The Danish Girl "a mistake"?

It was more his acting style I was thinking of. So many ACTOOORS of Sir Larry’s era DECLAIMED their roles as they projected to the back row of the stalls, even though they were on film. It was the Americans who learnt how little you need do with a look for it still to have impact on film.
Tom Hanks talked about Mark Rylance as having that quality of stillness in Bridge of Spies - that amazing ability to underplay and yet project so much. I think James Stewart had it.

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But a great actor does so much more than that Geof. -John Lithgow as Churchill in The Crown - just brilliant.

And how far do we take this need to redress social exclusion? I’m not sure two wrongs make a right.

Speaking of Tom Hanks - in Philadelphia - just an awe-inspiring portrayal of a gay man with Aids. Are we in a world now where only a gay man should be “allowed” to play that role?

You’ve missed the point Sue - a great actor doesn’t need the make-up, etc; a great play will challenge it’s audience, not blandly fulfill their every expectation.

Surely there’s a difference between fact and fiction, with a fictional play or film the colour/sexuality of the actors is often irrelevant but it’s more of a struggle when the particular piece is about real events, the recent C4 tv drama ‘It’s A Sin’ about the AIDS epidemic wouldn’t have been the same with ‘straight’ actors playing the main characters.

But as is generally the case in these situations, is depends how you frame the issue. The exact opposite way of looking at it is that It’s not about the who should be allowed to do it, but rather giving the chance to someone other than the easy option, someone who is overlooked. There are some exceptional disabled actors in the world, there are some exceptional trans actors in the world. Can you name 5 of each for me? I’m betting not. I suspect the most the vast majority of people can come up with is one maximum, if at all. They’re out there, they’re just not being given the opportunities, so at the very least why not make an effort to try and find someone, anyone, with the lived experience to play the role before you just go to one of the easy options. If you can’t then great, at least you tried.

Instead of a negative it could be framed as giving a leg up to a performer who could be one of the greatest talents of the day but is currently being declined the chances they deserve because of their characteristics that are seen as negative by casting directors. If the only roles trans actors are able to get cast in are trans characters, then giving half those roles to cis actors makes even less chances for them. If trans actors and disabled actors were all over the place filling every other role that would be one thing, but that’s just not the case because, to be frank, people don’t want them in productions, so I think there is a real argument to be made that at the very least when a character comes up that features their… ‘thing’, if at all possible it would be great to have them in the role.

If they auditioned 100 trans actors alongside Eddie Redmayne and decided he was the very best that would be one thing, although that would make me wonder in itself. If however as I suspect they said ‘we’ve got this film, who can we get that’s up and coming and will get good press? Let’s try Eddie Redmayne.’ then that’s just lazy, poor casting however the end performance turned out.

I want to be entertained, not set some kind of mind warping experience I have to work at.
Actors act & entertain, period.
When I read a book the characters take form in my mind - what I might “see” there might not match the person chosen to play the role on film. The same is true in reverse. I know what Churchill looked like historically so any actor playing him on film needs to resemble that image.
Some adjustments can be made, for instance, when 007 is played by different looking men because Bond is an image, not a person. Anne Boleyn, according to history, was not black. I can’t help but think that she was cast as a political, rather than an artistic choice.
This theme seems to influence the entertainment industry today, particularly adverts which you would expect to reflect the demographic of the UK. Fortunately there are suddenly plenty of ethnic minority, mixed race families, disabled, gay & LGBT actors to represent the nation.
It is not a racist thing, quite the reverse, but I will notice things, like the colour of someone’s skin (or T-shirt, or shoes) & I can’t help thinking that it is a little patronising.


When I have interviewed people for jobs, I dont care or want to know what they get up to behind closed doors let alone their bedrooms, I want to know they can perform the task.


This is entertainment industry we’re talking about here. You know, the people currently publicly mourning a child rapist shot dead when he attacked a minor during a riot.

Don’t expect logic anytime soon.

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In what sense is it ‘mind warping’ to watch a black actor play Anne Boleyn? Would you otherwise believe you were watching real events taking place in the 16th century? How would you cope if they went for real historical verisimilitude and spoke all the dialogue in pre-Shakespearean heavily-accented English? You would certainly have to ‘work at’ that!

