What 'The Danish Girl' actor Eddie Redmayne learned from playing a transgender role

Redmayne portrays Lili Elbe in the new movie 'Danish.' 'The first time I walked on set [as Lili] I felt scrutinized,' the actor said. 'It was interesting because it was something that a lot of the [transgender] women I'd met had spoken about.'

Joel Ryan/Invision/AP
'The Danish Girl' stars Eddie Redmayne.

Eddie Redmayne said he finds the lack of progress on transgender rights in the past century "shocking" after playing 1920s transgender pioneer Lili Elbe in his new film "The Danish Girl."

"Some of the things that... Lili specifically has to go through of violence, discrimination, almost 100 years on from that story, those things haven't necessarily changed," Redmayne told Reuters.

"There is a huge amount of job discrimination and discrimination generally against trans people and a huge amount of violence particularly for trans women of color.

"And so it's kind of shocking that there hasn't been as much progress in that amount of time," he said in an interview about the film, which tells the story of one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery, born as Einar Wegener in 1882.

Wegener, an artist, began living as a woman after his marriage and had the first of several gender-reassignment operations in 1930. She died in 1931 but left diaries and her life was fictionalized in the book "The Danish Girl."

Redmayne explained that he had met several transgender people to help him prepare for the role, but it made playing the part no less daunting once the cameras started rolling.

"The first time I walked on set (as Lili) I felt scrutinized, I felt the gaze of other people and I felt nervous... It was interesting because it was something that a lot of the (trans) women I'd met had spoken about...

"What I learned from this experience is that gender is fluid in the way that sexuality is fluid and we have bits of everything in us," Redmayne said.

Redmayne said he is taking winning the Oscar earlier this year for best actor for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything" in stride.

"I have been working quite intensively so it's been a frenzied, wonderful time and I haven't really had respite to get perspective on it," he said.

"I am just sort of putting one foot in front of the other and knowing that I am incredibly lucky and that it'll all come to a crushing end soon," he laughed. "So I am trying to just keep my head afloat, really."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to What 'The Danish Girl' actor Eddie Redmayne learned from playing a transgender role
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2015/1129/What-The-Danish-Girl-actor-Eddie-Redmayne-learned-from-playing-a-transgender-role
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe