Eddie Redmayne Says Playing Transgender Woman In ‘The Danish Girl’ Was ‘A Mistake’

Eddie Redmayne received critical praise and an Oscar nomination for portraying transgender artist Lili Elbe, but admits it’s a role he now regrets.

Elbe’s life story hit the big screen in 2015’s “The Danish Girl,” directed by Tom Hooper. The artist, who specialized in landscape paintings, was one of the first recipients of gender confirmation surgery.

Though “The Danish Girl” received mostly positive reviews, it drew criticism from LGBTQ rights advocates over the decision to cast Redmayne, a cisgender actor, in the role of a transgender woman. In a new interview with The Sunday Times, Redmayne shared his feelings about “The Danish Girl” in hindsight, and said he’d pass on the project if it were offered to him today.

“No, I wouldn’t take it on now,” he explained. “I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake.”

Later, Redmayne acknowledged that “The Danish Girl” came to fruition only after a bankable star like himself signed on for the project. He then stressed that more must be done to diminish the behind-the-scenes power disparities that often prevent trans actors from being considered for such roles.

Eddie Redmayne at the 2015 premiere of "The Danish Girl."
Eddie Redmayne at the 2015 premiere of “The Danish Girl.”

David Livingston via Getty Images

“The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many people don’t have a chair at the table,” he said. “There must be a leveling. Otherwise, we are going to carry on having these debates.”

The discourse around casting straight and cisgender actors in LGBTQ roles has intensified in recent years as Hollywood slowly embraces queer representation in television and film.

Darren Criss, who rose to fame as a gay teen on “Glee” and nabbed an Emmy for his portrayal of gay serial killer Andrew Cunanan in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” recently pledged not to play queer characters anymore in an effort to make space for LGBTQ actors in the industry. Last year, Halle Berry dropped out of a film in which she would have played a transgender character after the announcement of her casting drew backlash.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped straight and cisgender actors from continuing to take on LGBTQ roles, often to mixed results.

James Corden’s portrayal of a gay, out-of-work Broadway actor in last year’s Netflix musical “The Prom” drew widespread scorn from LGBTQ fans and critics alike. Vanity Fair critic Richard Lawson called the performance “appalling and terminally bland,” adding, “No more straight actors playing gay men until the sins of ‘The Prom’ are properly atoned for.”

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