‘The Danish Girl’ Faces Transgender Challenges Both In Front Of, And Behind, The Camera

While the plot of The Danish Girl centers on the romance between Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander), the film also tells the story of Lili Elbe’s struggles as a transgender pioneer. The first thought of many, upon learning the plot of The Danish Girl, might be to wonder why Director Tom Hooper didn’t cast a transgender actor in the role of Lili.

“Access to trans actors, women and men, to roles, both trans roles and cisgender roles, is utterly key, and I feel that within the industry at the moment there is a problem,” The Danish Girl‘s Hooper said. “There is a huge pool of talented trans actors and the access to parts is limited. I would champion any shift where the industry could move forward and embrace trans actors in trans and cisgender roles and also celebrate and encourage trans filmmakers.”

As far as Hooper’s choice in casting Eddie Redmayne specifically in the starring role of The Danish Girl, Tom alluded to aspects of the actor’s personality that lent him more easily to the role than other actors, according to Entertainment Weekly.

“In terms of the casting of Eddie,” The Danish Girl director added, “I’m going to say something that would be easier to say if Eddie weren’t sitting next to me, but I think there is something in Eddie that’s drawn to the feminine.”

Redmayne reported that he prepared for his role in The Danish Girl by speaking with transgender couples and trying to learn about the different aspects of the transformation from those who had gone through the process.

“From the very beginning we talked in terms of the idea that Eddie was playing a woman that was going to be revealed. So rather than it being a process of how Eddie might learn to imitate a woman it was about how he might create the impression that he was uncovering a latent femininity, a woman inside. This guided us through the process.”

According to Variety, Hooper said that times are different now and that, opposed to Lili’s time in The Danish Girl, our society is moving toward a more tolerant view of gender identity.

“I think to some extent that the villain in the piece, if there is one, is dualism. The idea that there is a duality. That if you are not a man you have to be operated on fully to become a woman. That if you are not a woman, you need to be surgically corrected to be a man. I do think we are evolving beyond the binary and thinking about gender as a spectrum. There can be very complicated places on that spectrum.”

The Danish Girl will premiere on November 27 in theaters.

[Featured image: Eddie Redmayne courtesy of Universal Pictures/The Danish Girl]