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The Danish Girl Was A Mistake To Eddie Redmayne - 'I Wouldn't Take It On Now'

Eddie Redmayne may have been a 2016 Oscar nominee for his portrayal of Lili Elbe in "The Danish Girl," but years later, he's having regrets about taking the role. When it was announced that Redmayne, a cisgender man, would be playing a trans woman, he was met with backlash. 

Critics wondered why a transgender actor wasn't cast in the leading role, which is loosely inspired by one of the first trans women in history to receive gender reassignment surgery. The "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" star understands the criticism. In fact, if offered the role today, he wouldn't accept it. 

"No, I wouldn't take it on now," he told IndieWire in 2021. "I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake ... The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many people don't have a chair at the table. There must be a leveling, otherwise we are going to carry on having these debates."

Redmayne also wishes for trans actors to be able to land transgender and cisgender parts. The actor touched on this during a 2015 interview with IndieWire, highlighting how trans actor Rebecca Root plays a cisgender nurse in "The Danish Girl." Root goes on to portray another cisgender character in 2018's "The Sisters Brothers." 

Trans audiences have mixed feelings about Eddie Redmayne's performance

Eddie Redmayne was nominated for an Oscar alongside industry heavyweights like Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, but the overall response to his portrayal of Lili Elbe was controversial and complicated. In a 2015 op-ed for IndieWire, writer Carol Grant critiqued his performance. As a trans woman, Grant felt the on-screen depiction of Elbe was surface level and didn't truly represent trans struggles. 

"[W]e're never given an insight on what else she really wants besides being a woman. What they give us instead are the stereotypical tropes of a housewife — simple retail job, gossiping with the girlfriends, desperately wants to have kids of her own — with nothing else to define her," Grant said. "Like the rest of the film, her ultimate form of femininity is a simplification, a caricature."

Meanwhile, one viewer on Reddit who is also trans expressed the opinion that Redmayne's casting set trans women back. Other trans people who saw the film, like u/EggThrowaway2807, also had issues with this portrayal.  

"It was very much a film made by a cis man for a primarily cis audience," they posted.

On the other hand, some viewers, like u/twinklesprinkle01, enjoyed the performance. This user, also a trans woman, enjoyed seeing herself represented on-screen. U/twinklespringle01 added that given the amount of scenes showing Lili dressed as a man, this may have been an uncomfortable undertaking for a trans actor. For others, like u/AberrantIris, watching the film was cathartic, especially as they experienced it around the time they came out.