Eddie Redmayne Says he Wouldn't Take Trans Role in 'Danish Girl' Today

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday November 22, 2021

Eddie Redmayne in 'The Danish Girl'
Eddie Redmayne in 'The Danish Girl'  (Source:Agatha A. Nitecka/Focus Features)

Even as he revisits the role of the Emcee in a revival of "Cabaret," Eddie Redmayne reflected on having played a trans character in 2015, calling it "a mistake," Entertainment Weekly reports.

"Redmayne, a straight cisgender actor, won critical acclaim for his performance as Lili Elbe, a Danish painter and one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery," the EW article writes. "But his casting also prompted criticism at the time and after the fact."

Speaking with U.K. newspaper the Sunday Times, Redmayne said, "I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake."

The British actor, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything," acknowledged that his star power helped bring the story to the screen.

However, he said, "The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many people don't have a chair at the table," Variety detailed.

"There must be a leveling," Redmayne opined. "Otherwise, we are going to carry on having these debates."

Indeed, Redmayne's reprisal of the Emcee in a London revival of "Cabaret" — a role he first played as a teenager — has already raised some eyebrows, as EDGE reported previously. The role has long been considered, and played, as queer, Vogue reported last month.

As Tom Scutt, designer for the London revival, noted to Vogue, "The history of that role is one of queer portrayal."

"This began with Joel Grey's white-faced take," Vogue recalled, going on to add that "it has been emphasized by other interpretations, including Alan Cumming's mesmeric and menacing incarnation. (Grey and Cumming are both gay, while Redmayne is not.)"

The casting of straight and cisgender actors in LGBTQ+ roles has been increasingly controversial in recent years. Some actors hold the view that their profession, by definition, requires them to portray identities that do not actually belong to them, while others point to the ranks of talented non-heterosexual and transgender actors, arguing that they should have the chance to bring real-world authenticity to such roles.

Redmayne addressed his casting in the role, telling Vogue, "I hope when people see the performance, the interpretation will justify the casting."

It was a thought the "Fantastic Beasts" actor repeated in his comments to the Sunday Times.

"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."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.