Eight weeks of great films, thought provoking stories on the big screen, and engaging dialogue with top movie talent. Don’t miss the most anticipated new films of the season prior to their theatrical release. Recently screened films and talent included: "Sicario" with Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro, "Concussion" with Will Smith, and "Brooklyn" with Saoirse Ronan. Current Film Schedule coming soon!
'Eye in the Sky' stars Academy Award winner Helen Mirren as Colonel Katherine Powell, a UK-based military officer in command of a top secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya. The cast inlcudes the late Alan Rickman, Barkhad Abdi, Jeremy Northam, Iain Glen and Phoebe Fox, the film is directed by Gavin Hood (TSOTSI) and written by Guy Hibbert ("Prime Suspect"). Producers are Ged Doherty, Colin Firth and David Lancaster.
Q & A immediately following the screening with director Gavin Hood and series host, Pete Hammond.
The winter session of KCET Cinema Series came to a close on December 15 with a special screening of "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?" The 1966 comedy takes place during World War II and follows a troupe of U.S. soldiers who march into an Italian village only to learn that the townspeople are willing to surrender if they can go ahead with an annual festival. The film was directed by Blake Edwards and stars James Coburn.
The evening's screening paid tribute to James Coburn, as the James and Paula Coburn Foundation is a presenting sponsor of the film series. The evening also recognized director Blake Edwards, who passed away on December 15, 2010. Members of the Edwards and Coburn families were present in the audience, as were board members of the James and Paula Coburn Foundation.
The James and Paula Coburn Foundation is dedicated to supporting art and science-based organizations, including KCET as well as LACMA, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and others. To learn more about the work of the foundation, check out their website.
Series host Pete Hammond opened the evening with an informative conversation about the film with actor and producer Ken Wales, who played PFC Blair in "What Did you Do in the War, Daddy?" See the interview below with Pete and Ken.
KCET Cinema Series returns to ArcLight Cinemas in Sherman Oaks on February 23 and runs every Tuesday through April 12. The Cinema Series brings high quality films before to the screening audience prior to their release and frequently includes question-and-answer sessions conducted by host and Deadline columnist Pete Hammond. Tickets for the spring series go on sale through Evetbrite on January 5. KCET Cinema Series is sponsored by the E. Hofert Dailey Trust.
On why Blake Edwards' work resonated with people.
Ken Wales: He could put his finger on something that might resonate with an audience so well in so many different ways and doing it in comedy, pathos, all the different emotions, and what a joy it was. I owe everything that my creativity and my work to being tutored and nurtured, like a father, probably. I appreciate it so much.
In any event, all the things you see here were emotions and things that Blake experienced in life, pulling a lot of it out from the family, from Patty, his wife, from Geoffrey, from Jenny, all of the things were life experiences.
Blake was in the war, in the Coast Guard in World War II and we can't tell all of those stories, but some of them were so comedic and everything, he pulled bits and pieces and put them in everything. He was a master at that. He knew what would resonate with people in their heart.
On Blake Edwards' collaboration with writer William Peter Blatty.
Ken Wales: When Blake and Peter got together, the comedies were superb. They were hysterical. They almost couldn't finish the day's work, writing it, because they kept laughing, they'd get laughing so much and go on, but out of it came superb, excellent comedy. You look at the things that Blake has done, has created, and also the things that William Peter Blatty and you're seeing some very erudite -- erudite comedy. Special. Not gutter comedy. Not cheap . Not bad laughs. It was brilliant.. you really thought a moment and-- ah!-- that is clever and you laughed. We're going to see some of that, in wartime, tonight. It's amazing. Blake, of course, was in the Coast Guard... but he was so resonated with the other services and was able to pull out the comedy, and the human drama, of the world's worst condition at war, but we had to fight the wars or there would have been no peace to have the life or the creative freedom that we have now.
On James Coburn in "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?"
