Tag Archives: eddie redmayne

Eddie Redmayne winning raves for role as transgender pioneer in ‘The Danish Girl’

In a pivotal scene early in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl, the 1920s Copenhagen painter Einar Wegener, as played by Eddie Redmayne, sits in for a portrait his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) is painting of a ballerina. Breathlessly caressing the stockings and slippers, something stirs in Einar.

It’s a moment that cues a coming transformation: Einar will gradually become a woman, finally undergoing one of the earliest known sex reassignment surgeries. Einar becomes Lili Elbe, a celebrated trans pioneer.

“I didn’t want it to be an epiphany,” says Redmayne of the scene. “It felt like she had been born, and society and herself had encased herself in this masculine exoskeleton. The important thing for me was the film should see that unraveling.”

Redmayne, the best-actor Oscar winner earlier this year for his Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, has proven to be an immaculately technical actor and an expert of metamorphosis. A year after charting Hawking’s physical degeneration, his conversion from Einar to Lili in The Danish Girl again has the 33-year-old British actor being hailed as a likely Academy Award nominee.

It’s the third film together for Hooper (The King’s Speech) and Redmayne, who had a small part in the director’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) where the queen sentences him to death. “I remember in that moment thinking: I need to find a leading role for Eddie,” Hooper says.

It was while filming 2012’s Les Miserables, in which Redmayne played the tender revolutionary Marius, that the two began plotting The Danish Girl, based on David Ebershoff’s novel of the true-life events. On the film’s Paris barracks, Hooper slipped Redmayne Lucinda Coxon’s script.

“Tom just said: Will you have a read of this?” Redmayne says.

It was the first role Redmayne was offered without an audition. When Redmayne and Hooper convened for an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, it was also their first time sitting together for an interview. At times, their combined Britishness made for extreme humility.

“The dream to get to play interesting and in both those cases extraordinary people, it does not come along,” says Redmayne of Hawking and Elbe. “And I also have no question: I don’t think it will come along again. I realize that I’ve been very lucky in a couple years to play two formidable people.”

Reviews for The Danish Girl, painterly and stately, have singled out Redmayne’s performance, which caps what the actor calls a “head-spinning” period in his life. He wed Hanna Bagshawe last December, and, two days after winning the Oscar, was back on set making The Danish Girl, still groggy from the partying.

“My instinct was Eddie from the beginning,” Hooper says. “I was truly open to any route. I know in a previous incarnation there had been talk of a woman playing the role, which is also equally valid because you’re saying Lili is a woman underneath.”

Some, though, have questioned casting a man as a transgender woman. Sean Baker’s Tangerine, released earlier this year, by contrast, has drawn raves for its transgender actresses, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor.

“There’s something in Ed that’s drawn to the feminine, maybe,” says Hooper of Redmayne, who also played Viola in a stage production of Twelfth Night. “In the movie, Lili presents as Einar for two-thirds of it and the transition is quite late, so that also fed into my thinking.”

The Danish Girl is nevertheless an outlier. Earlier this year, the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism studied the 100 top-grossing films of 2014 and found zero transgender characters.

“There is a serious problem not only in our industry but within many industries of trans men and trans women and discrimination in the workplace,” Redmayne says. “In the United States, you can be fired in 32 states for being trans.”

“When I first thought of doing the movie, it was considered a hard film to finance,” Hooper says. “I must admit there were people around me who were happy to tell me I shouldn’t do the film. And now people see it as an obvious film to have done, and I think that’s indicative of a wonderful shift that’s begun to happen in the culture where trans stories have become more acceptable.”

Redmayne did extensive research and met with many generations of transgender people to understand Lili better.

“I was incredibly ignorant at the time. It was several years of meeting people from the trans community and educating myself on Lili,” Redmayne says. “To be comfortable in your own skin is a term that’s thrown around, but it’s actually incredibly complicated.”

As played by Redmayne, Lili’s gradual revelation is a knotty mix of emotions — an increasingly confident awakening where a swelling rapture overpowers apprehension.

“The key balancing act of directing the film was balancing shame and joy, balancing this idea that the transition was both a release into anxiety and a release from anxiety,” Hooper says. “It was terribly important to me that we could always feel through Eddie’s performance of Lili the promise of the happiness that lay in committing to the journey.”

