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If there’s one thing Eddie Redmayne knows how to do, it’s completely lose himself in roles. He first broke through by playing Marius in Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, he became an intergalactic royal in the Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending, and his latest transformation into the ALS-afflicted Stephen Hawking won him his first Oscar. But his role in The Danish Girl will surely earn him even more attention from the Academy next year. 

Eddie Redmayne The Danish Girl

The first look at The Danish Girl has hit the web (via Yahoo Movies), which features Redmayne in a reunion with Hooper as Lili Elbe. This Danish artist was a pioneer of the transgender community, as she was one of the first known people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Elbe was born Einar Wegener, and was publicly announced as Einar’s sister. She stopped painting after making the transition, which was the result of a series of experimental surgeries that she first began in 1930. The film is based on the fictionalized novel of the same name by David Ebershoff, and follows Einar’s transition into Lili. Her former wife, Greta, played by Alicia Vikander, became famous for the paintings she created of Einar in women’s clothes, and she stood by him through the transition process. 

Redmayne briefly discussed the role with The Wrap on the Oscars red carpet this past Sunday. He said,

I haven’t worked since The Theory of Everything, so it’s been really good to get the muscles exercised again.

The Danish Girl has been trying to get off the ground for years. Tomas Alfredson of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Lasse Hallström of The Hundred-Foot Journey were both attached to the project at one point. In addition, numerous actresses were reportedly courted for the role of Lili over the years, including Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard and Charlize Theron. Focus Features is expected to release the film later this year, with Amber Heard (Magic Mike 2) and Matthias Schoenaerts (The Drop) also on board the cast. 

Though it’s been a long trudge through the mud of Hollywood to get this made, The Danish Girl will likely prove to be an important film. It may have been considered too risque a few years ago when it was first trying to pick up financiers, but now the transgender conversation has never been more prevalent.

In entertainment, however, it’s been mostly happening on TV. Orange Is the New Black has tackled the subject with actress Laverne Cox, a member and spokesperson for the transgender community. Recently, Jeffrey Tambor won a Golden Globe for his performance in Transparent as a father of three transitioning into womanhood, while the series as a whole won the Globe for Best Television Series in the Comedy or Musical category. It’s thanks to the pioneering shows and pop culture figures like these that The Danish Girl has a world in which to flourish. It’s commendable that Redmayne, who recently married his longtime girlfriend Hannah Bagshawe, is embracing a role of this magnitude. Come Oscar season next year, this decision could pay off nicely with another Best Actor Oscar nomination. 

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