Ken Wales: Jim really held it all together without saying too much. Blake really relied upon him for that because with William Peter Blatty, the script, it kind of went all over the place, but Jim always managed to bring it back in and say, "What if I try?" Blake said, "That's it," and they were on the way. It didn't take long for him to zero in on exactly what that scene should be. There were would be things found in their kind of pre-rehearsal that weren't probably even on paper, but between the two of them, they just zip zip zip, a whole new depth, breadth and funniness to those particular scenes. But, funniness about the human comedy, not just slapstick. The insight that you will see in this film is deeper than you can imagine because it goes into pathos. It goes into romance. It goes into heartache, heartbreak, all of the things are a part of our lives.
And if we don't fight those wars, remember the guys that went off and did what they did, good gosh, we wouldn't be here today at all if those wars hadn't been fought and won so that evil could be put down to rise again and have another unit go to war. But, in the dramatic, we could tell the human comedy, what happens with guys off in the jungle trying to cook open a can of beans. I'm being silly, but all the crazy stuff like that, as well the profound, and Blake found the profound in the light of comedy.
On shooting "What Did you Do in the War, Daddy?"
We shot it out by pretty much Westlake Village. I think you can look for JC Penney, that was the first dug out. I could go on and name all the places. It was out there. If we had just bought the real estate that was offered at $2 an acre, we wouldn't have to be here tonight.
All Westlake with a few shots, stock shots, to make you think you were there.
I must also pay tribute to William Peter Blatty, a good friend, wonderful fellow. Knew him from USC. When I was a student at SC, he was head of public relations, in that department. Bill's sense of humor, his subtle sense of humor, really was a good match for Blake's excitement. The two of them together turned out some of the best comedy scenes, I think, you could ever see. What a great joy to see that happen.
On developing video assist with Blake Edwards.
Ken Wales: You have to remember as well, all of these scenes, Blake had not yet suggested to me and I began to invent with another fella, the video assist so we could have playback. That was come a couple years later. Blake and I worked on it for a long time, and an engineer, and we literally developed the first playback system that everybody in the industry uses, when, for the first time you could look at a television screen immediately to see what was going on in film correctly, framed just right and Panavision, the whole thing, not just an approximation. But, that kind of creative thinking was in the works because Blake came to me several times and said, if I could only play this back and see what we've done before we develop the film. That spurned me on to not do another film with Blake without having a video assist. By the next one, several of us engineers and Blake, together, we had invented the first video assist and now nobody makes a film without it.
On Tuesday night, KCET Cinema Series members got to check out a pre-release screening of the latest film from British screenwriter/director Andrew Haigh. "45 Years" is based on David Constantine's short story "In Another Country" and stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a couple whose marriage is tested in the days leading up to their 45th anniversary party. "45 Years" opens in theaters on December 23.
The film has already made a splash with critics, particularly for Rampling's portrayal of a wife who now questions her marriage and life. Rampling recently won a Best Actress award from L.A. Film Critics Association, as well as an award from the Boston Society of Film Critics.
KCET Cinema Series is sponsored by the E. Hofert Dailey Trust and James and Paula Coburn Foundation and gives attendees a chance to see acclaimed films before they open to the general public. The winter session of the series has featured screenings of "Spotlight," "Carol," "The Danish Girl" and other hotly anticipated films. Next week, the winter series closes with a James Coburn film, "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?"
For this screening of "45 Years," KCET Cinema Series host and Deadline columnist Pete Hammond sat down for a Q/A with Andrew Haigh, highlights of which appear in this article.
On Tuesday night, KCET Cinema Series members had the chance to see "The Lady in the Van" at ArcLight Sherman Oaks just days before it opens for a limited run in Los Angeles. A "mostly true" story, the movie is based on a play of the same title by Alan Bennett ("The Madness of King George") and explores his unusual friendship with a woman who lived in her van, parked in his driveway, for about 15 years. Alex Jennings plays Bennett and Maggie Smith plays the writer's unconventional neighbor, Miss Shepherd.
"I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival and I was kind of blown away by it," says Cinema Series host and Deadline columnist Pete Hammond. "It's funny. It's sad. It's real and the movie is' mostly true,' as they say in the beginning. It's just an unusual story and a little bit of a gem of the film."
