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Eddie Redmayne Calls Trans Woman Role in The Danish Girl a 'Mistake'

Eddie Redmayne Calls Trans Woman Role in The Danish Girl a 'Mistake'

Actor Eddie Redmayne at a film screening
Via Shutterstock

The actor played Lili Elbe in the 2015 film. Elbe was one of the first trans women to receive gender-affirmation surgery.


Academy Award-winning British actor Eddie Redmayne said he regrets playing a trans woman in the 2015 film The Danish Girl. He called the decision a "mistake."

Speaking to the U.K.'s Sunday Times, Redmayne said, "No, I wouldn't take [the role] on now."

He added, "I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake."

In the film, Redmayne played Lili Elbe, one of the first trans women to receive gender- affirmation surgery.

Redmayne earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his portrayal of Elbe. However, he was condemned by LGBTQ+ advocates who believed that a trans person should have played her, not a cisgender man. He had won the Oscar the previous year for portraying physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

The actor's star power helped bring The Danish Girl to development, but he told the Times there are other, better ways to showcase diverse stories in cinema.

"The bigger discussions about the frustrations around casting is because many people don't have a chair at the table," Redmayne said. "There must be a leveling, otherwise, we are going to carry on having these debates."

His comments echo his Danish Girl costar's. Alicia Vikander told Insider, "I totally understand the criticism that has been out there, because we need to make change and we need to make sure that trans men and women actually get a foot in and get work."

The comments come as Redmayne plays the Emcee in a new London production of Cabaret. Redmayne played the character during high school, according to BuzzFeed. The role has notably gone to several queer actors in the past, such as Joel Grey and Alan Cumming -- though Grey wasn't out when he played the part in the 1972 film.

"Of all the characters I've ever read, this one defies pigeonholing," Redmayne said. "I would ask people to come and see it before casting judgment."

In 2015, Redmayne defended his choice to portray Elbe. "I hope -- as an actor one hopes -- that one should be able to play any sort of part if one plays it with a sense of integrity and responsibility."

The film industry has changed significantly when it comes to casting trans and queer characters. The Wrap notes that Jared Leto received backlash for playing a trans person with HIV in 2014's Dallas Buyers Club. He said, "I would probably pass" on the role now. And Scarlett Johansson initially was going to play a trans man in the film Rub and Tug before pulling out of the role and apologizing.

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