EDDIE REDMAYNE - All About The Art
Edward John David Redmayne was born and raised in London, England, the son of Patricia (Burke) and Richard Charles Tunstall Redmayne, a businessman. His great-grandfather was Sir Richard Augustine Studdert Redmayne, a noted civil and mining engineer. He has English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh ancestry. Redmayne is the only member of his family to follow a career in acting, and also modeled during his teen years. He was educated at Eton College before going on to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied History of Art. Encouraged by his parents, Redmayne took drama lessons from a young age. His first stage appearance was in the Sam Mendes production of “Oliver!” in London’s West End. He played a workhouse boy. Acting continued through school and university, including performing with the National Youth Music Theatre.
Redmayne’s first professional stage performance came in 2002 at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, where he played Viola in ‘Twelfth Night’. In 2004, he won the prestigious Evening Standard Outstanding Newcomer Award for his working in Edward Albee’s play, ‘The Goat’. Further stage successes followed and in 2009 he starred in John Logan’s ‘Red’ at the Donmar Warehouse in London. He won huge critical acclaim for his role, winning an Oliver Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The play transferred to Broadway in 2010, and Redmayne went on to win a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play.
Alongside his stage career, Redmayne has worked steadily in television and film. Notable projects include Robert De Niro’s, The Good Shepherd (2006), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (2008), The Pillars of the Earth (2010) and My Week with Marilyn (2011). In 2012, he co-starred in the musical Les Misérables (2012), as Marius Pontmercy.
Then in 2014, Redmayne played scientist Stephen Hawking in the biographical film drama, The Theory of Everything, opposite Felicity Jones – as Stephen’s wife, Jane Hawking. For his performance, Redmayne won multiple awards – including the Academy Award for Best Actor. As such, he became the first man born in the 1980’s to win an acting Oscar.
Flash forward to 2016 and Redmayne finds himself in similar company for the Oscar for his outstanding performance in The Danish Girl, with best supporting actress nominee, Alicia Vikander. The two actors put forth an incredibly captivating and moving performance, pushing each other’s limits and exploring sexuality and emotion in this powerful film about the life of Lili Elbe, the first woman to transition from man to woman in the early nineteen-hundred’s. We sat with Eddie and found a smart, intuitive man, who was very in touch with his emotions and his skillful acting.
STRIPLV: Who was Lili Elbe?
REDMAYNE: Lili was an extraordinary woman who lived in the early 20th century and she was born Einar Wegener and she became perhaps the first woman to transition and undergo gender confirmation surgery.
STRIPLV: Why is she considered a pioneer and what is so extraordinary about her?
REDMAYNE: What’s extraordinary about Lili is that, in an age in which there were no predecessors, there were no transgender women that she was aware of, she had the bravery and the courage to pursue living a life authentic. I find it very interesting that we hear people go: “Just go be yourself,” and it sounds like the easiest thing in the world to just be yourself, and yet it’s not, and particularly for her. It was a huge, huge battle that she undertook with great courage and she won. She became herself.
STRIPLV: Did she do it alone? Tell me more about Gerda and what her role was in this life-altering event for Lili.
REDMAYNE: Gerda was a formidable woman, again living the early 20th century. She was an artist. She worked independently. She had ambition and she had drive in a time when those things were perhaps frowned upon for women, and she had great love for Lili, who was then living as Einar Wegener. One of the extraordinary things about this story for me is the profundity of love. What an extraordinary thing it can be, and how it is not defined by gender, by sexuality, by race, by religion, by anything. It’s something other. It’s about the soul. At its core, The Danish Girl is an incredibly unique and beautiful love story.
STRIPLV: In the film, what’s the catalyst for Lili to start to explore her feminine side or Lili and Gerda to start exploring that together ?
REDMAYNE: It’s interesting, because when I was preparing to play Lili, many of the transwomen I met, in fact all the transwomen I met, described how they were a different gender to that than what they were assigned at birth, from the first moment they could remember, from when they were three or four years old. One of the interesting things to me is that there’s this extraordinary drawing of Lili when she was living as Einar with this long, starched collar and this tight, tailored male suit, and its almost as if she and society have constructed this sort of male exoskeleton, which she had to unravel. The catalyst for Lili’s emergence was a moment in which Gerda, who was painting portraits, painting Ulla, some famed ballerina, and Ulla couldn’t turn up for her sitting. So she asked Lili, who was then living as Einar, to put on stockings and shoes in order that she could paint the detail, for someone who had repressed themselves for many years, who had concocted this exoskeleton, a sort of guise under which to survive.
STRIPLV: So this was Lili’s first emergence…
REDMAYNE: So I suppose, for me, I related that to this scene. The scene in the ballroom is Lili for the first time coming out in public. She has a certain safety in the sense that she has framed it as playing this game with her wife. There has been a sort of playfulness and a caprice in it. But actually the stakes are higher for her, and within the furor of watching women of that extraordinary adrenalin-fueled wonder that comes from blending, from being approached by men, to eventually being kissed by a man. But that fear and danger is sort of underneath all the equal excitement and joy, I suppose.
STRIPLV: What did you and Tom discuss when it came to the delicateness, or the beats that you wanted to hit with the character throughout the scene.
REDMAYNE: Throughout the scene, I suppose for me, because the scene was one in which… because it was a game—she had framed within that way… and she is just emerging. And so she has been living as a man for a long time. She has been wearing these high starched collars. She’s been in this sort of exoskeleton of maleness. She is beginning to have the environment which she can relearn her femininity, so she’s watching other women. She is copying. She is finding out how she can discover her own femininity. But also under these incredibly high stakes, you’ve got to remember, at that time, this notion of… it was unheard of, absolutely unheard of, so there was a fear around the scene, as well.
STRIPLV: Tell me about working with Alicia, and if you had a favorite scene or favorite moment?
REDMAYNE: Alicia Vikander is just the most phenomenal actress. She has this amazing mixture of formidable technique. She trained as a dancer and people often cite that performance in Ex Machina—they say, “What incredible poise.” But what blew my mind was that she has this incredible, deep visceral relationship with her emotions, and she has a boldness that is on another level, and she challenged me and raised my game continuously. It was one of the huge joys of this film was getting to work with her.
STRIPLV: There is an audience that will relate to Lili’s story specifically. What are some of the themes that a wider audience you hope will relate to within this film?
REDMAYNE: I suppose what I… Lili’s story is a very unique story. One of the things that I learned while I was prepping the film is that there is no one, trans story. Everyone’s story is different. Of course it is. Everyone is different. But I suppose one of the things that really touched me is this notion of being yourself, and it sounds like the simplest of things, to be yourself, and yet I think it’s one of the hardest. Now Lili’s story and Lili’s specific life, the courage that she needed to be herself was dumbfounding. I suppose that within all of us there’s a finding of authenticity. To find what it takes to live a life of authenticity is a complicated question.
STRIPLV: How do you hope the audiences are affected by the film?
REDMAYNE: I hope the audiences are as moved by the love story that is the ground rock of The Danish Girl as I was when I read the script. I hope that they fall for these two wonderful women who challenged each other, who challenged society, who were pioneers in many ways almost a hundred years ago. I hope through their story and through their love, they can galvanize us to aspire to live an authentic life.