When Hammond was at Toronto Film Festival, he heard director Nicholas Hytner talk about the film, how he knew about Miss Shepherd at the time. Bennett didn't write the play until after his neighbor's death. It was produced as a play in 1999, wherein Smith originated the role of Miss Shepherd. "It's sort of a story that has an ongoing life," says Hammond, "and I think the film version is beautifully done by then and I think it will do well."
While its central character is a woman who lives out of her vehicle, "The Lady in the Van" is not an issue-based film regarding homelessness. "I think it's saying, home is where you park your car," says Hammond. "I never looked at her as homeless. I thought that was her home...It's about an individual, but it shows that you got to take matters into your own hands sometimes. If society throws you a curve, or you throw yourself a curve, there's something that can be done. That's what she did."
Hammond himself says that he's impressed with the meatiness of Smith's role in the film. "It's unusual for actresses of any age over 50 to get full-blooded leading roles this good. I thought this was perfectly tuned to her," he says.
The winter installment of KCET Cinema Series has featured a number of compelling roles for actresses, from Saoirse Ronan's Eilis in "Brooklyn" to Cate Blanchett's Carol Aird and Rooney Mara's Therese Belivet in "Carol."
"This is an unusual year, in the actress race in particular. Usually, they are hard-pressed to find five to fill out the category and here, we have at least ten really good ones, good leading roles and for women of different ages," says Hammond.
He continues, "This is a return-of-the-veteran year, really, when you see not just Maggie Smith in "Lady in the Van"-- and I think she'll turn up with a Golden Globe nomination next week in the comedy category-- but she'll probably be competing against Lily Tomlin, who is 75, in "Grandma" and Blythe Danner, who is 72, in "I'll See You in My Dreams," and Charlotte Rampling, who is almost 70, in "45 Years, "which we're showing next week at the Cinema Series."
Sponsored by the E. Hofert Dailey Trust and the James and Paula Coburn Foundation, KCET Cinema Series screens films with critical buzz prior to their release dates. The winter session of the Cinema Series, which began in October and will run through mid-
December, is particularly popular as it precedes the industry's award season. Host Hammond selects films that he has seen and feels the audience will enjoy. Most screenings are accompanied by a Q/A and this season's guests have included Will Smith and Albert Brooks for "Concussion" as well as Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel for "Youth." Tuesday's screening of "The Lady in the Van" did not feature a Q/A.
There are two weeks left of this season's KCET Cinema Series. Next Tuesday's event will feature a screening of "45 Years," starring Charlotte Rampling. Hammond describes it as "a subtle, small movie about a marriage." The Cinema Series will conclude the following week with a revival screening of "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?" starring James Coburn, whose foundation sponsors the series, and directed by Blake Edwards. Hammond says, "If you haven't seen it, it's a new movie."
"I was looking for every reason not to make this film," Will Smith told the audience at Sherman Oaks Arclight Cinemas on November 24 for a KCET Cinema Series screening of "Concussion." Smith is a self-proclaimed "football dad" and, as he reminded the crowd, he's from Philadelphia, home of the Eagles. In "Concussion," which hits theaters on Christmas Day, Smith plays the doctor who goes up against the NFL when he discovers how badly football has damaged the brains of its beloved players.
Sponsored by E. Hofert Dailey Trust and the James and Paula Coburn Foundation, KCET Cinema Series brings high caliber films to members before their release. Hosted by Deadline columnist Pete Hammond, the Cinema Series includes insightful question-and-answer sessions with the films' creative teams after the screening.
Throughout the winter session of KCET Cinema Series, audiences have had the chance to see films about people who question and challenge the status quo, from the Boston Globe news team that reported on the local Catholic diocese child molestation scandal in "Spotlight" to transgender pioneer Lili Elbe in "The Danish Girl." Last week's selection, "Concussion," follows suit.
