In this Film Club I take on two very different films, Oscar-nominated “The Danish Girl”, a deep and complex surrounded by an important debate, and “Romantics Anonymous” a light and cheery French romcom.
The Danish Girl
This film definitely caused some controversy as Eddie was yet another cis-gendered actor cast to play a transwoman, closely following Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club” a few years prior. I am going to try and give my views on this issue, but I want to clarify that I want to be respectful and will happily take critique on my thinking as this is not my battle but one I stand by completely.
A major argument raised over this type of cis-gendered casting is that there are so few roles for transgendered people, they should be considered for these roles. I really agree with this and completely understand the thinking behind it. We need to make more room for non-cis people in acting, as in other parts of life. I know there are talented transgendered actors out there who could portray the experiences this character undergoes in their sleep. They have lived through this and can connect with the character on so many more levels than a cis-gendered actor could.
The issue I have with the argument that a transgendered actor should always play the part of a transgendered charater is that part of acting is the ability to be someone you are not, taking on another’s experience. A more accurately cast actor (such as the brilliant Laverne Cox as Sophia in OITNB) allows for a more personal connection to a role, but a strong actor can take on the role of any character and portray is as emotionally and personally as someone with stronger ties to the character. Now, cis-men are not exactly in need of roles, and we need to open Hollywood up to more variety of actors and roles. This said, I am so happy this debate can take place today. I am not sure whether this was an issue raised when Hillary Swank starred as a transman in “Boys Don’t Cry” but it shows how our society is becoming more self-critical, and hopefully it will help allow more transgendered people into the acting world, and not just to play trans-related characters.
Even though I know that out there is someone who could play this role and in many ways deserves this role more, I just cannot picture anyone but Eddie in the role of Einer/Lili. Having seen what he did with this part, how sensitively and beautifully he portrays this complex character’s inner world, it is impossible to think of anyone else. From interviews with Eddie he really appears to respect that he got to play this role.