Fall movie season brings a wealth of quality LGBT feature films

Ellen Page was first approached about the true-life gay rights drama Freeheld when she was 21, just coming off her breakthrough in Juno. It was seven years before the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a right, and six before Page, herself, came out.

“It really did align with an internal process I was going through with my own identity, with my own struggles of being closeted,” says Page of Freeheld. “It’s lovely to be part of a film that’s reflecting upon why we need the Supreme Court ruling and why we need to continue to strive to equality. I think the film is reflecting a time when that change is happening.”

As much as change is in the air in 2015, it’s also on the screen. Though Hollywood’s track record when it comes to telling the stories of LGBT lives is far from gleaming, this fall season boasts one of the richest and most varied batch of films yet to dramatize the struggles of gay and transgendered people.

Freeheld (in theaters Oct. 2) is about Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) and her domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Page). When Hester, an Ocean County, New Jersey, police officer, began dying of terminal lung cancer in 2005, she appealed to the county Board of Freeholders to allow her pension to go to Andree. Though it would have been automatic for a married couple, the board initially refused.

Eight years after a documentary short on Hester won an Oscar, screenwriter Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) has penned the dramatization, directed by Peter Sollett and co-starring Steve Carell and Michael Shannon.

Todd Haynes’ Carol (out Nov. 20), based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, is about the illicit love affair between two women (Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara) in the conservative 1950s. A lushly detailed period film, thick with an atmosphere of socially enforced repression, the film rides a wave of praise from the Cannes Film Festival, where Mara shared in the best actress award.

Blanchett, in an interview at Cannes, said that while love between two lesbians is of course central to Carol, it’s ultimately about love, regardless of gender.

“There’s something Romeo and Juliet-esque about it,” Blanchett said. “There’s a universality to the love story that moves it out of the niche. It’s about the perspective or the feeling of being in love for the first time. And, yes, it’s not immaterial that there are two women at the center of it. But at certain moments, it kind of is.”

Also in November is The Danish Girl, directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech). Based on the 1920s Copenhagen novel by David Ebershoff and starring Eddie Redmayne, it’s a fictionalized account of Lili Elbe, among the first to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

While that trio of films is expected to play major roles in awards season, there are others in the mix, too.

Roland Emmerich, taking a break from the disaster spectacles like White House Down and The Day After Tomorrow, depicts one of the most pivotal moments in the gay rights movement in Stonewall (Sept. 25), a drama set around the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots in New York’s Greenwich Village.

And months after the celebrated transformation of Caitlyn Jenner, About Ray (Sept. 18) is about a teenager’s (Elle Fanning) transition from female to male, and how her family reacts.

It can be overly optimistic to take any seasonal trend as a sign of wider industry progress. Studies have confirmed that Hollywood continues to lag in representing the diversity of its audiences. Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg school recently found that among the 4,610 speaking characters in the 100 top-grossing films in 2014, only 19 were lesbian, gay or bisexual. None were transgender.

Many of these films also struggled to make it to the big screen. It took Carol almost two decades to finally get made; screenwriter Phyllis Nagy wrote her first draft in 1996.

Equality for LGBT people also, of course, continues to be a divisive issue for some across the country. Page recently confronted presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz at the Iowa State Fair on his views on gay rights.

But in a year marked by significant advancement for gay rights, many, like Page, are buoyed by the upswing in this fall’s films — a crop of movies that add more lesbian and transgender stories to the indelible, but largely male movies (Philadelphia, Milk, Brokeback Mountain) that have come before.

“I wish there were more gay stories and I do think that that’s happening,” she says. “That does seem like something that’s getting a lot stronger, thankfully — a voice that’s getting stronger, a community that’s getting stronger.”

Oscars: Who will win … and who should win

Ahead of Sunday’s 87th Academy Awards, Associated Press film writers Jake Coyle and Lindsey Bahr share their predictions for a ceremony that could be a nail biter.

BEST PICTURE

COYLE:

Will Win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman comes home to roost despite the landmark accomplishment of Boyhood. As a celebration of showbiz, it’s the Shakespeare in Love of its time.

Should Win: Boyhood marries film and time in a uniquely powerful way, but it’s also worth making a case for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, the most relentlessly fun and inventive film of the year.