"Concussion" is the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a brilliant forensic pathologist working in Pittsburgh whose career and life are changed when he is assigned to do the autopsy of former Steeler Mike Webster. Omalu realizes that there's more to Webster's death than what's on the surface and launches his own investigation to figure out how the football star died. Through this, Omalu stumbles upon a health crisis in the football world, one that will make him an enemy of the NFL and, possibly, those who love football more than life.
Omalu, who now lives in Lodi, CA and is the chief medical examiner for San Joaquin County, as well as a professor at UC Davis, was on hand with the "Concussion" team for this interview helmed by Hammond.
Also on hand for the panel were screenwriter/director Peter Landesman and actors Albert Brooks and David Morse. Brooks plays Dr. Cyril Wecht, Omalu's boss and mentor at the time of the Webster examination. Morse plays Webster.
Smith traveled to Lodi to spend time with Omalu on the job and to meet his family, an experience he calls a "fantastic honor." He says that, in the end, his performance in the film focused on "what it means to be American." Omalu himself is from Nigeria and became a U.S. citizen earlier this year.
Smith adds that "there are so many aspects of this film that are current."
Director/screenwriter Peter Landesman, who is also an award-winning journalist, adds that the "epidemic of football players" succumbing to the long-term effects of brain traumas "was all around us." Even after Omalu came forth with his findings, the science was hard for some to stomach. "Concussion," based on a GQ article by journalist Jeanne Marie Laskas, delves into the opposition and harassment Omalu faced when he exposed the dangers of football.
A 2015 British drama adapted by Alan Bennett from his 1999 hit West End play of the same name. It is directed by Nicholas Hytner, who directed the original production at the Queen's Theatre in London. Starring Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings, it tells the true story about an elderly woman called Mary Shepherd who lived in a battered van on Bennett's driveway for 15 years. The film was screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Smith has played Shepherd twice before, in the original 1999 theatrical production, which scored her a Best Actress nomination at the 2000 Olivier Awards, and in a 2009 Radio 4 adaptation.
Presented by Sony Pictures Classics
Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Rated PG-13 / 104 minutes
A film that will change the way Americans consider the game of football.
"At the center of this film is a man who was delivered a truth about a game that he had no connection to, but he had to deliver painful information to a group of people that he had a deep desire to be accepted by," says Will Smith who stars in the film "Concussion" as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the initial doctor who discovered the connection between football and serious neurological issues created by repetitive head trauma.
For writer director Peter Landesman, the film is about much more than football. "Professional football is more than a sport. More than a business. It is a cultural and national institution. Football is how we spend our Sundays in the fall and winter. The Super Bowl is watched by a billion people. Much is at stake -- culturally, socially, and economically. And like any gigantic business, there are powerful interests invested in keeping it going, no matter the cost. When Dr. Omalu made a discovery that threatened not just business as usual, but the very fabric of the game -- the hits, the violence -- those interests went into high gear. When Dr. Omalu was focused only on the truth, and the spirit of the dead, and was determined to make the facts known. I hope this film does this too. The stakes couldn't be higher."
The film will be released in theatres nationwide on December 25, 2015.
Presented by Sony Pictures
Directed by Peter Landesman
Rated PG-13 / 123 minutes
Long before transgender issues entered the mainstream consciousness, Lili Elbe received one of the first gender reassignment surgeries in Europe. Her story is the basis for "The Danish Girl," which hits theaters on November 26.
"The Danish Girl" stars Eddie Redmayne as Elbe and takes viewers back into Copenhagen, where Elbe was living as an artist named Einar Wagener with artist wife Gerda, played by Alicia Vikander. When Einar begins to model for Gerda as a woman, Lili gradually begins to reveal herself and the couple's relationship evolves.
KCET Cinema Series members had the chance to see "The Danish Girl" on Tuesday, November 17. Joining host Pete Hammond for the post-screening Q/A session were director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech," "Les Miserables"), screenwriter Lucinda Coxon ("Crimson Peak") and producers Gail Mutrux and Anne Harrison. Below is an edited version of their conversation.
