A New Mexico-based actor who has appeared in AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” the western TV drama “Longmire” and the 2009 movie “The Men Who Stare at Goats” says he cut off his own arm and pretended to be a wounded veteran in hopes of furthering his acting career.
In a video interview with Albuquerque’s KOB-4 TV, Todd Lawson Latourette, who is bipolar, said he was off his medications and in the midst of a psychotic episode 17 years ago when he cut off his right forearm with a Skilsaw and cauterized it himself.
“I don’t want to say the word ‘insanity’ because the mentally ill – we’re so far from insane,” he said tearfully of his mental state at the time.
“We are your brothers, your mothers, your sisters. And we hurt.”
Latourette later fashioned his own prosthetic forearm and hand. He also began lying about the cause of his disability, saying he sustained the wound in combat. It worked, he insisted. Casting directors started booking him for roles.
“The film industry obviously took a different angle,” he recalled. “That I was different. And so they liked that.”
He added, “They trusted me that I was exactly who I said I was, that I was a war veteran. I was hired because I lied.”
According to IMDB, Latourrette’s first role was in the 2002 horror film “Unspeakable,” starring Dennis Hopper.
He also appeared in the 2008 Toby Keith movie “Beer for My Horses,” and the following year, he was onscreen again in the George Clooney film “The Men Who Stare at Goats.” His most recent role was during the fifth episode of the current season of the Albuquerque-based “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul.”
But the lie weighed on him to the point where he felt had to come clean.
“It’s been so difficult to live with,” he told the TV station. “It’s been years since I told that lie.”
“I was dishonorable. I’m killing my career by doing this,” he acknowledged, adding that he doesn’t expect his admission to be met with forgiveness. “If anyone thinks this was for personal edification, that’s not the case. I’m ousting myself from the New Mexico film industry. And gladly so, just to say what I’ve said.”
Latourette says he hopes he can serve as a cautionary tale for other people with bipolar disorder.
“The power is in your hands to take that medication in the morning and at night so that this discourse of my life doesn’t necessarily need to be yours. Because it happens quick.”