This Sunday a selected group of 7 Eddie Redmayne fan-bloggers had the opportunity to speak with Eddie in a conference call, and they talked not only about his experiences with shooting The Danish Girl, but also about theatre, possible future projects, his love for art and painting. All the question asked were very thoughtful and Eddie gave the most insightful if a bit rambly at times answers. Make sure you read all to the end as Eddie has a message for all his fans.
A big thank you to Eddie, his agents and @bespokeredmayne who organised this event. Sadly, BespokeRedmayne fell ill on the day of the interview and couldn’t attend. We wish her a very speedy recovery. She surely was in our thoughts throughout the interview.
And another big thank you to the other involved bloggers, you guys were amazing!
Eddie Redmayne: Hi guys!
Fran (redbastchedcumbermayned): Hi Eddie, it’s Fran from Munich.
F: You said when you finished shooting The Theory of Everything that the character of Stephen Hawking stayed with you for a very long time. Did you experience something similar after you finished shooting The Danish Girl?
ER: You know I always, I sort of am not a method actor, so I always tend to think that I’m quite good at getting out of character and leaving the work at work rather than taking it home. But I think sometimes character traits or physical elements stay within me a wee bit, and it’s normally Hannah that points these out. So, I’m not sure after The Danish Girl, I found probably something in my hand movements, there’s sort of elements of that, but I always think that all of those characteristics are gone. But occasionally Hannah will find them out.
F: Thank you!
Kate (@iloveeddieredmayne): Hi Eddie, it’s Kate from iloveeddieredmayne.com
ER: Hey Kate, how are you?
K: I’m well, how are you?
ER: Yes, good, really good.
K: I’ve read that in order to understand Lili deeper, you spent a considerable amount of time with trans women. What was the most powerful thing they helped you understand about their trans experience? And do you think your role as Lili will help viewers understand and empathize with this experience?
ER: It’s difficult to think about a specific thing. One particular woman, Cadence Valentine and her partner Trista, they were so generous with their time, and especially Cadence gave me two lines: It came to a point that she knew before she transitioned she needed to give her everything and anything and live a life authentic, that was the first thing. And also her love for her partner was so strong because she had to go on this journey in some ways to find herself, it was a constant question of how deep her partner’s pool of empathy was. And that phrase ‘How deep was Trista’s pool of empathy’, and that she would give her everything and anything to live a life authentic, those were the two things I sort of had written on the front of my script, and I tried to refer to.
There were amazing specific stories. What I would do is take certain moments in the film which obviously is in the 1920ies and then try and show them to the women that I was meeting and ask them: ‘Can you relate to any of these?’ For example, with the ball scene when Lili goes out for the first time, one trans woman described how early on in her transition Halloween was her favourite night of the year because this meant that she could get dressed up and be a woman with the safety of it being a day of dress-up. And she was going out one night dressed as a woman and was in a bar and this guy came to hit on her. And for her, she described it as this extraordinary shot of adrenalin because this man was seeing her as a woman, as who she was, mixed with the utter fear and danger of what would happen if this person realises I’m not who I am. And this mixture of adrenalin with fear of violence was something that I felt like I can take that scenario and can place it into the ball scene. It was a really helpful moment.
I suppose for me the film is foremost a story about love. As far as what I hope it does, I hope it continues a conversation and discussion that has happened over the last years and has becoming mainstream in the past year or two and in any way the film will continue that and educate people like I’ve been educated or just encourage people to learn about trans experiences then this would be a wonderful thing for me.
K: Yeah, exactly. Thank you.
ER: Thank you.
Cris (@eddie-redmayne-italian-blog): Hi it’s Cris from Italy. After all these magnificent and stunning cinematic interpretations, would yo go back to the theatre?
ER: I really want to go back to theatre. But this weird thing happened, for many years it was difficult to get a part in a film and specifically interesting scripts, because you are sort of low down the pecking order, and what has happened over the past year or so was that for the first time perhaps one gets more interesting opportunities. But for me it’s always down to the script really. I’ve been reading plays and there’s some great things around, so it’s about finding the right thing really. I hope all my life to get the mix between theatre and film.
C: Okay, thank you.