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Absolutely Idris Elba could play James Bond as James Bond is a fictional character. He would probably do a pretty good job as well. As for John Hurt, he definitely couldn’t play Nelson Mandela, mainly because he died in 2017. Sad loss as he was a great actor. I remember him best as Quentin Crisp in the Naked Civil Servant.

Edit: I see that @billybutcher got there before me re John Hurts demise.

When the actor is a bloke and the king is a woman.

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But why? As Sue pointed out earlier, Shakespeare is full of ‘cross-dressing and gender-bending’ (more so when you consider the women characters passing themselves off as men were ‘really’ men anyway!). When he does it, it’s great art; when our contemporaries do it, it must be ‘politics’!

James Bond in a wheelchair? Why not? (Great scope for new gadgets…)
An autistic Sherlock Holmes? (Oh, hang on…)

Because as I didnt study Shakespeare at school, I am watching for the first time, working out the plot, unraveling the iambic pentameter, and then the added complication of is that actor playing a women or are they dressed as a women for a disguise?

For those who have seen Shakespeare and know the plot and the lines and dont mind watching the “experiments” fine enjoy but for a novice like me, given the choice of 2 theatres showing Midsummer nights dream, I would pick the more authentic one.
This was an actual occurrence. Two London theatres a mile apart 2 versions, saw 20 minutes of the “experiment” watched the whole show of the less adulterated one. The comments by the theatre critic in the Telegraph echoed the same sentiment. “What makes a modern director believe they can write better than Shakespeare”

Possibly it’s because films and plays have stopped being about imagination and ‘acting’ and have become about creating a presentation of reality instead. At present the trend is to present very literally.

In the case of re-imagining Shakespeare, it may also be that the gender-bending worked in a particular direction, and to do the reverse may make a lot of people struggle with it - as with many things, you may need to be on the inside to appreciate the joke. Not necessarily a problem for someone like you, but could be difficult for many.

Thinking about the James Bond theme in this context, I want JB to be exactly who he has been presented as for the last 50 odd years - a white male mysogynist ex RN commander. While some might find it refreshing to see the character played differently, to me it would be a failure. It doesn’t make stage or cinema better to simply swap out actors for actresses - they need their own settings.


Don’t forget Mata Hari :wink:

You have reminded me of the one atypical Bond film with David Niven as Bond (Casino Royale). Except the name then was Mata Bond. :wink:

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I feed you the line, you take the praise☺

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But it is not presented as an equal opportunities problem, but one of principle. There are certain characteristics, disabilities, sexualities which must be protected from being played by someone who doesn’t have them.

And would an unknown actor have had the same “draw” as Eddie Redmayne, or would the film not have been made or have been seen less?

Except that men playing men and women playing women is not actually ‘authentic’! Similarly, Mark wants ‘authenticity’ in terms of skin colour, but not (I guess) in language.

But I agree with you that presenting different versions, some experimental and some more conventional, is not necessarily a bad thing (though I also think the conventional often tends to pastiche) - what I don’t agree with is the politicisation of the difference…

This I think points towards one of the real problem areas here. The political right are so exercised about their imagined ‘culture war’ - which is of course really about nothing more than their own fear - that they have managed to politicise the choice of a black actor, while other departures from historical accuracy are glossed over.

The Telegraph critic’s comment is a typical distortion, by the way. Shaw indeed thought he could write better then Shakespeare, but I doubt if any modern director thinks that. What they might well do, though, is think beyond the capacity of anybody that chooses to work for The Telegraph - that getting to the truth as Shakespeare really saw it might actually be done more successfully without the mechanical reproduction of every word he wrote.

You get your entertainment one way, I get mine another.
Just because Shakespear banged out a few plays using medieval english does not make them the benchmark of good entertainment by which all others must be judged.
I watched a performance of Midsummer night’s dream a couple of years ago in VO & did not enjoy it at all - no car chases, no space ships, no terrorist plots, far too light on the action front AND no subtitles!
As for the colour or gender of fictional characters, what difference does that make? It is only when factual events or characters need to be depicted that accuracy needs to be addressed. Somehow a film about Amelia Earhart’s flight using a Learjet 35 instead of a Lockheed Electra would not be the same, requiring far too much suspension of reality!