Should Have Been a Contender: Interstellar. Christopher Nolan’s epic is unloved, but it’s a glorious sci-fi soup that would have added some big-budget dazzle to the Oscars. I mean, it’s got a fourth dimension.

BAHR:

Will Win: While Birdman‘s formal ambitions and extraordinary ensemble cast are impressive, the earnest 12-year experiment that spawned a compelling film in Boyhood is just too good a narrative to ignore.

Should Win: Boyhood, but not because of dedication. A lot of people toil for years on their dream projects. Boyhood is a great and deeply humane film that celebrates the ordinariness of the everyday and is destined to be a classic.

Should Have Been a Contender: In ten years we’ll look back on Interstellar’s near-absence from this year’s Academy Awards as a grave cinematic injustice. At least Nolan is in good company. 2001: A Space Odyssey was shut out of the best picture race too.

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BEST ACTOR

BAHR:

Will Win: In one of the most hotly contested categories of the entire race, it wouldn’t be surprising if the academy went with the comparatively elder statesmen Michael Keaton for the comeback performance of a lifetime. Redmayne will get another shot.

Should Win: Keaton. We shouldn’t really care about the artistic endeavors of a past his prime megalomaniac, but Keaton was able to make Riggan Thomson at turns sympathetic, wholly unlikable and desperately sad.

Should Have Been a Contender: There are so many great performances that would have warranted a nomination here, including David Oyelowo for his powerful and studied take on Martin Luther King, Jr in Selma and Oscar Isaac’s determined entrepreneur in A Most Violent Year.

COYLE:

Will Win: Redmayne. The freckled one appears to be the favorite for his technically impressive performance.

Should Win: Keaton. Redmayne is a talented young actor, but he’s a little precious for a physicist. Keaton has been an electric live-wire for decades.

Should Have Been a Contender: The performance of the year was Timothy Spall’s J.M.W. Turner in Mr. Turner. If the Oscars were judged on grunting ability (and shouldn’t they be?), he’d win in a cakewalk.

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BEST ACTRESS

COYLE:

Will Win: Julianne Moore, Still Alice. A great actress overdue for an Oscar, although the film is … forgettable.

Should Win: Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night. The French actress deserved nods for both this unadorned performance and for the unfairly overlooked The Immigrant.

Should Have Been a Contender: Tilda Swinton, Only Lovers Left Alive. In Jim Jarmusch’s bitingly funny vampire tale, she’s captivating just walking down a Tangier street. One of cinema’s most exotic creatures.

BAHR:

Will Win: Five-time nominee Moore is long overdue for an Oscar and her nuanced portrayal of an accomplished woman deteriorating at the hands of early onset Alzheimer’s in an otherwise mediocre movie is her golden ticket.

Should Win: Moore for any other performance? But if we have to count this year’s contenders: Felicity Jones. The Theory of Everything is Jane Hawking’s story and Jones’ self-possessed take on a woman in an incredibly difficult situation has been upstaged by the flashier performance in the film.

Should Have Been a Contender: Comedian Jenny Slate showed great depth, humor and empathy in the perfectly realized Obvious Child, a film so enjoyable and of its time that older guard institutions probably didn’t know what to do with it.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

BAHR:

Will Win: J.K. Simmons’ maniacal jazz instructor in Whiplash has been the top choice since the film premiered at Sundance over a year ago.

Should Win: Simmons, and it’ll be extremely disappointing if he doesn’t lose it at the Oscar orchestra when they try to play him off.

Should Have Been a Contender: Tony Revolori was barely even in the conversation for his magnetic, loyal lobby boy Zero in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson’s stylish aesthetic seems to blind people to the fact that there truly compelling and emotional performances beneath the Popsicle-colored environs.

COYLE:

Will Win: Simmons so blows away all other candidates, it’s not even close. Get out of his class!

Should Win: Simmons. A career character actor takes a well-deserved bow.

Should Have Been a Contender: Much was rightly made of Jake Gyllenhaal’s creepy turn in Nightcrawler, but the film only works if it has the heart of Riz Ahmed’s trusty sidekick.

___

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

COYLE:

Will Win: Patricia Arquette is lock for Boyhood.

Should Win: Arquette. The best, most tender scene in Boyhood is when Arquette’s character, having raised her kids and watched their “series of milestones” unfold wonders what’s next for her. “I just thought there would be more,” she laments. It’s an unforgettable moment.

