Lana Wachowski Offered Transgender Advice to Eddie Redmayne for 'The Danish Girl'
The 'Matrix' director helped the Oscar-winning actor prepare for the trans role in Tom Hooper's latest drama while he worked on her film 'Jupiter Ascending': "She pointed me to where to start reading."
A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
In the end credits of Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl, starring Eddie Redmayne as transgender pioneer and artist Lili Elbe, the director and the actor offer a list of thank-yous that includes one to Lana Wachowski.
So how exactly did the trans filmmaker assist? When Redmayne began researching the part, he was working on the sci-fi movie Jupiter Ascending, which Lana and her brother Andy Wachowski directed. And as Redmayne, the best actor Oscar winner for his performance as Stephen Hawking in last year's The Theory of Everything, explains it, Lana helped him kick-start his research for his latest role.
"She pointed me to where to start reading: Jan Morris' book Conundrum, Kate Bornstein's Gender Outlaw and Niels Hoyer's book about Lili, Man Into Woman," says Redmayne, adding, "I absolutely adore Lana. She's such a generous human being."
Wachowski rarely does interviews, but after an appearance at the Human Rights Campaign's annual San Francisco gala in 2012 when she was honored with the Visibility Award, the filmmaker talked to THR about the complications that can come with trans visibility. "For transgender people, that public and private identity is more complicated by the fact that if they are not seen, in some ways they have no identity. On the other hand, if they are seen, that in some ways can actually be life-threatening, like the case of [murdered transgender teen] Gwen Araujo. When I say it's a matter of life and death, I'm saying that some people who have problems with transgender people suddenly recognize [us] as transgender, and that can have dire consequences when you live in a culture that's so uncomfortable with gender variation."
Speaking of The Danish Girl, an expected awards contender that Focus Features will release Nov. 27, Redmayne explains that "when preparing for the film, my approach to it was to start with the history, what we could find out about Lili and [her wife] Gerde and their story. One of the interesting things about her book Man Into Woman is that Lili talks about herself in the third-person sometimes. I had a fear that in contemporary language that would somehow pathologize it and make it seem like it was a bipolarity, which, of course, it wasn't. For her, at that time, it was trying to find the words to describe [her situation]."