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The Danish Girl
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girlvia hitfix.com

The Danish Girl director on trans issues in Hollywood

Tom Hooper says that ‘access to parts is limited’ for trans actors working in the industry

When the casting was revealed for The Danish Girl, a story focussing on the story of pioneering trans woman Lili Elbe, the trans community at large was not happy. In the leading role is cis-male Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne. The question was raised: why hasn’t an actual trans woman been picked to tell the story?

Now the director of The Danish Girl has spoken out about the lack of opportunity for trans actors. At the film’s world premiere, Tom Hooper was asked why he did not pick a transgender actor for the lead role, to which he replied: “Access to trans actors, women and men, to roles, both trans roles and cisgender roles, is utterly key, and I feel that within the industry at the moment there is a problem. There is a huge pool of talented trans actors and the access to parts is limited.”

He added: “I would champion any shift where the industry could move forward and embrace trans actors in trans and cisgender roles and also celebrate and encourage trans filmmakers.” 

Hooper also said that the production had reached out to the trans acting communities in the cities where they shot – London, Brussels and Copenhagen – and ended up casting “40 or 50 trans supporting artists”. He said: “I’m pleased we achieved what we did, but I’m sure there’s more to do.”

It’s a Catch-22. Of course when it comes to campaigns, they want a big name like Redmayne’s to sell tickets. But if lesser known trans actors and actresses aren’t given an opportunity, the pool of viable Hollywood options will remain small. Surely the only solution is to take more risks?