Elle Fanning has played a huge range of movie roles since she started acting at the tender age of three years old, including a cursed princess in Maleficent, a teenage girl in the 1960s Cuban missile crisis and the daughter of a man who buys a zoo. Just check out her IMDB for the full list - it’s pretty impressive.
But it’s her latest role as a female to male transgender teen that has people talking, and we can see why. Elle looks unrecognisable as Ray in the recently released trailer for the upcoming flick, dressed in baggy hoodies, striped beanies and a messy brunette crop – Elle’s famous blonde locks were chopped and died brunette in preparation for the role, but we suspect that buzz-cut might be a wig. Check out the transformation for yourself in the trailer, above, and this on-set image.
Previously titled Three Generations, About Ray follows female Ramona as she transitions into male Ray, working on building muscle, masculine hormones and confidence to start school in his rightful body. But first, Ray has to convince his biological father, who he hasn’t seen since he was a baby, to sign a parental consent form for the life-changing surgery. Tate Donovan plays Ray’s absent father, alongside Naomi Watts as the understanding mother and Susan Sarandon as Ray’s lesbian grandmother.
The film might not be released until September 18th, but whispers are already circulating that Elle could bag her first Oscar with this role. Not all press has been 100% positive, though. While it’s amazing to finally see LGBT stories portrayed on the big screen, some people have called out the film for not casting a transgender actor in the role. Jared Leto, who played transgender Rayon in The Dallas Buyer’s Club and won an Oscar for the part, faced similar backlash. Eddie Redmayne has also just finished filming The Danish Girl, where he plays transgender pioneer Lili (out later this year).
It’s fair to see where the criticism comes from; with actresses like Laverne Cox from Orange Is The New Black breaking out into mainstream success worldwide, there’s clearly no lack of talented transgender actors. What with Caitlyn Jenner igniting conversation around transgender issues, is it time the film industry caught up? Either way, About Ray looks set to be a must-see – catch it in cinemas from September 18th.