The KCET Cinema Series is sponsored by the E. Hofert Dailey Trust and the James and Paula Coburn Foundation. The winter series features nine films screened weekly at the ArcLight Cinemas in Sherman Oaks. In previous weeks, members enjoyed special guests Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel after a screening of "Youth," director John Crowley and actress Saoirse Ronan for "Brooklyn" and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy for the most anticipated film of the season, "Carol."
On making "The Danish Girl."
Tom Hooper: The only reason I'm here under this incredibly large screen, which feels like the largest screen that I've ever played "The Danish Girl" on, is because of the script written by the woman on my left, Lucinda Coxon. I was lucky enough to read it, late 2008. I was in early pre-production on "The King's Speech," and, without doubt, it's the best script I've ever read. I found it incredibly moving. It moved me to tears on a couple of occasions. I hoped that one day, I would get the chance to make it as a movie, but a seven year involvement with this film makes me a bit of a newbie, because my wonderful producer, Gail Mutrux, fell in love with it 15 years ago. Fellow producer Anne Harrison fell in love with it 12, 10 years ago, so it's a real passion project for all of us.
Lucinda Coxon: I'm really, I'm either a kind of a psychic, but lazy, or the world's worst opportunist. Eleven years ago, I thought, "hey, here's this really neat thing, I'll write a script now and I'll be able to jump on the transgender bandwagon in a decade." I think when I first read David Ebershoff fabulous novel, I didn't know anything about this story...When I researched it, there was relatively little research material about it and there weren't very many people very interested in it. As we discovered, as we tried to get the film financed, there weren't very many people very interested in the transgender debate at all and people were very nervous about it.
Of course, I had made the classic mistake of falling in love with it and therefore assuming that everyone would fall in love with it and thinking, well, this is just going to finance itself because it's just so great and who could resist this extraordinary story.
I think it's been really serendipitous that the film wasn't made sooner, as it turns out. That's not just being philosophical in retrospect, I think that this is the perfect moment and it's fantastic to be part of this rising tide.
Gail Mutrux: I think we were very lucky because it wasn't sort of nobody. There were pieces that would come together and then fall apart. It got pretty close a few times, but it wasn't until Tom seriously wanted to do it that we felt that it was going to get made. It was exciting.
Tom Hooper: I fell in love with the love story at the spine and the way that Lucinda wrote the script. It's very much a portrait of a marriage going through a profound change. I think at one level, anyone who has been in a long relationship or a long marriage, partners can change over time. You can start married to someone who's a very different person by the end of it. It certainly is true of my parents' marriage.
It's interesting because I fell in love with this around the same time as "The King's Speech." Both projects come from the same moment in time, even though one's taken longer to make. I think for me, there's a very powerful universal theme linking both, which is that all of us have blocks between us and the best version of ourselves, or the true version of ourselves, whether that's shyness insecurity. Whether it's anxiety or addiction or depression. Whether it's stammering, like in "The King's Speech," Bertie in "The King's Speech." But, to not identify with the gender you're assigned at birth, I can't imagine a more profound block a human being can experience, between them and their true identity. It's surely a cause of such distress to the individual involved, but in this story, in the 1920s when there was no road map for transition, when the word transgender didn't exist, when the medical establishment pathologized such a sense of self as a disease. How could this change happen?
I think what led me to this story is that what allowed transformation to happen was the space opened up by love. The love at the center of the film, I think, allows this transformation to happen. The story, Lucinda's wonderful script, the real lives these artists led teaches us that if you are blocked in any way, if you are truly loved, if you are truly seen, you have the best chance of transforming yourself.
On why Lili Elbe's story matters today.
Lucinda Coxon: I think, as we were saying, one of the things that's really important to me is the universality of the story. Certainly, the true histories of these two people were swept away by the turbulence of 20th Century history. For example, Lili Elbe's medical records were few and far between because they were kept in a hospital in Dresden, which was destroyed by Allied bombing at the end of the second World War. So, in historical terms, that's partly why that story was swept away. It's also women's history and queer history, which is often swept away anyway. In terms of now, I suppose that one of the things that I found really powerful about the story is that it is, in a sense, really modern. This is someone who is self-actualizing to a kind of remarkable degree. These are people who are kind of curating their own live in a very modern way. But it's a self-actualization story that makes it very clear that doesn't happen in a vacuum because of all the people around you. The people around you are the catalysts. I think that's exactly what Tom's saying. It happens in a space that's created by love. I think Einar and Lili and Gerda, they were way ahead of it then and there's a lot to be learned from them in that respect.
