Eddie Redmayne says playing transgender artist Lili Elbe in award-winning film The Danish Girl was a ‘mistake’ and admits he ‘wouldn’t take it on now’ after critics argued the role should’ve gone to a trans actor
- Eddie Redmayne, 39, played transgender artist Lili Elbe in 2015 Danish Girl
- Admitted taking role was ‘mistake’ even though had good intentions at the time
- The actor said he wouldn’t play the trans role if it was offered to him now
Eddie Redmayne has revealed that he thinks playing a trans character for the Danish Girl movie which saw him nominated for an Academy Award was a ‘mistake’ after critics argued the role should’ve gone to a LGBT actor.
The British actor, 39, played transgender artist Lili Elbe, who is thought to be one of the first people to have sex reassignment surgery, alongside Alicia Vikander in the 2015 movie The Danish Girl.
His performance saw him nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars – just a year after taking home the award for his performance as Stephen Hawkins in The Theory of Everything.
But speaking to The Times ahead of the Cabaret show where he plays Emcee, a gender fluid character, Redmayne said he now thinks playing Elbe was a ‘mistake.’
British actor Eddie Redmayne, 39, played transgender artist Lili Elbe, who is thought to be one of the first people to have sex reassignment surgery, alongside Alicia Vikander in the 2015 movie The Danish Girl. But he’s now told the Times he thinks the role was a ‘mistake.’ (pictured in September 2019)
At the time, critics said the role should have been played by a trans actress, and Redmayne now says he wouldn’t take on the role if it was offered to him now.
‘No, I wouldn’t take it on now. I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake,’ said the Fantastic Beasts actor.
‘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.
At the time of Redmayne’s casting for The Danish Girl, there was an argument, which still persists today, that LGBT+ roles should be played by LGBT+ actors.
Redmayne was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as Elbe in the 2015 movie, pictured
Redmayne himself told IndieWire at the time: ‘I think it’s an incredibly important discussion. And I think it’s also representative of a lot of discrimination against trans people in the work place generally.
‘I think there has been years of cisgender success on the back of trans stories.’
Other actors – including Scarlett Johansson – have received flack after being cast as LGBT+ characters.
In 2018, Johansson had to back down from playing transgender man Dante Gill, a.k.a. Tex, who ran a string of massage parlors in the 1970s and ’80s that became fronts for prostitution dens in a movie poised to be titled ‘Rub & Tug.’
The Fantastic Beast actor said he wouldn’t accept the role if it was offered to him now. Pictured in The Danish girl with Alicia Vikander
Redmayne in the movie before Elbe’s transition. The actor said trans actors should have a seat at th table when discussing representation
‘While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film,’ she said at the time.
When Johansson’s casting as Gill was announced, transgender actress Trace Lysette wrote on Twitter: ‘Not only do you play us and steal our narrative and our opportunity but you pat yourselves on the back with trophies and accolades for mimicking what we have lived.
In 2020, The Fantastic Beast And Where To Find Them star joined in the chorus of critics towards J.K Rowling, 54, after she tweeted about an article entitled ‘Creating a more equal post COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.’
Pictured: Redmayne with his wife, Hannah Bagshawe, with whom he shares two children, in July
At the time Redmayne was cast as Elbe, pictured, people argued the role should be played by a trans actress
Rowling wrote: ‘People who menstruate. I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’
In a statement released to Variety, Eddie responded: ‘As someone who has worked with both J.K. Rowling and members of the trans community…
‘I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand. I disagree with Jo’s comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid.’
Rowling has caused a storm in the trans community and among her peers and fan base, as she was accused of transphobia with the comments.
Eddie and his wife in October at the e Alexander McQueen SS22 Womenswear Show at The Standard
Eddie has worked with Rowling since 2016, after starring as Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts series, which is based on the 2001 book by Rowling.
His entire statement read: ‘Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative, and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself…
‘This is an ongoing process. As someone who has worked with both J.K. Rowling and members of the trans community, I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand. I disagree with Jo’s comments…
‘Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid. I would never want to speak on behalf of the community but I do know that my dear transgender friends and colleagues are tired of this constant questioning of their identities, which all too often results in violence and abuse…
‘They simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it’s time to let them do so.
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