being asked “What’s Lars doing?”
“One other member of the band, James [Hetfield], is now also creeping into his affections, but we tell him ‘You can’t say that, Lars will be very upset!’.”