Six years after he was nominated for an Academy award for playing a trans woman, Eddie Redmayne says he wouldn't take the role if offered it today.
In 2015, Eddie Redmayne starred as historic transgender artist Lili Elbe in the biopic The Danish Girl, a role that both earned him praise, and ignited debate across Hollywood over whether cis men should play trans women. Now, years later, Redmayne is taking another look at the role, and the issue.
When Redmayne was asked by The Times of London about playing Elbe, he admitted that he was wrong when he took the role. "No, I wouldn't take it on now. I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake," he said. "The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many people don't have a chair at the table. There must be a leveling, otherwise we are going to carry on having these debates."
When Redmayne was nominated for an Oscar for playing pioneering trans painter Lili Elbe in the film, the conversation around whether or not cis actors should play trans roles reached a boiling point. It was only two years after Jared Leto had won an Oscar for playing Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, and shows like Orange is The New Black and Transparent were showing that there was no lack of talented trans performers.
This was also around the time that the murders of trans women and other trans people started to be covered by more mainstream media sites. With a growing awareness around transmisogyny and violence against trans women, attitudes about media depictions shifted.
Now, it's pretty well understood in Hollywood that trans actors should play trans roles, but there is still work to be done. When men play trans women it reinforces the idea that trans women are just men playing dress up as explained succinctly in Disclosure. Not only that, but by casting cis actors, generations of trans actors never got their chance.
Thankfully, things are starting to get better for trans actors in Hollywood. More and more movies and shows are including trans characters and are casting them with trans actors. As the tides change, a "leveling" as Redmayne calls it, could be on the horizon.
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