Film and TV

Eddie Redmayne says playing trans character in The Danish Girl was a ‘mistake’

Josh Milton November 21, 2021
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Eddie Redmayne looks to the side on the red carpet

Eddie Redmayne. (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Eddie Redmayne has said he will never play the role of a trans person again, saying his part in The Danish Girl was a “mistake”

In an interview with The Sunday Times, a British newspaper, the 39-year-old actor explained how he has come to regret playing Lili Elbe in the 2015 film.

His performance saw him nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars but drew widespread criticism from LGBT+ folk.

To many, the role of Elbe, a pioneering trans woman among the earliest recipients of gender-affirming surgery, should have been played by a trans person.

Looking back some six years later, and Redmayne now sees him taking the part as a “mistake”.

Eddie Redmayne says trans people need a ‘chair at the table’

“No, I wouldn’t take it on now,” the Fantastic Beasts star told the paper. “I made that film with the best intentions but I think it was a mistake.

“The bigger discussions about the frustrations around casting is because many people don’t have a chair at the table.

“There must be a levelling, otherwise, we are going to carry on having these debates.”

There was a sense of déjà-vu then when Redmayne was cast last month to play a traditionally queer-coded role in an upcoming West End production of Cabaret.

He will play Emcee in the London revival of the 1972 Bob Fosse musical. While the musical has never put a label on Emcee, the character is queer-coded, often appearing in drag and has been played in the past by queer talent.

Eddie Redmayne attends the British premiere of The Danish Girl in 2015. (Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

“I hope when people see the performance, the interpretation will justify the casting,” Redmayne told British Vogue.

Redmayne previously defended his role in The Danish Girl, suggesting that trans or cis actors should be free to play any character as long as they did it with “a sense of integrity and responsibility”.

Yet, as trans writer Jen Richards said in the Netflix documentary Disclosure, cis men playing trans women distorts what it means to be trans.

“Having cis men play trans women, in my mind, is a direct link to the violence against trans women,” she said.

“And in my mind, part of the reason that men end up killing, out of fear that other men will think that they’re gay for having been with trans women, is that the friends – the men whose judgement they fear of – only know trans women from media, and the people playing trans women are the men that they know.

“This doesn’t happen when a trans woman plays a trans woman.”

Related topics: Eddie Redmayne

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