Hilary Swank has suggested that a real trans actor would be “a lot more right” for her Oscar-winning role in Boys Don’t Cry.
Swank portrayed the murdered trans man Brandon Teena in the 1999 film, and lived as a man for a month while preparing for the role.
She has now said that she hopes trans actors would have the opportunity to play the role if the film were made today, and claimed that casting trans actors was harder to do in 1999.
“Trans people weren’t really walking around in the world saying, ‘Hey, I’m trans,’” Swank told Variety. “21 years later, not only are trans people having their lives and living, thankfully, we still have a long way to go in their safety and their inclusivity.
“We now have a bunch of trans actors who would obviously be a lot more right for the role and have the opportunity to actually audition for the role.”
Director Kimberly Peirce auditioned at least a hundred cisgender women for the Brandon Teena role, while Drew Barrymore was initially approached to play the part.
In interviews at the time, Peirce said that Swank embodied “someone who not only blurred the gender lines, but who was this beautiful, androgynous person with this cowboy hat and a sock in her pants, who smiled and loved being Brandon”.
Cisgender actors playing trans roles has come under greater criticism in recent years.
In 2015, Eddie Redmayne defended his casting as a trans woman in The Danish Girl, saying: “At the core of the issue is there is little opportunity for trans people and there is a huge job discrimination. What’s complicated to me, from an actor’s point of view, is that I feel like everyone should be able to play everything.”
Like Swank, Redmayne also won an Oscar for the performance.
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