In the nearly six years since Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Girl” opened in theaters, the film has become just one example of Hollywood’s history of straight-washing queer roles. Cis actor Eddie Redmayne stars in the film as painter Lili Elbe, a transgender woman who was one of the early recipients of sex reassignment surgery. Redmayne’s performance earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Despite the awards attention, Redmayne’s casting drew criticism as the film did not cast a trans actor in the eponymous trans role.
“When we were making the film, it was such a learning experience,” Redmayne’s co-star Alicia Vikander told Insider in an interview this month while promoting her role in David Lowery’s recently released “The Green Knight.” “I think Eddie did a wonderful job in the role,” she said.
“I totally understand the criticism that has been out there, because we need to make change and we need to make sure that trans men and women actually get a foot in and get work,” continued Vikander, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film as Elbe’s partner, Gerda Wegener. “My only concern is that we may need to get to a point in the end where we have trans women and men playing cis characters. Because that is the main thing, you know?”
Redmayne himself addressed the controversy before the film’s release in an interview with IndieWire, saying “it’s an incredibly important discussion. And I think it’s also representative of a lot of discrimination against trans people in the work place generally. I think there has been years of cisgender success on the back of trans stories… Many trans people worked on the film… one trans actress Rebecca Root plays a cisgender nurse in the film.”
Redmayne added, “For me, I hope there’s a day when there are more trans actors and trans actresses playing trans parts, but also cisgender parts. And I hope — as an actor one hopes — that one should be able to play any sort of part if one plays it with a sense of integrity and responsibility.”