Tony Johnston (Journey of the Heart)

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Tony Johnston
Portrayed by Jer Adrianne Lelliott (as Jeremy Lelliott)(child)
Chris Demetral (young adult)[1]
Appears in Journey of the Heart
Year 1997

Tony Johnston is a main character in the American drama movie Journey of the Heart.

Character creation

The character is based on the real-life blind autistic musical savant Tony DeBlois.[2] The closing sequence of the movie features DeBlois himself playing the piano.


Tony is blind due to retinopathy of prematurity. His father left him when he was young due to his disabilities. His mother Janice is subject of the town's gossip because she's a single mother, because Tony is autistic, and because his younger brother Jay is a troublemaker. They move out of their small town in West Texas to Boston so Tony can go to a private school for blind children, but Janice struggles to get him in because it's so expensive and exclusive. However, they let him in when they learn he's won a piano competition. Dr. Lionel wants to bring him to New York for research, Janice wants him to become a concert pianist, and his music teacher Thomas DeBlois wants to protect his passion for music. Meanwhile, Jay is getting frustrated with the attention Tony receives, and Tony wants to be normal like Jay. Thomas suggests he goes to Berklee College of Music in Boston, but for that, he must make an original composition. He must also perform a duet, his partner for this is Julia, a girl who's also heard him playing from his apartment. They start falling in love and Tony wants to be more independent, but Janice keeps pushing him to compose instead. However, she finally lets him go when she hears a song he's composed for Julia.


He is stated to be autistic in the movie. He is initially nonspeaking, but learns to talk when he starts playing the piano. He is a musical savant and can play songs by ear. The term "savant syndrome" is also used.


External links