The Danish Girl sees Eddie Redmayne transform from Einar Wegener to Lili Elbe in the story one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. The actor, who won an Oscar for another sort of physical transformation in last year’s The Theory Of Everything, today called both roles “a dream come true.” For The Danish Girl, he consulted people of all ages from the transgender community, saying it was “the most brilliant education… Their kindness and support galvanized me.”
Reaction out of Venice, where the movie screened for the press this morning, has been somewhat mixed for the film overall. But Redmayne is getting laudatory notices that put him squarely on the awards trail. Judging by another SRO press conference this afternoon — possibly even more packed than the one for Black Mass yesterday — the international support is strong. Also here were stars Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts and Amber Heard.
The Danish Girl is a reteam for Redmayne and his Les Miserables director Tom Hooper. Hooper traces Einar/Lili’s story before and after the surgery and the relationship with compassionate wife Gerde (Vikander) and others close to them. He said today that he thinks the film is about “inclusion, but how inclusion is made possible through love.”
Asked why he didn’t cast a transgender actor to play Einar/Lili, Hooper noted that many do appear in the film as extras. There was also an outreach program in Brussels and Copenhagen. While Redmayne was his “instinctive choice,” he said, “There is a problem in the industry. The access of transgender actors to roles is utterly key. I would champion any shift where the industry would move forward.”
A woman in one particular couple that Redmayne spoke with and who had made the transition told him there were two very important issues for her. One, she would “give anything to live a life authentic” and Two, “how deep was her partner’s pool of empathy.” Those things stayed with the actor throughout the filmmaking. “The fulcrum of it was this person being brave enough to live a life authentic” while Gerde’s love is “unconditional.” Vikander added, “I was in love with the fact that this is such a love story about two people, but also how to love yourself. Gerde was ahead of time.”
Focus Features releases the Working Title picture into the awards corridor on November 27 in the U.S. and Universal begins international rollout in early 2016.