Should Have Been a Contender: Every year, countless performances from foreign films go unrewarded, but it feels like a genuine mistake that Agata Kulesza from the Polish film Ida didn’t win a nomination. As the bitter, hard-drinking judge Wanda, heavy with Polish history, she’s about as good as it gets.

BAHR:

Will Win: Funny that some of us once thought Arquette’s deeply felt portrayal of a mother and a woman coming into her own would go unnoticed by Academy. Now, the award’s in the bag.

Should Win: Arquette, and we should all be thrilled that a subtle performance in an original film is the undisputed front runner.

Should Have Been a Contender: Relative unknown Katherine Waterston elevated Inherent Vice‘s Shasta Fay Hepworth from arm-candy in distress to a woman who is at turns fully formed and a bewitching enigma – a tricky balancing act between two opposite ideas. It was a flawless melding of actress and role.

___

BEST DIRECTOR

BAHR:

Will Win: The formal ambitions that probably won’t be enough to secure a best picture win for Birdman will likely be acknowledged with a best director win for Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Should Win: The scrappy one-week-a-year shooting schedule and lack of a fully realized script might make Richard Linklater easier to overlook in this category, but that would be mistake.

Should Have Been a Contender: Inherent Vice is another one of those movies that is ahead of its time. Paul Thomas Anderson continues to reinvent himself with every picture and this hazy, evocative private eye yarn is both exquisite and underappreciated.

COYLE:

Will Win: Like best picture, this comes down to the showy elan of Inarritu’s Birdman against the patient humanism of Linklater. I suspect Birdman takes picture, leaving director to the Texan.

Should Win: It’s hard to match the brio of Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, the culmination of a trio of top-notch releases for the director following Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom.

Should Have Been a Contender: Was David Fincher’s examination of marriage in Gone Girl too dark for some academy members? Blood baths in beds will do that. What a shame; this was the most conversation-starting movie of the year, a gender warfare time-bomb.

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

BAHR:

Will Win: With two co-written screenplay nominations to his name, the Academy has already flirted with Wes Anderson’s idiosyncratic dialogue and storytelling, and it looks like they’ll finally embrace it with a statue for the mainstream hit The Grand Budapest Hotel, which Anderson co-wrote with Hugo Guinness.

Should Win: Anderson is expert at juxtaposing whimsy with the extremely dark and cynical and the The Grand Budapest Hotel is exemplary of his (and Guinness’s) unique talent for creating compelling yet unconventional stories.

Should Have Been a Contender: J.C. Chandor’s elegant and controlled A Most Violent Year came and went without much fanfare, but this forgotten gem explores characters, motivations and moral ambiguities with a first-rate story.

COYLE:

Will Win: This is likely the biggest award the academy will bestow on the The Grand Budapest Hotel, which comes in with nine nods yet somehow not one for Ralph Fiennes.

Should Win: Anderson deserves it, but a case could also be made for Dan Gilroy’s wonderfully wacked out Nightcrawler.

Should Have Been a Contender: The thickly atmospheric A Most Violent Year turned the gangster movie on its head, situating itself not with crooks on the street, but with supposedly straight businessmen.

___

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

COYLE:

Will Win: Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash (only “adapted” because he first made a Whiplash short) is taught and full of something great scripts have: snappy, quotable lines. It should be to the academy’s tempo.

Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice) deserves a medal just for trying to adapt Thomas Pynchon and not losing his mind in the process.

Should Have Been a Contender: How did Gillian Flynn’s screenplay for Gone Girl not make it in here? A worldwide bestseller is turned into deliciously pulpy suburban noir: This is what this category is for.

BAHR:

Will Win: Chazelle’s pulsating Whiplash, presents a portrait of an artist on the edge of greatness like we’ve never seen before.

Should Win: Whiplash, even though it’s still a little baffling why it’s considered an adapted screenplay.

Should Have Been a Contender: Writing a novel and writing a screenplay are two very different skills and Gone Girl author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn somehow mastered both. Her brutal and necessary cuts and modifications helped steer the film to stand-alone greatness.

