"I'm not sure I've really processed it, to be honest," said Eddie Redmayne of the past year — during which he got married, won the best actor Oscar for The Theory of Everything and made his third film with Tom Hooper, The Danish Girl — as we sat down at the Toronto Film Festival on Monday to tape the second episode of Awards Chatter (which you can play below or download on iTunes).
The Danish Girl, in which the 33-year-old Brit plays a transgender woman in 1920s Copenhagen, had its North American premiere here on Saturday night, and a major topic of discussion, as soon as a prolonged ovation died down, was whether or not Redmayne could become the first actor since Tom Hanks in the 1990s to win back-to-back best actor Oscars. I, for one, think that's very possible. But regardless, Redmayne has made it abundantly clear that he is no one-hit wonder, but rather one of the most special actors of his generation.
Over the course of a half-hour conversation, Redmayne and I discuss last Oscar season and its thrilling finish. "The pressure sort of ratchets up as you go from being an actor and a performer to being someone who is out there trying to get people to go and see the film," he acknowledges.
He explains that a fascination with The Danish Girl script, but also a desire to return to a surrogate family of sorts, motivated him to sign up for another film with Hooper, who previously had directed him in the 2005 TV miniseries Elizabeth I and the 2012 movie Les Miserables.
He reveals how he prepared for Danish Girl while simultaneously promoting Theory — including meeting with members of the trans communities in all of the major cities he visited for Theory-related activities — and how he grew to understand and empathize with their plight. ("What was astounding was how little progress there has been," he says — although he feels optimistic that recent developments, such as the recent decision of Caitlyn Jenner to share her story, may change that.)
And he dissects how his Danish Girl co-star Alicia Vikander stacks up next to the many other fine actresses with whom he has worked, including Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway and Felicity Jones, all of whom earned Oscar noms for their performances opposite him. (Hathaway won.)
The Danish Girl, a Focus Features film, will be released in the U.S. on Nov. 27. Awards voters are being asked to consider the film for best picture and Redmayne for best actor.