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Well would you look at what project just won't die: The Danish Girl has come roaring back to life after laying dormant for years, and now it has a pretty starry combo involved in a couple of vets of Les Miserables. Can you hear the people sing for sex changes?
Deadline reports that Working Title has gotten The Danish Girl up and running, and the new combination of choice is director Tom Hooper and star Eddie Redmayne. Set in the 1930's, the true story recounts the struggle of Einar Wegner, who sought to become the world's first male-to-female transgender patient to honor the wishes of his wife, Gerda. The script was written by Lucinda Coxon, who has also written Guillermo Del Toro's upcoming Crimson Peak.
Just about everyone's been attached to this film. Some of the actresses who have considered the project include Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Gwenyth Paltrow, Charlize Theron and Rachel Weisz. This was also meant to be the English-language debut for director Tomas Alfredson, who went on to helm Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. His replacement, Lasse Hallstrom (Dear John) had also eventually departed the project.
You'll notice the names mentioned in the potential casts for The Danish Girl: Eddie Redmayne is the first male associated with the role. Originally, the production seemed set on casting a female actress and having her transition into a woman, playing a feminine male for the early portion of the film. Casting Redmayne poses its own challenges: now, the audience will be asked to believe that Redmayne could be feminine, that he could successfully transition from male to female. Redmayne certainly has very soft, feminine features, but that presents new and unusual commercial challenges, for reasons that should be obvious to the general public.
It's a bold choice for Tom Hooper, who is coming off a strong run of success. Obviously The King's Speech was a monster, winning him Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars, grossing a spectacular $414 million worldwide. Oscar gold didn't follow Les Miserables, but the musical adaptation pulled in a whopping $441 million globally. When your last two films gross $855 million on a combined budget of $76 million, you get to do whatever you want. In this case, make a drama about the first ever sex change, something that isn't exactly going to play in the same Malls of America that greeted Wolverine and Russell Crowe singing their hearts out.
It's also a massive gamble on Eddie Redmayne's appeal in a lead role. The actor certainly made an impression in Les Miserables, but audiences aren't exactly banging down the door to see him take center stage. He's got a busy lineup of films coming up, including a role in this summer's Jupiter Ascending and a potential Oscar nomination in The Theory of Everything, a biopic of Stephen Hawking. He may have had the voice of an angel in Hooper's film, but will that translate to leading man stardom for The Danish Girl?