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Eddie Redmayne On Becoming ‘The Danish Girl’: ‘My greatest ignorance when I started was that gender and sexuality were related.’

Eddie Redmayne On Becoming 'The Danish Girl': 'My greatest ignorance when I started was that gender and sexuality were related.'

We’re just a few weeks away from the world premiere of Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Girl” at the Venice Film Festival, and in anticipation OUT Magazine has put the film’s star Eddie Redmayne on its cover with an enlightening interview to go along with it.

Redmayne is aiming for back-to-back Oscars in the film, with Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Mattias Schoenaerts and Ben Whishaw rounding out the cast. Based on the novel by David Ebershoff, it’s a fictionalized account of the life of Lili Elbe (Redmayne), one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery.  Set in early 1920s Copenhagen, the genesis of Elbe’s transition comes when illustrator and artist Gerda Wegener (Vikander) asked Elbe — her husband, then male-identified and known as Einar Wegener — to stand in for a female model. The popularity of the portraits led to Gerda painting her husband in further pictures as a woman. Einer develops an attraction for a female physical appearance and begins living as woman, and Gerda supports her decision — although their marriage becomes strained when Gerda comes to the realization that Lili is no longer the person she married.

“I’m being given this extraordinary experience of being able to play this woman [Lili Elbe], but with that comes this responsibility of not only educating myself but hopefully using that to educate an audience,” Redmayne told OUT — an important message for him to get out given the pressure the film will have on it due to it being directed and starring two cisgender males. 

Here’s a few other highlights from the interview, which continues to paint Redmayne with charming intelligence and humility:

On the first time he read the script for The Danish Girl:

“I found it profoundly moving. I knew nothing about it going in. It felt like it was a piece about authenticity and love and the courage it takes to be yourself.”

On his feelings on his own masculinity:

“I suppose it depends on what you think of as masculine and feminine. I was musical, and I was into theater and arts, but I was also into sports, so I had quite a broad spectrum. I can also totally see that other people see a femininity in me.”

On receiving advice from the trans community on upcoming role:

“People were so kind and generous with their experience, but also so open. Virtually all of the trans men and women I met would say ‘Ask me anything.’ They know that need for cisgender people to be educated.  I felt like, I’m being given this extraordinary experience of being able to play this women, but with that comes this responsibility of not only educating myself but hopefully using that to educate [an audience]. Gosh, it’s delicate. And complicated.

On the advice and direction given specifically by Lana Wachowski:

“But I did start talking to Lana about Lili and she told me how important the book, Man into Woman, was to her. And also the art, specifically of Gerda. She very kindly continued my education, pointed me to literature, and where I should be headed.”

On Caitlyn Jenner and current conversation surrounding the trans community:

“I absolutely salute her courage. Hers is a very specific story, and it’s one that shouldn’t stand for everybody’s. But it is amazing what she’s gone through and how she’s done it. It’s a civil rights movement.”

What the role of Lili Elbe has taught him about gender:

“That it’s fluid, I suppose. And also that it needn’t be labeled. My greatest ignorance when I started was that gender and sexuality were related. And that’s one of the key things I want to hammer home to the world: You can be gay or straight, trans man or woman, and those two things are not necessarily aligned.”

Read the full interview here.

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