Zoe (@sirredmayne): In the past, you’ve talked about how you reach emotional moments in scenes – having things shouted at you off-camera (Hick, Theory of Everything), starting a scene again without stopping (Les Mis) – how did you get ready for Lili’s more emotional scenes?:
ER: That’s a really good question. I think it was probably more about people I met in preparation and hearing their stories of, I suppose, their vulnerability. All the trans women I met were incredibly strong people, they would always talk with great strength about what they’ve been through, but hearing that vulnerability … Tom Hooper describes how in life all of us have blocks between ourselves and the best version of ourselves. He says there can be no more profound block than that between the gender that we’ve been assigned at birth and that which we are and what that takes. I’ve actually found the related experiences of the trans women I met incredibly moving and that’s were I tried to get emotionally for me.
Ali (eddieremayne.net): Hi, I’m Ali, I run eddieredmayne.net. Of all the productions you have been a part of, which one did you feel you learned the most about yourself as an individual?
ER: (Long delighted sigh) I think probably Red, a play I did in London and then in New York, and it was about everything I’m interested in. It was about artists and history of art and so I had I suppose a sort of cosmetic interest in, but what it talked about, there was this wonderful discussion in the play about Dionysus and Apollo, and those two different gods represent in some ways two different ways of living. One is order and the other is some sort of Bacchanalian chaos and joy, and living life is oscillating between those two things, and if you have a patch on one of those for a moment that’s were happiness is, because the second you have knowledge of your happiness you have already moved on. And I found this a great life lesson.
Also because when I was doing this play I played Rothko’s assistant, and he was a fictional character. But when I was doing this play in New York the widow of the artist who had been Rothko’s last assistant came and saw the play with lots of elder women who’ve been taught by this guy, Dan Rice, and I started reading around about Dan’s work and he had written this lovely thing about being an artist: ‘Being an artist is not about palette and all that but the aspiration for perfection with the acknowledgement that you’ll never get there.’ And one of the things about acting is when you do a play, you never get it right and it’s endlessly frustrating, more frustrating on film, because you only have this one morning or one day to get the scene right and you always leave knowing you not got close to what it is. But I suppose hearing what Dan had to say, it’s about learning to enjoy the process whilst continuously aspiring to do your best although you never actually are going to achieve this.
Judit (@addictedtoeddie): Hi, I’m Judit from Hungary.
ER: Hey Judit.
J: I know you like practical art, did you make some paintings or drawings for The Danish Girl movie?
ER: That’s a very good question. I did some drawings and a wee bit of painting to try to get what Einar’s, or Lili when she was living as Einar, what her technique was. Alicia and I talked a lot about the difference between the way those two artists painted, and certainly in the set design in that scene when we are in the artist studio Gerda’s character has a flamboyant kind of mess of a corner as were as Lili’s corner is much more ordered. And the way she paints when she’s living as Einar is very … I wanted it to be very controlled because Lana Wachowski has described how Einar’s paintings would always go back to painting subject-matter, researching into the parts really. I did a wee bit of drawing and painting to try and work out how she might have painted when she was Einar. And it was interesting for Alicia as well because she just shot Tulip Fever and she had played an artist in that as well. It’s always fun playing artists.
J: I know you like practical art. Thank you!
Fran: Not fully related to The Danish Girl, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed War Art. So, is there any chance that you will work with Margy Kinmonth again on a sequel to War Art? Maybe one that explains the art of Einar and Gerda Wegener? It think that would be something a lot of people would enjoy.
ER: Oh god, well, what a wonderful idea. (laughs) You know it was interesting making that film, so thank you for watching it. I actually found it really difficult because you having to be yourself and you suddenly realise there’s an art to … What I wanted on that film because I’m curious in that period of art was to try and be a bit of a cipher through which to meet people who knew a lot about this. I found it quite complicated to make but working with Margy was wonderful. I don’t know about Gerda and Lili’s art, that’s a really interesting idea. At the moment I’m incredibly busy, but never say never. Certainly there are lots of artist I would love to investigate. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. It was also interesting for me doing War Art because it related with some of the research I’d done for Birdsong, so it was nice to go and sort of re-immerse myself in that world.
F: Yeah, thank you. I just really thought that was – and I don’t want to diminish your work as an actor – I just might have enjoyed that the best, it was so informative and in Munich we have lots of paintings of the German war artists
F: So it was nice to get an in into the British and also the modern war artists. Thank you for doing that.
