“The Danish Girl” made its debut this past weekend at the Venice Film Festival to mostly warm reviews from film critics, but it’s largely yet to meet its most important critics: The trans community.
During the film’s press conference, the first of what will surely be many questions regarding the film’s relationship to the trans community and the decision to cast Eddie Redmayne — a cisgender male — in a trans role, were posited at both director Tom Hooper and Redmayne himself.
“I met many people from the trans community, both men and women,” Redmayne said at the conference. “I tried to meet people of different generations because the story is set at a time [between 1926 and 1931] when there was no precedent.”
Redmayne said the generosity of the trans people he came across was “amazing.”
“There was one particular couple in Los Angeles,” he recalled, “a woman called Cadence and her partner Trista; they had been together when she was living as a man, and they are still together. They allowed me to ask anything. There were two things Cadence said: one was that she would do anything and everything to live a life authentic, and the other thing was in relation to her partner. While she was transitioning, the question for her was: ‘How deep was her partner’s pool of empathy?’ Those two things sat with me all the way through the whole filmmaking process.”
As for the casting of Redmayne in itself? Hooper offered a somewhat irksome answer.
“In terms of the casting of Eddie, 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,” he said.
Though he did continue on to address the concern of trans actors getting roles in film — saying that there’s a problem in the industry in that regard (and sort of sidestepping the question with regard to “The Danish Girl” itself).
“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,” he 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.”
We definitely agree with him, don’t get us wrong. But why not give a trans actor a role — as a cisgender character, perhaps — in “The Danish Girl”?