One of the most promising actors of her generation, Alicia Vikander has been a talent to watch in cinema in 2015, gaining international recognition, one film after another. After receiving acting prizes from several critics groups for her breakout role in “Ex Machina,” Vikander starts 2016 in style – copping her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her poignant performance in Universal Pictures’ controversial drama, “The Danish Girl.”
The film is the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, portrayed respectively by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) and Alicia Vikander, directed by Academy Award winner Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech,” “Les Misérables”).
In 1926 in Copenhagen, artist Einar Wegener is married to Gerda Wegener and is revered for landscape paintings. Gerda is also an artist, less renowned but steadily working as a portraitist of prominent citizens. Theirs is a strong and loving marriage, yet personal and professional epiphanies have eluded them both.
That all begins to change one day when, on deadline for a portrait, Gerda asks her husband to fill in for a model by putting on a dress so that she can finish the painting. The experience is transformative, as Einar soon realizes that being Lili is an expression of her truest self, and she begins living her life as a woman. Gerda unexpectedly finds that she has a new muse, and renewed creative ferment. But the couple soon brush up against society’s disapproval.
Vikander walked the fine line between the real Gerda and the version of Gerda in the novel on which the movie is based. “Both myself and Eddie — and everyone involved — really took on a good job trying to adapt the book,” assures the actress. “But then to be able to go back and actually dig in, to try to find as much information about these two people, that was the real treasure for us. I love the art and all the photographs that we found. It was a direct axis to see those very ahead-of-their-time women that both Lili and Gerda were.
“We tried to read as much as we could,” adds Vikander, “but because it’s a hundred years back, you realize that there’s quite a lot of ambiguity in some of the information. We don’t have any record of people who knew them, but you can meet people who’ve gone through a similar thing in life.”
Vikander continues, “We got an enormous help from wonderfully generous people from the transgender community. Maybe more from me playing Gerda, I was introduced to people who wanted to open up with their personal stories and experiences from friends or loved ones or family members or someone who has gone through this. That was very much an eye-opener for me. Even though all those stories are all very different journeys and experiences, I felt like they all wanted to share with me that feeling of — like Gerda — wanting to be support for the person that you love more than anything. They were happy to see that Gerda was involved in this film and this story because sometimes it’s tough — people forgot that they were in a transition as much as their loved one.
As much as “The Danish Girl” is a serious movie, there is such a fun rapport between Vikander and Redmayne. “Eddie is down-to-earth, funny, and always honest,” narrates the actress. “Even though we work long hours and it is a very tough subject and it’s a lot of very emotional big scenes, he always brings such energy to set and such humor. He just always pushed me to do my very, very best. I always felt like I had to step up and give him that. But he’s extremely generous, and we had a lot of fun.”
“The Danish Girl” is vying for four Academy Awards, namely Best Actor (Redmayne), Best Supporting Actress, Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.
At the recently-concluded Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Original Score.
To be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Glorietta 4, TriNoma, Market Market & Fairview Terraces) starting Feb. 03, “The Danish Girl” is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.