ER: No problem.
Cris: What did you think when you first read the book, what was your first impression or thought?
ER: What did I think when I first read the book? Well, I had read the script first. What is interesting with David’s book is that Gerda’s character is American, and by that point I had done some research into the real story as well. I find the first version you read of something has the most impact, but what was interesting was after some work with the script to return to the book, some of the details David brought in, for example the scene in Paris when Lili goes to the Peep Show there were beautiful moments of description which I found incredibly helpful. And I thought it was a beautiful book.
C: Okay, thank you.
Kate: How was it working with Tom Hooper again? Did you find it easier to be more open and vulnerable considering you two have already built a trust and friendship over the years?
ER: Do you now what is interesting about when you work on films with the budget of The Danish Girl or Theory Of Everything is basically you don’t have time. The Fantastic Beasts film I’m working on at the moment, it’s months and months of work. Here you literally have 8 weeks and what is difficult if you are playing a part that is challenging is you want to have great trust in your director because the budget on such films don’t allow rehearsal time. Quite often this early weeks of filming are about gaining trust, but you are also shooting at that point.
What was wonderful about Tom was I didn’t have to do any of that sort of dance early on. I trust him hugely and he has a wonderful eye, he also knows me well enough to know how to get the best out of me. I get quite nervous when I’m working and so what he’ll allow me to do is filming an extra couple of takes. He’ll say we got it and then he’ll say but have another couple of takes to play around with it. I sort of stifle myself a bit on the early takes and he emboldens me by saying let’s go and have another couple of takes. It was also a lovely thing because it was getting to work with a friend.
Zoe: Did you feel any more pressure coming back to set as an Oscar winner after a weekend off?
ER: Sure. I thought that sometimes … The whole thing felt so surreal and so not … it almost didn’t feel like it happened to you and you worry back on set, and you do a take and Tom comes up and you know that you have just done your best work and someone is going ‘no that’s not good’. Cate Blanchett said the other day about reading reviews or something like that, you are your own harshest critic, you never think you are doing a proper job. So, certainly when I came back I had all those moments of anxiety. It didn’t change anything.
Z: Thank you!
Ali: You have had many opportunities as a result of your career, what is something you would still like to experience or achieve?
ER: Wow. (long pause) I’m really difficult with things like that same as when people ask me about what parts I would like to play. I’m pretty lucky that I get to do the job I do. The way I work I just read something and if I feel an instinct for it and I think it’s going to push me then I get excited. I don’t know if I’m a massive dreamer in that sense, I don’t set up huge expectations and I don’t know if I haven’t read enough or don’t have a broad enough imagination … But there are no specific things really …
A: So the key is more being working in the field and being challenged.
ER: Exactly. And maybe one day after years of kind of understanding the world of film making perhaps work behind the camera for a moment.
A: Thank you!
Judit: What is the most surprising thing you learnt from the trans women you met during your preparation?
ER: The most surprising thing … (very long pause, lots of sighing) … the most surprising thing … I’m really trying to think about that … Shit! Judit, you caught me proper. Everything was an education but I don’t think anything in particular jumps out at me.
J: Maybe what was an interesting story …
ER: One of the things that I found riveting was this one trans woman in London who described how the clothes she wore were very … she would wear like tracksuit bottoms and a basketball shirt, she described how she would always put a rucksack on one shoulder to give her curves. It would shift the weight in her body and give her curves. One of the complicated things of playing Lili was actually the fashion for the time, the 1920ies, was quite male and androgynous, there weren’t curves, so it was difficult to create a sort of contrapposto. So that was an interesting idea for me to finding ways to create angles in your body. And even though it felt quite cosmetic it rang true with a lot of trans women I’ve spoken in London. So that was an interesting info.
J: Thank you!
ER: Can I also say something? Thank you so, so much for the support, it means the world. And some of you guys are from different parts of the world and that’s always intriguing to see, but thank you for being so supportive for such a long time. Meet you all soon.
After 25 minutes of talking to us Eddie had to sprint to get to his other appointment in time. Thank you, Eddie, for such a wonderful experience and thank you for making it so ridiculously easy to be a fan of you. [Source]