Les Miserables Actor Eddie Redmayne to Star as Queer Artist Lili Elbe

By Patrick Yacco

Originally published on Advocate.com April 29 2014 1:51 PM ET

British actor Eddie Redmayne has been cast as Lili Elbe, an intersex person and one of the first known to undergo gender-confirming surgery, in a film adaptation of David Ebershoff's novel The Danish Girl, reports Deadline.

The movie will be directed by Tom Hooper, who worked with Redmayne on the recent big-screen musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.

The Danish Girl is a fictionalized account of Lili Elbe’s life, including Elbe’s relationship with fellow illustrator Gerda Gottlieb. The couple lived in Denmark in the early 1900s and eventually moved to Paris, where Elbe received wide acclaim for her work. Before Elbe's surgical transition, the two married, though that union was annulled by the King of Denmark following Elbe’s legal name change and receipt of documentation confirming her gender as female.

Hollywood has a long history of enlisting cisgender (nontrans) men, like Redmayne, to portray trans-feminine characters in film — although criticism of this tactic has been building over recent years, calling out the dearth of roles for transgender actors. Last year, the creative team behind Dallas Buyers Club received criticism for casting Jared Leto in the supporting role of Rayon, a transgender woman and drug addict.

Contributor: 
Patrick Yacco