GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Eleven-year-old terminal cancer patient Tommy Michaels is desperate to meet actor Delroy Lindo, the boy’s family announced on Wednesday.
The boy’s parents, Eileen and James Michaels, are working in concert with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to arrange a meeting between their son and Lindo, the veteran British actor who is perhaps best known for his role in the 1992 Spike Lee film “Malcolm X,” in which the now 61-year-old played “West Indian Archie,” a Harlem gangster who served as a mentor to the famed African-American activist in the 1950s.
“Tommy has always said that guy is his favorite actor,” James Michaels said of Lindo, whose big screen credits include his role in the 1999 Lasse Hallström film “The Cider House Rules,” an adaptation of the acclaimed John Irving novel of the same name in which Lindo plays “Arthur Rose,” a migrant-worker-cum-rapist who sexually assaults and subsequently impregnates his own daughter. “At first it was kind of unsettling, especially when some of Tommy’s first words were ‘Delroy’ and ‘Lindo.’ But I’ve grown to accept it over the years, especially after realizing that Mr. Lindo is an exceptionally talented and versatile performer worthy of praise, even if that praise is bestowed upon him by a young boy dying of an incurable disease.”
The younger Michaels, who cites the actor’s role as “Isaak O’Day” in the 2000 film “Romeo Must Die” as the quintessential Lindo performance, suffers from diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, a highly aggressive and difficult-to-treat tumor found at the base of the brain. According to the National Cancer Institute, the median survival rate for children with DIPG is less than one year from diagnosis, a grave prognosis that Michaels, who was diagnosed with DIPG in January of 2013, has managed to outlive in a heroic and inspiring effort that the boy’s mother traces to his refusal to succumb to his disease until he has met his favorite actor.
“Tommy just loves Delroy Lindo so much,” admits Eileen Michaels. “And I think he just won’t let go until he can meet the man who played ‘Colonel Max Wilkins’ in ‘Broken Arrow’ in person.”
Carlos Williams, a spokesperson for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit that arranges experiences for children with life-threatening illnesses, notes his organization is working feverishly to arrange a meeting between Lindo and Michaels, whose relatively curious wish admittedly caught Williams and his colleagues by surprise.
“Many of the kids whose wishes we fulfill want to meet their favorite ballplayer or a professional wrestler or go on a hot air balloon ride or something of that nature,” said Williams, who says his agency has recently been in direct contact with Mr. Lindo on Michaels’ behalf. “But I can’t say I’ve ever heard of anyone, terminal cancer patient or not, who is desperate to meet Delroy Lindo. Though anyone who has seen Mr. Lindo as ‘Rodney Little’ in ‘Clockers’ likely understands where Tommy is coming from.”
While Williams is quick to note the unique nature of Tommy Michaels’ wish, he also is happy to report that a recent discussion with Lindo went well enough to where he’s comfortable saying that a meeting between the fifth grader and the “Gone in Sixty Seconds” actor is likely to take place in the coming weeks.
“Thankfully, Mr. Lindo seemed willing to do whatever it took to meet Tommy,” Williams said. “He was admittedly cautious when I first made contact with him, thinking it was some type of cruel joke and even saying he found it heartbreaking that a dying pre-teen’s last wish was to meet him. But ultimately he came around, especially after I reminded him how excellent he was as ‘Woody Carmichael’ in ‘Crooklyn.’”