Eddie Redmayne has defended his role as a “queer” character in Cabaret, insisting that “the interpretation will justify the casting”.
The actor’s comments came ahead of his return to the West End for the first time in a decade for a revival of the classic musical, which recreates the Weimar-era Kit Kat Club.
Redmayne has been cast as Emcee in Cabaret opposite Jessie Buckley as Sally Bowles – a role immortalised by Liza Minnelli in the 1972 film – in a performance that will run at London’s Playhouse theatre from next month.
However, criticism has been levelled at his casting as Emcee, a character that has historically been portrayed as homosexual or bisexual. Redmayne married his childhood friend, Hannah Bagshawe, in 2014. The couple share two children.
In an interview with British Vogue, the award-winning actor responded to the concern, saying: “I hope when people see the performance, the interpretation will justify the casting.
“The way I see the character is as Mercury, as shape-shifting and a survivor.”
Debate on who should play LGBT+ characters
This is not the first time that Redmayne’s casting has prompted criticism from the LGBT+ community.
His portrayal of transgender pioneer, Lili Elbe, in the 2015 film The Danish Girl sparked a backlash from the transgender community, despite garnering critical acclaim.
At the time, he revealed how much he learned about gender and sexuality while preparing for the role.
“People were so kind and generous with their experience, but also so open,” he told Out magazine.
“Virtually all of the trans men and women I met would say: ‘Ask me anything.’ They know that need for cisgender people to be educated.
“I felt like, I’m being given this extraordinary experience of being able to play this woman, but with that comes this responsibility of not only educating myself but hopefully using that to educate [the audience]. Gosh it’s delicate, and complicated.”
His comments come amid an ongoing debate in the worlds of arts and theatre on whether LGBT+, disabled and religious actors should be the only ones to play LGBT+, disabled and religious characters.
The Succession actor, Brian Cox, recently criticised this trend, saying that authentic casting – where roles are reserved for actors with the same lived experiences as a character – ignores the “craft of acting”.