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The Danish Girl director Tom Hooper: Trans actors need more access in Hollywood

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Elisabetta A. Villa/WireImage

The Danish Girl director Tom Hooper says he’d champion a shift leading to more access for trans actors in Hollywood. The filmmaker, accompanied by his cast, spoke about this issue during the Venice Film Festival, where the film had its world premiere.

During a press conference following the screening, Hooper was asked by a journalist why he didn’t cast a trans actor in the lead role of Lili Elbe, played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne.

“Access to trans actors, women and men, to roles, both trans roles and cisgender roles, is utterly key, and I feel that within the industry at the moment there is a problem,” Hooper replied, according to Variety. “There is a huge pool of talented trans actors and the access to parts is limited. I would champion any shift where the industry could move forward and embrace trans actors in trans and cisgender roles and also celebrate and encourage trans filmmakers.

“In terms of the casting of Eddie,” he added, “I’m going to say something that would be easier to say if Eddie weren’t sitting next to me, but I think there is something in Eddie that’s drawn to the feminine.”

The Danish Girl tells the story of Elbe, who was assigned male at birth in 1882 and transitioned to female in the 1920s with the support of her wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander), becoming one of the first people to undergo gender confirmation surgery.

“I fell in love with the fact that it’s just a love story between two people,” Hooper said. “Above all it’s a story about how to love yourself. Gerda was extremely ahead of her time.”

Redmayne, who won Best Actor at this year’s Academy Awards for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, told Out magazine of his process researching Elbe and speaking with members of the trans community. “My greatest ignorance when I started was that gender and sexuality were related,” he said. “And that’s one of the key things I want to hammer home to the world: You can be gay or straight, trans man or woman, and those two things are not necessarily aligned.”

The Danish Girl will hit theaters on Nov. 27.

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