I don’t mean to sound like a bad Hallmark card, but sometimes things happen at a certain time for a reason. The Danish Girl, a biopic of the incredible story of Lili Elbe, the Danish artist who became one of the first people in the world to undergo gender reassignment surgery, has been bouncing around Hollywood for more than ten years ever since David Ebershoff’s novel of the same name was first published in 2000. A long list of filmmakers have been attached to the production – with an even longer list of actors and actresses – with the plan always being to have one actor play Lili before the surgery, when she was still known as the man Einar Wegenar, and then having another actress play her after the surgery.
But those plans always seemed to get bogged down by one problem or another. That was until Oscar winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) came on board, and brought with him the plan to just use one brilliant actor to play both parts of the story. That actor would be Eddie Redmayne, who had just come off a fully-deserved Oscar win for transforming himself so comprehensibly into Prof. Stephen Hawking. Hooper spoke to Screen Daily about why he bucked the original plan, and instead tapped Redmayne to play both parts.
“I was a great believer in him as an actor. I think also there’s a certain gender fluidity that I sensed in him, that I found intriguing and it led me to think he might be a really interesting person to cast in this role. I felt that there was something in him that was drawn to the feminine. That was something that I felt he might be interested to explore further.”
And as chance would have it, with the production finally gaining momentum, The Danish Girl would finally get made and released in 2015, the year in which transgender issues has been placed at the forefront of public consciousness arguably like never before. Thanks to the highly publicized tale of Caitlyn Jenner’s sexual transition, and high-profile shows like Orange Is the New Black and Sense8 going a long way to inform and educate about transgenderism, The Danish Girl could not have been released at a better time.
It probably also helps that it looks damn good! Hooper and Redmayne appear to be on top “Oh just give them the golden statues already!” form, and if that’s not enough they also have current Hollywood “It” girl Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) seemingly putting in another fine performance. This is definitely going to be one to watch come awards season, but for now you’ll have to settle for just watching the first trailer below.
The Danish Girl also stars Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Wishaw and Amber Heard. It is scheduled for release internationally on 27 November, while locally we’ll have to wait until 29 January 2016 to watch it.
Last Updated: September 3, 2015