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Dan Aykroyd is an autistic actor and screenwriter. His career hits include Saturday Night Live, The Blues Brothers, and Ghostbusters.

Early life

Aykroyd was born on July 1, 1952 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. His parents are Lorraine Hélène (Gougeon) and Samuel Cuthbert Peter Hugh Aykroyd.[1] He considered his childhood very happy.[2]

At age 12, Aykroyd was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. He experienced tics, grunting noises, and nervousness. These were improved in therapy and his symptoms had eased by age 14.[3]

Aykroyd attended Carleton University in 1969, where he dropped out shortly before completing his degree in Criminology and Sociology.[4] He then worked as a comedian in various nightclubs.

Career

Aykroyd was on the cast of Saturday Night Live for its first four seasons, 1975-1979. He "brought a unique sensibility to the show, combining youth, unusual interests, talent as an impersonator and an almost lunatic intensity."[5] He received an Emmy for his writing on the show in 1977.

Later, Aykroyd and his friend John Belushi created the Blues Brothers, along musicians including Steve Cropper, Lou Marini, Alin Rubin, and Donald "Duck" Dunn.

Aykroyd also wrote the scripts for Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989).

He has also acted, written, and directed many other movies.[1]

Autism

"My very mild Asperger’s has helped me creatively. I sometimes hear a voice and think: “That could be a character I could do.”"[2]
Aykroyd was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in the 1980s, after his wife Donna encouraged him to see a doctor.[3] He views some of his strengths as stemming from the condition. For example, his special interests in ghosts and police led to Ghostbusters.[6]
"One of my symptoms included my obsession with ghosts and law enforcement — I carry around a police badge with me, for example. I became obsessed by Hans Holzer, the greatest ghost hunter ever. That’s when the idea of my film Ghostbusters was born."[3]
These special interests were also helpful in Blues Brothers, Aykroyd noted. "They were classic recidivists, they could never stay out of trouble, always looking for it, borderline sociopathic hedonists, and I was well armed criminological terms and knowledge."[6]



References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Film Reference: Dan Aykroyd Biography (1952 - )
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Guardian: Dan Aykroyd: ‘My Harley-Davidson is a form of psychiatric therapy. You get on that and you don’t need a shrink’
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Daily Mail: 'I have Asperger's - one of my symptoms included being obsessed with ghosts': Under the microscope with Dan Aykroyd
  4. IMDb: Dan Aykroyd Biography
  5. Wikipedia: Dan Aykroyd (Retrieved Sept. 1 2015)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Child Mind Institute: Dan Aykroyd Says Being on the Spectrum Helped Him Make Ghostbusters

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