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Eddie Redmayne on Playing Transgender Role in The Danish Girl: “I Wouldn’t Take It on Now”


Eddie Redmayne has spoken out many times about his role in The Danish Girl, in which he played a trans woman. Once again, he is expressing his regret about taking the role.

Directed by Tom Hooper, the 2015 romantic biopic (loosely) told the story of of Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili Elbe was a Danish painter and transgender woman, and Wegener, an illustrator and painter, married Elbe prior to her transition. Because Danish law at the time did not recognize marriage between two women, their marriage was annulled in October 1930 by King Christian X, after nearly 30 years of marriage.

The movie was inspired by the novel by David Ebershoff, which also fictionalized events in the lives of both women.

When the movie was released, with lead actors Redmayne (Elbe) and Alicia Vikander (Wegener), there was also a frustration that this was a depiction of a trans, queer romance told mostly though the lens of cis men—not to mention the fact that they changed the cause of Elbe’s death from organ rejection due to a uterus transplant (her fifth operation). Instead, in the film, she dies after the second sex reassignment surgery.

At the time, trans writer Carol Grant said that the casting of Redmayne was “regressive, reductive, and contributes to harmful stereotypes.”

She added, “What should’ve been a celebration of a very complex, compelling transgender figure is instead transmisogynist, and just plain-old misogynist in general.”

It’s discomforting as hell being so early in my own transition and seeing words like “bravery” and “heroism” used to describe Redmayne, even though he’ll be able to shed off the experience after his probable Oscar win, all the while having it be a matter-of-fact point of life for me and millions other trans women like me.

During an interview with the Sunday Times, Redmayne said the criticism was justified and reaffirmed that taking the role was a “mistake” and he wouldn’t accept it if it were offered today.

“No, I wouldn’t take it on now,” the 39-year-old star said. “The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many people don’t have a chair at the table. There must be a levelling, otherwise we are going to carry on having these debates.”

It is great that Redmayne has not stepped away from this conversation because there is a reason we keep having it. There are more chairs at the table, but not enough by far.

(via CNN, image: Focus Features)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.