By Michael Roddy
VENICE (Reuters) â€“ Eddie Redmayne said transgender people helped him prepare for his portrayal of transsexual pioneer Lili Elbe in â€œThe Danish Girlâ€ that opened on Saturday at the Venice Film Festival, even if no transgender person got the main role.
â€œAcross the board the generosity of people was amazing,â€ Redmayne said at a press conference launching the film about Danish landscape painter Einar Wegener.
Wegener was born male in 1882 but began living as a woman after his marriage and had the first of several sex reassignment operations in 1930. She died in 1931 but left diaries and her life was fictionalised in the book â€œThe Danish Girlâ€.
Director Tom Hooper, who made â€œThe Kingâ€™s Speechâ€, said the film industry did not make sufficient use of transgender actors and actresses, but defended his choice of Redmayne to play Elbe.
â€œI think thereâ€™s something in Eddie thatâ€™s drawn to the feminine,â€ Hooper said, citing Redmayneâ€™s casting in a womanâ€™s role in a stage production of Shakespeareâ€™s â€œTwelfth Nightâ€.
â€œI think also to some extent in our film Lili is presenting as a man for the majority of the film, for about two thirds of the movie, and her transition happens quite late, so I also had to consider that coming to the decision.â€
Hooper said he had used transgender actors in the film, including Britainâ€™s Rebecca Root as a nurse, but said that in general transgender actors and actresses were not used enough in the film industry.
â€œI feel that within the industry at the moment there is a problem. There is a huge pool of talent in trans actors and the access to parts is limited and so I would champion any shift where the industry can move forward to embrace trans actors.â€
Redmayne said a couple in Los Angeles, in which the wife stayed with her husband while he made the transition to becoming a woman, as well as Elbeâ€™s diaries and the book based on Elbeâ€™s life, had helped to form his portrayal.
â€œSo it was â€¦ trying to take all of that information and see if I could find some of those aspects in me,â€ said Redmayne, who won the Oscar for best actor this year for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in â€œThe Theory of Everythingâ€.
â€œI donâ€™t know if I succeeded but what I learned in that process was quite incredible.â€
The film also stars Alicia Vikander (â€œEx-Machinaâ€) as Wegenerâ€™s wife Gerda. It is one of 21 films in competition for the Lion dâ€™Or top prize.
(Editing by David Clarke)
- Arts Entertainment
- Eddie Redmayne
- Lili Elbe
- Tom Hooper
- transgender people