Eddie Redmayne may be adept at reinvention for movie roles — as anyone who’s seen The Theory of Everything can attest — but when it came to preparing to play the first person to undergo gender-confirmation surgery in The Danish Girl, research about the trans community proved a huge help.
“What was important for me was meeting men and women from the trans community and hearing about their lives and what they’ve gone though,” says Redmayne in the featurette below. “Every single trans person I’ve met has talked about how from their youth, their assigned gender was different to their own in their own identity.”
Redmayne — who has nabbed Golden Globe and SAG nominations for his role as artist Lili Elbe — also relied heavily on costume to help him tap into the emotional arc needed to play up his character’s transition.
“He has these incredibly high starched collars and these very, very formal suits,” says Redmayne, of the costumes Lili wears before developing her feminine identity. “All of this for me, was a sense of Lily putting up this exoskeleton.”
Helmed by The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper and based on the 2000 novel of the same name by David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl pairs the Oscar winner with Alicia Vikander, whose performance as understanding spouse Gerda Wegener has earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. The Ex Machina actress has quickly become one of the most in-demand actresses in Hollywood, and with good reason, says Hooper.
“Finding an actress who could match Eddie beat for beat wasn’t easy,” he says in a featurette about the Swedish-born actress. ‘I was so fortunate Alicia Vikander existed, because it’s a pretty short list of actors that could meet that challenge.”
Those accolades make the 27-year-old “proud” to play her part in portraying Lily’s journey, adding “I just wanted to embrace the character and tell the story with delicacy and sensitivity.”
Watch the full featurette below to hear Redmayne talk about his co-star and to see scenes where Gerda lovingly counsels Lili as she contemplates his transition.
The Danish Girl is now playing in limited release and expands nationwide on Dec. 25.