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Eddie Redmayne says playing trans woman in 'The Danish Girl' was a 'mistake'

Eddie Redmayne received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Lili Elbe
Eddie Redmayne received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Lili Elbe Copyright Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP
Copyright Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP
By Shannon McDonagh with Reuters
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The British actor received an Academy Award nomination in 2016 for his portrayal of Lili Elbe, one of the first people to ever undertake gender reassignment surgery.


Eddie Redmayne believes he made "a mistake" playing a transgender character in 2015's The Danish Girl.

In the biopic, the 39-year-old actor played Danish painter Lili Elbe, a transgender woman and one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

His casting fueled the debate around cisgender actors taking on roles that could be played by transgender actors.

Despite receiving an Oscar nomination for the role, the Fantastic Beasts star expressed regret about accepting the role in an interview with The Sunday Times, stating that he "wouldn't take it on now" after receiving criticism for the decision.

"I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake," he explained, referencing his preparation for the part, which involved meeting with transgender women of different ages to gain insight.

Many trans actors don't have a 'chair at the table'

Philip Davali/AP
Redmayne promoting the film in 2015 with director Tom Hooper and costar Alicia VikanderPhilip Davali/AP

"The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many people don't have a chair at the table," The Theory of Everything star continued. "There must be a levelling, otherwise we are going to carry on having these debates."

Statistics relating to these debates are tracked annually by US non-governmental media monitoring organisation GLAAD's annual reports on film and television.

Their Studio Responsibility Index testifies that that while the past decade has seen considerable progress to the representation of LGB actors and characters, there is still a long way to go when it comes to adequately offering opportunities to transgender people in visual media.

This year's report found that no transgender characters appeared in any major studio** films** in 2020.

Previously, Redmayne's co-star in the film, Alicia Vikander - who won an Academy Award for her role as Elbe's wife - said that while she believed that he did an incredible job in the film, she understands the criticism.

"I totally understand the criticism that has been out there, because we need to make change," she told Insider in August. "We need to make sure that trans men and women actually get a foot in and get work."

During his interview with The Sunday Times, the Oscar-winning actor also defended his casting as The Emcee in a London production of Cabaret, a role which has often been played by LGBTQ+ actors.

He said, "Of all the characters I've ever read, this one defies pigeonholing. I would ask people to come and see it before casting judgment."

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