Raymond Babbitt (Rain Man)

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Raymond Babbitt
Portrayed by Dustin Hoffman
Appears in Rain Man
Year 1988

Raymond "Ray" Babbitt is a main character in the American drama movie Rain Man.

Character creation

Writer Barry Morrow created the character after meeting Kim Peek and based the characterization on both Kim Peek and Bill Sackter. Kim Peek is a savant with a developmental disability. Bill Sackter was a man with intellectual disability who was a friend of Morrow and had inspired an earlier film of his, Bill, brought out in 1981.[1][2]

The brothers Peter and Kevin Guthrie also served as prototypes for the story—Kevin being allistic, and Peter being autistic.Many interactions between Ray and his brother Charlie are inspired by Peter and Kevin.[3][4]

Ruth Sullivan, an early advocate for people with autism and mother of the autistic Joseph Sullivan, was a consultant for the movie. Actor Dustin Hoffman studied Joseph in preparation for this role. He also watched the documentary Portrait of an Autistic Young Man about Joseph, as well as its outtakes. Joseph was also invited to meet Hoffman during filming.[5]

Bernard Rimland, an early researcher of autism and father of the autistic Mark Rimland, also served as a consultant. The character of Raymond Babbit was initially intended to have intellectual disability, but Rimland suggested he be an autistic savant instead.[6]

Hoffman almost quit the role, suggesting Richard Dreyfuss instead. However, in a scene where Raymond Babbit talks about his underwear, the role clicked for Hoffman.[7]

Earlier drafts of the script include the brothers being chased by a motorcycle gang—the 80s were particularly big on action movies after coming out of the character-driven movies of the 70s and Rain Man was in the awkward spot of being too expensive for an indie character movie while not being big and bold enough to throw serious money at.[8]


Raymond has been living in an institution since around age 18. His brother, Charlie Babbitt, is unaware of Ray's existence until he learns that Ray inherits nearly all of their father's estate (valued at US$3 million).


Raymond is stated to be an autistic savant within the film.


A premier was held in Huntington for Autism Services Center (ASC), an organization started by Ruth Sullivan. ASC used the proceeds to buy its first house.[9]


Rain Man was the first major movie to showcase autism to the general public. Initial reactions from loved ones of autistic people were positive, citing increased awareness and understanding of autism—although there were also concerns that the movie could give people the mistaken idea that all autistic people are also savants.[10][11]

The movie won 4 Oscars: best picture (Mark Johnson), best director (Barry Levinson), best actor in leading role (Dustin Hoffman) and best screenplay written directly for the screen (Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow). It was also nominated for but did not win best original score (Hans Zimmer), best art direction (Ida Random and Linda DeScenna), best cinematography (John Seale) and best film editing (Stu Linder).[12]

During his acceptance speech, Hoffman thanks Kim Peek, Joseph and Ruth Sullivan, and Peter and Kevin Guthrie.[13]


"Rain man" has become a shorthand for autism and is used in a variety of contexts to refer to characters that are autistic, have (perceived) autistic traits, or are savants. It is often meant in a mildly demeaning manner. Autistic characters that are referred to as "rain man" within the work they appear in include Abed Nadir, Terry Marshall, Rosa Reyes, Nick Young, Aaron Pratt, Gary Bell, Sammy Sparks and Judy Wagrowski. Non-autistic characters with (perceived) autistic traits that are referred to with the term include Zoey Davis from Escape Room. Reviewers may also compare movies with autistic characters to Rain Man, especially if there are other thematic connections as well. Examples of this include The Fool on the Hill and The Odd Way Home.


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