Eddie Redmayne reflects on playing trans woman in 'Danish Girl': 'It was a mistake'

Amy Haneline

Eddie Redmayne is reflecting on his role in "The Danish Girl," where he portrayed transgender woman Lili Elbe, one of the first recipients of gender-reassignment surgery.

The actor "wouldn't take it on now," he told The Times in an interview published Sunday. "I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake." 

The 2015 film follows the stages in Elbe's transition from artist Einar Wegener and its effect on her wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander). 

Redmayne, who is cisgender, earned a best actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal and the movie was mostly applauded, but over time has been met with criticism for not casting a trans actor in the part.

Eddie Redmayne photographed at the Palihouse Hotel in West Hollywood in 2018.

"The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many people don’t have a chair at the table," Redmayne told The Times. "There must be a leveling, otherwise we are going to carry on having these debates.”

Redmayne is set to star in a new production of "Cabaret"  as the Emcee, a character that is often played by LGBT actors, which he also addressed in The Times interview. "Of all the characters I’ve ever read, this one defies pigeonholing. I would ask people to come and see it before casting judgment," he said.

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Eddie Redmayne stars as Lili Elbe in "The Danish Girl."

Vikander has also reflected on her role in "The Danish Girl," saying she understood the backlash over Redmayne's casting.

"We need to make change and we need to make sure that trans men and women actually get a foot in and get work," Vikander told Insider in August

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Representation of the LGBTQ community has become a discussion point in Hollywood. 

Selena Gomez, who famously dated Justin Bieber and Nick Jonas, signed to play lesbian mountaineer Silvia Vasquez-Lavado. Cisgender actress Halle Berry considered taking on an undisclosed male transgender role last summer

More:Halle Berry apologizes for considering transgender character as next role, vows to be ally

In years prior, straight actors Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer sizzled onscreen as lovers in "Call Me By Your Name." Cisgender actor Jeffrey Tambor played a transgender woman in "Transparent." Straight actor Nick Robinson channeled a young gay man struggling with his identity in "Love, Simon."

But more recently, actors and industry experts have been speaking out about the need for queer and transgender actors to play roles that represent these communities.

"It would be nice if there were enough LGBT roles that anyone could play them because there wasn't any scarcity of representation," says Jane Ward, a gender and sexuality studies professor at the University of California, Riverside told USA TODAY last year. "However, that's not the case."

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Contributing: David Oliver