On working with Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander.
Tom Hooper: I first worked with Eddie when he was 22, a young kid actor. I was directing "Elizabeth I" for HBO with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons. Eddie played a young rebel who tries to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Helen Mirren, never a good idea. Helen Mirren, the queen, sentenced him to his immediate death.
I remember to this day shooting that, the scene where Eddie receives the death sentence, and it was extraordinary because, as I was shooting it, I felt like I was watching someone being sentenced to death rather than watching an actor having a death sentence. There was something about his emotional rawness that was extraordinary. It was almost like an emotional translucency, he was shaking like a leaf. You could see into his heart so directly.
It's funny because English actors are often in dialog with their own emotional reserve. You could say that some of them are emotionally repressed. Not like English directors who have a very fluent contact with their emotional life, as you can tell tonight. This young English actor really stood out to me and, then and there, I thought, if I could ever cast him in a lead role, I will. The next opportunity was "Les Miserables." When I look back on it, his "Empty Chairs, Empty Tables" remains for me one of the highlights of that film, marked again by tremendous emotional rawness. It was on the barricades of "Les Miserable" where I slipped him Lucinda's wonderful script in an unmarked brown paper envelope, on the barricades of French Pinewood Studios. He came back the next morning and just said, look, if you ever get the chance to make it, I'd love to be involved.
And then Alicia Vikander. When you cast Eddie Redmayne, it was intimidating finding the actress to act opposite Eddie because Eddie is so formidable and I'd heard, Nina Gold, my wonderful casting director, suggested that I look at Alicia. I had seen her in "Anna Karenina." I had seen her in "A Royal Affair," where she's a Swedish actress playing a Danish princess. I sort of thought, I'm not going to take five years out to learn Danish before directing the movie in Danish, so casting a Scandinavian Swede who can play Danish and speaks English sounds like a good root for the purists.
She came in to audition. We did the scene, which has a great title in the script. It's called "Scene 56," memorable scene number and that's the scene where Lili and Gerda, Einar and Gerda, have an argument the morning after Einar kisses Henrik. Alicia was so moving in this scene that at end I had tears in my eyes. Eddie Redmayne turned around and said, "There's no great surprise about who you're going to cast now, Hooper." I was like, "No, no, I'm completely objective. I've got lots of notes. I can't think of what they are at the moment."
On gender issues in "The Danish Girl."
Tom Hooper: One could talk about gender fluidity in relation to Lili's character, but Gerda is a strong woman in the '20s saying, I have a right to be a professional artist. I have a right to be openly ambitious, driven, searching for my subject, all of which things are incredibly radical, let's not forget, for a woman in the 1920s. One is reminded, when watching this film, that for centuries, it was men who said to women, this is your gender role. The 20th century was part of this great moment when women started to repossess the definition of their own gender. So, the film to me is an exploration of gender fluidity through both characters.
On keeping smaller films alive.
Gail Mutrux: Two things, one audiences need to keep coming to the movies. In the last few months, you read about all these wonderful movies that have been released and people are staying at home. Part of it is that people put up the money. If they make "The Hunger Games," they know a lot of people are going to come. If they make, for instance, "Room," this small movie, they're not sure. It goes hand-in-hand. It's not about producer's persevering. It's about the people putting up the money for the movies. They're the ones that have to stay in the game.
Anne Harrison: We'll also find other outlets. I love to see a movie, and I hope everyone else here loves to see a movie in a theater, but there are other ways to distribute movies, for example through Netflix or other ways. There will be other ways to get our stories out, but I think it's really about story in the end.
