Starring in ‘The Danish Girl’ was quite an educational experience for Eddie Redmayne! He portrays Lili Elbe in the movie, who is believed to be the first person to undergo a sex change operation in the 1930’s. I had no idea sex change operations were being done in the 1930’s; I’m learning new things, too!
I fell into all the clichés of ignorance. I didn’t realize that gender and sexuality weren’t related.”
He admitted that he also “confused the terms transvestitism and transgender.” And Eddie is an educated guy: he was a classmate of Prince William’s at Eton and then studied at Cambridge. If he didn’t understand the difference, then he realized how many others may not understand it as well.
What’s lovely is, the second you understand the difference, you see how gigantic it is and how important it is that we educate ourselves.”
He spent three years preparing for this role, including interviewing members of the trans community and reading Elbe’s biography, ‘Man Into Woman.’ Eddie also got some advice from Lana Wachowski, who directed him in ‘Jupiter Ascending’ and publicly announced her own transition from male to female in 2012. Lana explained why she felt it was important to help educate Eddie.
I am always nervous about LGBT stories’ being portrayed as inherently tragic, that our ‘otherness’ is somehow a curse, whereas many of us experience it as one of life’s great blessings. I told Eddie that Lili and Gerda made my existence possible. Without the imagination and courage of these two women, LGBT history might have evolved from a much later starting point. And Eddie’s process is so compassionate, always striving to inhabit a character’s vulnerability. He wanted to understand Lili in this way, and I believe he did.”
Eddie said the experience also opened his eyes to the way women are treated.
Just walking onto a set filled with men, watching the difference in how you’re treated, or the scrutiny … the gaze was overwhelming. A lot of the women I worked with said, ‘Yeah … welcome to our world.’ “
He’s an amazing actor: I bet he killed this role. Can’t wait to check out ‘The Danish Girl’!
Photos by FAMEFLYNET