Bryan Cranston has defended his portrayal of a disabled character in his new film The Upside, saying it is an actor's job to play different people.

While promoting The Upside, Cranston defended his role, but agreed that that subject was "worthy for debate" and that there should be "more opportunities" for disabled actors, according to the BBC.

The Upside, a remake of the French film The Intouchables, follows a quadriplegic billionaire who forms an unlikely friendship with his new caregiver. The US remake also stars Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman.

Speaking to reporters about the film, Cranston called his casting a "business decision".

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"I think being cast in this role as a quadriplegic really came down to a business decision.

"As actors, we're asked to be other people, to play other people. If I, as a straight, older person, and I'm wealthy, I'm very fortunate, does that mean I can't play a person who is not wealthy, does that mean I can't play a homosexual?

"I don't know, where does the restriction apply, where is the line for that? I think it is worthy for debate to discuss those issues."

Critics have pointed out that the underlying issue is the lack of roles for disabled actors in Hollywood.

The Upside does not yet have a New Zealand cinema release.