Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, was once considered to have been affected with either elephantiasis or neurofibromatosis type I. However, it is now generally believed that Merrick suffered from the very rare Proteus syndrome. This however has given rise to the common misconception that Neurofibromatosis and "Elephant Man Disease" are one and the same.
It was a problem: how does a guy who is known for the best fart jokes in cinema go on to make The Elephant Man? I had all along the line assiduously kept my name from the project. But after this one conversation, David knew I had more to me.
I guess it was the outsider aspect that appealed to him. And that's where I think we met, mentally. My films, even if they're comic, they're about: 'Let's accept the bizarre. Let's learn more about these creatures, or these Jews.' I know the Elephant Man wasn't Jewish, but, to me, the story had all the aspects of anti-semitism and [Joseph] Merrick had all the traits of the classic wandering Jew.
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