Actor Eddie Redmayne has said playing a transgender character in 2015 film The Danish Girl was “a mistake”. The British star was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Lile Elbe, one of the first people in the world to have gender reassignment surgery.
The film was praised by some at the time but others felt a trans actor should have been cast in the role. “No, I wouldn’t take it on now. I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake,” he said.
“The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many people don’t have a chair at the table,” Redmayne told The Sunday Times. “There must be a levelling, otherwise we are going to carry on having these debates.”
The Danish Girl was released months after Redmayne won the Oscar for best actor for playing Professor Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.
At the time, the star admitted there had been “years of cisgender success on the back of trans stories” and said he hoped more trans actors could play trans parts in the future. But he added that any actor “should be able to play any sort of part if one plays it with a sense of integrity and responsibility”.
The following year, after being criticised for appearing to suggest that The Danish Girl had helped bring trans issues to mainstream attention, he said it was “an honour to be part of this conversation in some small way” and that he was “an ally of the trans community”.
In response to his latest comments, a spokesperson for trans charity Gendered Intelligence said trans representation on screen had “come on leaps and bounds” since The Danish Girl was released and “a consensus is being reached that trans actors for trans roles should be de rigueur”.
They said: “Not only does this help abate the possibility of telling our stories in unnecessarily denigrating ways, but the authenticity of trans actors playing trans parts means stories are being told in a more meaningful way for actors and viewers alike.
“We’re increasingly hopeful that stories about and for trans people can be told by those actors themselves, with more diverse talent both on screen and behind the camera.”
Redmayne, who starred in Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, also backed members of the trans community after author JK Rowling posted tweets taking issue with the phrase “people who menstruate”.
“I disagree with Jo’s comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid,” the actor said in a statement. He also later criticized the “vitriol” she faced and acknowledged the abuse aimed towards trans people online was “equally disgusting”.
Redmayne is currently starring alongside Jessie Buckley in a new production of Cabaret at London’s Playhouse Theatre.
The actor’s casting as The Emcee, a role that has often been played by LGBTQ+ actors since it first premiered on Broadway in 1966, has also attracted criticism.
“Of all the characters I’ve ever read, this one defies pigeonholing. I would ask people to come and see it before casting judgment,” Redmayne told The Sunday Times.