Tom Hooper: I feel cause for optimism in the sense that, I think the studio system gets a lot of bad press all the time for not supporting a range of filmmaking. This is a studio film. This is Focus Features, Universal backed it. On the back of "Les Miserables," I had some box office success with that, I was able to turn to Universal and say, "Actually, this is is the passion project that I've always wanted to make. Will you support me?" They did. Although it's a European subject, effectively, it is a Hollywood movie. I take heart that is, in this case, would in turn embrace both the huge films-- I mean, Universal had an okay year-- but also this, which was made for less than $15 million in a very economic way and they supported it.
On the copies of Gerda Wegener's paintings seen in "The Danish Girl."
Lucinda Coxon: So the portraits that you see in the movie that Gerda did of Lili, we had an artist produce those paintings, you can see that Lili has been tweaked a little more like Eddie, but they are very, very fine copies of Gerda's paintings. Actually, there is a big new show of Gerda's art that just opened in Copenhagen, the biggest ever exhibition of her art, so I'm hoping that lots more people will be seeing those paintings in the future.
Tom Hooper: Lucinda makes it sound a little bit more straight forward than it was. It's actually quite a funny story because I had this kind of, I was very purist. I was like, we must use the original Gerda Wegener paintings. I will not accept anything else. Gail, get me the real paintings, please. About a month before the shoot, these two sat me down and said to me very gently, "You do know that the real Lili paintings, it's not Eddie Redmayne." It was one of those incredibly embarrassing moments where, yes, I'm a purist, but this is a bit of a problem. Rather at the last minitue, we set about recreating the Lili paintings, really trying to copy her paintings, but putting Eddie's Lili in them. They're similar, but not the same. We tried all kinds of short cuts at the time. We tried projecting photos of Eddie, effectively blowing up the Lili paintings over the top in black and white on the canvas and then projecting Eddie over them. In all of these shortcuts, none of the art was very good and it was only, ironically, when we got Suzie, our wonderful painter, to get Eddie to sit as Lili in the conventional way and we did the conventional thing of a portrait artist sitting with a live subject that the paintings actually took off. That's what you see.
On handling Lili's transition in "The Danish Girl."
Lucinda Coxon: I think one of the challenges, certainly in the writing writing is to write a role where you create enough space around Einar for Lili to emerge, to be revealed gradually through the course of the film. In the end, we understand that Lili was always there, really, from the beginning, that she was masked.I think all those kind of touches were laid in. I think when we see him watching Gerda applying her lipstick, it's partially because he loves his wife and admires her and admires her aesthetically, but there is also some deeper kind of identification that we later come to understand, so I think we're always trying to lay it in gently, but, on the other hand, be clear that it was always there.
Tom Hooper: First of all, this was in the script and Lucinda had marked it all out beautifully. I think Eddie and I had worked on this idea that it wasn't a role about transformation, it was a role about revealing or revelation and Eddie sort of prepping and working a year out. We did our first screen test seven months out and Eddie put a lot of preparation into it, but a lot of it was about unlocking his latent femininity, exploring it and then recovering it so that in the film it could be gradually revealed. One of the interesting things that Eddie and I learned from meeting trans women in the community was that sometimes people in transition go through a phase of kind of hyper-feminization, where, in order to reconnect with their female identity, they almost overreach. Their feminine body language become affected. Their clothes become very feminine. They use too much make-up, maybe too strong a wig. We embrace that as a way of Lili getting in touch with this part of her that had been suppressed. At the end of the movie, you'll notice that she goes back to her own hair. Her body language simplifies. Her clothes simplify and she really starts to have the confidence to be herself without trying too hard and without too much adornment.
On involving transgender actors and advisers in "The Danish Girl."
Tom Hooper: We had some great trans women who advised the film, going right back to an early, very inspiring meeting I had with Lana Wachowski, the Hollywood director. In terms of the casting, we had trans extras in London, in Copenhagen, in Brussels and there were two trans actors who played in the movie in small rolls, including a trans woman called Rebecca Root who was playing a cis gender role. We did reach out and try to involve the acting trans community as much as possible.