Eddie Redmayne has earned praise – and a SAG Award nomination – for his work in The Danish Girl, in which he plays 1900s transgender pioneer Lili Elbe – but the drama is not the first time Redmayne has played a woman.
The actor recalled during PEOPLE’s Screen Actors Guild Awards preshow that he played Violet in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night opposite fellow SAG nominee Mark Rylance.
Redmayne, 34, also said performing in The Danish Girl was a huge learning experience for him thanks to his research for the role with members of the trans community.
“It’s just been the most gigantic education for me,” he said.
The actor added that although Elbe’s story happened nearly 100 years ago, the transgender community today still deals with “some of the issues” she did – from discrimination to hate crimes – and that he hopes the film can help raise awareness.
The 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are being presented live from Los Angeles on TNT and TBS.