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Director Tom Hooper urges film industry to cast more transgender actors

Published 06/09/2015

Tom Hooper said there was much more the film industry could do to improve opportunities for transgender actors (AP)
Tom Hooper said there was much more the film industry could do to improve opportunities for transgender actors (AP)
Amber Heard, Tom Hooper, Alicia Vikander, Eddie Redmayne and Matthias Schoenaerts pose on the red carpet (AP)

The British director behind a new film starring Eddie Redmayne as one of the first recipients of gender reassignment surgery has urged the industry to cast more transgender actors in lead roles.

Speaking just moments after the world premiere of The Danish Girl at the Venice Film Festival, Tom Hooper, who also directed Les Miserables and The King's Speech, said there was "a lot more the industry could do" to improve opportunities.

"I think t he industry has a long way to go in making sure trans actors and actresses have the same opportunities as cisgender actors and actresses, and in making sure trans film makers have the same quality of opportunity", he said, adding that film makers should "give them the chance to play both trans and cisgender roles".

Mr Hooper said he was "lost for words" and "humbled" after the film received a 10-minute standing ovation at the film festival, adding that the "emotion on people's faces" was evident.

"Reading the script back in 2008 made me cry, so it was a seven year journey to make sure that I managed to do the same to others", he said.

The Danish Girl is based on the true story of Danish painter Einar Wegener, who underwent a series of operations in the early 1930s to become Lili Elbe.

Its premiere comes amid growing awareness of transgender rights.

In June, Caitlyn Jenner revealed her transformation from Bruce Jenner on the front cover of Vanity Fair after undergoing gender reassignment surgery, and was overwhelmed by the public support she received.

Mr Hooper said the reception to the film so far proved that attitudes towards transgender people were changing.

" I first read the script in 2008 when I was just beginning my early preparations for the King's Speech - at that point it was a hard film to get made and now people say it's an obvious one to have done. But I promise you that was not the climate then", he said.

Redmayne, who plays the lead role, was approached with the script for the film by Mr Hooper while they were on the set of Les Miserables in 2008.

Following criticism that Lili should have been played by a transgender actor, Mr Hooper said he had been "open" to "any way of casting it", but "always had a strong instinct about casting Eddie from the beginning".

He added: "I think there is something about Eddie which is drawn to the feminine that I thought was interesting for him to explore."

:: The film will be released in UK cinemas on January 1 next year.

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