Read more: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2015/02/oscar-predictions-what-will-and-should-win-at-the-academy-awards-111623.html#ixzz3SNtISURq 

Playing Stephen Hawking a complex equation for Redmayne

Time is relative, especially for young actors tasked with playing brilliant theoretical physicists.

Eddie Redmayne estimates that the euphoria of being cast as Stephen Hawking for the film “The Theory of Everything” lasted a millisecond. Then came the overwhelming fear.

“And that fear remained the whole way through the process,” Redmayne said in an interview earlier this fall.

The gentle, freckled 32-year-old British actor was asked to not only lead a film for the first time, but to play a mathematical genius across decades of physical degeneration — all under the watchful gaze of said mathematical genius. Ahead of screening “The Theory of Everything,” Hawking ominously told Redmayne: “I’ll tell you want I think, good or otherwise.”

With such pressure, Redmayne could be forgiven for quietly slipping into the nearest black hole.

But in the year’s most technically complex role, Redmayne gives what’s surely the performance of his young career, one that seeks to capture not only the step-by-step disintegration of ALS that led Hawking from healthy youth to paralyzed adulthood, but (and more importantly) the scientist’s unvanquished spirit, the unimpeded expansion of his imagination. 

“He was given a death sentence,” says Redmayne, referring to the diagnosis given Hawking as a 21-year-old, when he was expected to live only a few years more. Now 72, he went on to father three children, marry twice and author significant discoveries in cosmology as in the best-selling “A Brief History of Time.” “So you live every single moment to the full, and that’s what I wanted an audience to leave with. That’s what I left this experience with.”

Director James Marsh (“Man on Wire”) remembers well his first meeting with Redmayne, a London native best known for his Tony-winning turn in John Logan’s “Red” and his tender revolutionary Marius in “Les Miserables.” One pint turned to five, the conversation going into the night.

“He was just full of ideas and passion for this,” says Marsh. “He knew somewhat what this might entail in terms of preparation and physicality. Eddie’s crazily ambitious. He’s not ambitious for money or fame. He’s ambitious to do great work. He’s fearless, too. It was a real leap into the dark for him.”

“The Theory of Everything” is based on Jane Wilde Hawking’s 2007 memoir “Traveling to Infinite: My Life With Stephen.” Aside from a biopic, it’s a portrait of an uncommon marriage. Felicity Jones pays Jane, whom Hawking met at Cambridge University in the early 1960s.

The film begins with their early courtship, which coincided with the discovery of a motor neuron disease in Hawking. Redmayne plays each stage of Hawking’s increasing disability, going from a lame leg to a walking stick, to two sticks, to a wheel chair. Gradually he loses his voice, his body language, his facial expressions.

“It felt like solving a puzzle,” says Redmayne.

Redmayne spent four months researching, working on the physicality and feebly studying Hawking’s physics. He trained with a choreographer, met with academics (Redmayne also went to Cambridge), visited with many ALS sufferers and had an expert study old photos of Hawking to trace the disease’s effects.

“There were moments along the way where I know he felt really, really defeated,” says Marsh.

To guide him, Redmayne posted three photos in his trailer: Albert Einstein, James Dean (since Hawking was, Redmayne says, “a ladies man”), and a joker playing card, to capture Hawking’s playful side. “If you’re in a room with him, he’s definitely running the room,” says Redmayne.

But aside from all the technical challenges, Redmayne imbues Hawking with a sly mischievousness. Much of the performance is in a glint behind his eyes.

“What emanates from him when you meet him is this kind of wit and humor,” says Redmayne. “Even though he can move so few muscles, he has one of the most charismatic, expressive faces you’ve ever seen, which is a weird irony. There were many things I found out from meeting with him, but one of the overall things I took away was finding he does not live a disease. He lives forward and has done since he was 21 years old. There’s an unerring optimism to him. That meant every single scene, even when obstacles are being through, find the funny, find the glint.”

When Hawking saw the film a few weeks before its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, he judged it “broadly true.” But he offered a personal endorsement, giving Marsh his unique computer-generated voice to use in the film.

Redmayne, widely considered a lock for an Oscar nomination, has plans to star in the next film by Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables,” “The King’s Speech”). But he hasn’t worked since filming “The Theory of Everything.” The gravity of the part, for which he lost some 20 lbs., is slowly falling off him. 

He sighs. “I had many glasses of wine after.”