"I absolutely adore her," Eddie Redmayne said of transgender director Lana Wachowski

By Jodi Guglielmi
September 23, 2015 03:30 PM
Walter McBride/FilmMagic

When Eddie Redmayne signed on to portray transgender woman Lili Elbe in the upcoming film The Danish Girl, he knew he needed to do his research.

As fate would have it, as he started to delve deeper into the history and mindset of the transgender community he was also finishing up filming the sci-fi movie Jupiter Ascending – which happened to be directed by transgender filmmaker Lana Wachowski.

Naturally, Redmayne, 33, turned to her for advice.

“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,” Redmayne told The Hollywood Reporter. “I absolutely adore Lana. She’s such a generous human being.”

Although the Matrix maker rarely does interviews about her transition, in 2012 she told THR about the struggle many trans people have with discovering their own identity.

“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,” she said shortly after receiving an award from the Human Rights Campaign.

Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl
Courtesy Working Title

After reading the books suggested by Wachowski, Redmayne began to understand the complicated emotions and public perceptions that can come with transitioning – including some that mirrored what Wachoswki herself described.

“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,” said the Oscar-winning actor. “One of the interesting things about [Elbe’s] book, Man Into Woman, is that Lili talks about herself in the third-person sometimes.”

He continued: “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].”

Wachowski’s name is included in a list of thank-yous that run at the end of Tom Hooper-directed film, which is already generating early Oscar buzz.

The Danish Girl is set to hit theaters Nov. 27.

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