×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Venice: Eddie Redmayne, ‘Danish Girl’ Helmer Tom Hooper on Transgender Challenges

Hooper said he champions shift in industry towards embracing trans actors

VENICE — “The Danish Girl,” in which Eddie Redmayne plays Lili Elbe, one of the earliest known recipients of male-to-female gender reassignment surgery, drew long applause from global journos after its Venice world premiere screening and raised plenty of timely transgender issues at its subsequent packed press conference.

Redmayne, whose performance is already generating awards buzz after his Oscar for playing Stephen Hawking, said the whole process for him “was the most mammoth education.”

“I met many people from the trans community, both men and women. I tried to meet people of different generations because the story is set at a time [between 1926 and 1931] when there was no precedent.

“Across the board the generosity of people was amazing. There was one particular couple in Los Angeles, a woman called Cadence and her partner Trista; they had been together when she was living as a man, and they are still together,” Redmayne recounted. “They allowed me to ask anything.

“There were two things Kadence said: one was that she would do anything and everything to live a life authentic, and the other thing was in relation to her partner. While she was transitioning, the question for her was: ‘How deep was her partner’s pool of empathy?’ Those two things sat with me all the way through the whole filmmaking process.”

About Redmayne’s preparation, director Tom Hooper said, “From the very beginning we talked in terms of the idea that Eddie was playing a woman that was going to be revealed. So rather than it being a process of how Eddie might learn to imitate a woman it was about how he might create the impression that he was uncovering a latent femininity, a woman inside. This guided us through the process.”

Answering an odd question about the whether a sex-change operation can be considered a crime from a purely medical standpoint, Hooper said, “The world has shifted profoundly on Lili’s story. I hope now that a trans woman or trans man going through transition would not feel the same pressure to go the surgical route if he or she did not feel comfortable with that.

“I think to some extent that the villain in the piece, if there is one, is dualism. The idea that there is a duality. That if you are not a man you have to be operated on fully to become a woman. That if you are not a woman, you need to be surgically corrected to be a man. I do think we are evolving beyond the binary and thinking about gender as a spectrum. There can be very complicated places on that spectrum.”

Asked why he did not pick a transgender actor for the lead role, Hooper replied, “Access to trans actors, women and men, to roles, both trans roles and cisgender roles, is utterly key, and I feel that within the industry at the moment there is a problem. There is a huge pool of talented trans actors and the access to parts is limited. I would champion any shift where the industry could move forward and embrace trans actors in trans and cisgender roles and also celebrate and encourage trans filmmakers.

“In terms of the casting of Eddie, I’m going to say something that would be easier to say if Eddie weren’t sitting next to me, but I think there is something in Eddie that’s drawn to the feminine,” he added.

But ultimately “The Danish Girl” is a love story, as  Alicia Vikander, who plays Gerda Wegener, the woman artist who is married to Lili before her transition and supports her throughout, pointed out.

“Like everyone else I was attracted to the extraordinary love story that is extremely passionate and extremely unique,” she said. “I fell in love with the fact that it’s just a love story between two people. Above all it’s a story about how to love yourself. Gerda was extremely ahead of her time.”

More Film

  • 'Death Stranding' is a 'Playground of

    'Death Stranding' is a 'Playground of Possibilities,' Will Make You Cry

    The Thursday evening conversation between game-making auteur Hideo Kojima and “Walking Dead” actor Norman Reedus about highly-anticipated PlayStation 4 game “Death Stranding” was filled with interesting anecdotes, but little in the way of hard fact. Instead, Kojima made a promise of sorts to the audience and seemingly fans everywhere waiting for more news on the [...]

  • Trailer for Cannes Directors’ Fortnight Entry

    Watch: Trailer for Cannes Directors’ Fortnight Entry ‘Song Without a Name’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID — Peru’s La Vida Misma and Paris-based sales agent Luxbox have dropped the first trailer and poster of Melina Leon’s “Canción sin nombre” (“Song Without a Name”), selected this week for the Cannes Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight. Written by Leon and Michael J. White, “Song Without a Name” sums up some of ambitions and focus [...]

  • 'Aladdin,' 'Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,' 'Shaft' Set

    'Aladdin,' 'Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,' 'Shaft' Set for China Debuts

    Disney’s new live-action “Aladdin” will release in China on May 24, day-and-date with North America, giving the studio a run of three films in Chinese theaters as many months.  Two other Hollywood titles will also hit the big screen in the Middle Kingdom in the coming months: “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu” on May 10 and the [...]

  • Patrimonio

    Film Review: 'Patrimonio'

    Though it never really went away on much of the globe, a sort of creeping feudalism is making such a striking comeback — with the ever-more-fabulously-rich squeezing the poor of every dime and resource — that Lisa F. Jackson and Sarah Teale’s documentary “Patrimonio” feels like a frightening portent. Will such crude appropriations of land [...]

  • Fan Bingbing

    Fan Bingbing Starts to Re-Emerge Months After Tax Scandal

    Half a year after she was found guilty of tax fraud and disappeared from the public eye, Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing has begun to signal her comeback, attending a gala event and launching her own beauty product on social media this week. The 37-year-old actress unexpectedly hit the red carpet in Beijing on Monday at [...]

  • I Trapped the Devil

    Film Review: 'I Trapped the Devil'

    “I Trapped the Devil” sounds like the title of a sermon or gospel song, but it’s a very literal-minded statement coming from the mouth of a leading character in writer-director Josh Lobo’s debut feature. This being a horror film, there’s a chance he’s even literally correct, rather than simply mad. A mixed-bag frightfest, IFC’s limited [...]

  • American Factory

    Tribeca Film Review: 'American Factory'

    When the last truck rolled off the assembly line of the General Motors factory outside Dayton, Ohio, filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert were there to film it, documenting the end of a certain American dream, along with the unemployment of more than 2,000 people — down from 6,000 in more prosperous times. That was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content