First image of Eddie Redmayne in transgender role

Oscar winner will play artist Lili Elbe in adaptation of The Danish Girl

Last week Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for his transformation into physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything and we’re all looking forward to his turn in Thomas the Tank Engine – but the first image of his new role shows a truly striking change.

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Adapting the novel by David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl is the true story of artist Lili Elbe (Redmayne) as she undergoes experimental sex reassignment surgery in 1930s Berlin.

Born as Einar Mogens Wegener, Elbe was a transgender pioneer, undergoing a series of surgical operations to transition to a woman. At the time the story was a sensation in the European press, and her official recognition as a woman is seen as a breakthrough in transgender rights. Elbe later died of complications after a transplanted uterus was rejected by her body.

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Alicia Vikander co-stars as Wegener’s wife Gerda and the film sees Redmayne reuniting with Tom Hooper, who formerly directed Les Miserables. The Danish Girl is slated for release next year.