Those who refuse gender, I find utterly irresistable. *hawt* even.
It doesn’t help that Billy Crudup is a stunning creature, regardless. . .
Overnight, Ned Kynaston became a freak – like silent film stars who, with the advent of sound, were suddenly bad actors. They hadn’t changed, but the medium had changed. For years, Kynaston was lauded by the press and adored by his fans; but within a couple of weeks, he was this monster freak, and people were writing nasty poems about him: “Grown so large and incompliant, call Desdemona, enter Giant”. These were the same people who two days earlier were saying he was a great actor. He wasn’t doing anything differently to the way he’d always done it, but now the audience had a comparison. He came up short for all the obvious reasons and he must have been completely stunned by the whole affair.”
“Ned has gathered a lot of self-esteem and fame – he’s become a glutton for fame – based on cultivating an identity that he doesn’t really know to be his own,” says Billy Crudup. “It’s just something that he’s good at. I think that happens to a lot of people – they end doing something that they’re good at and they turn it into their passion because they’re addicted to feeling loved by people. I guess that’s fair enough, but it ends up distancing people from themselves. In order for Ned to be able to love someone and communicate those feelings, he has to be able to identify who he is.
Director Eyre adds, “We are obsessed with who actors are – i.e. are they the character they are playing, are they really feeling and doing the things that they are feeling and doing on screen? Isn’t it possible that actors are as confused about who they are as anyone else?”
“The fact that Kynaston played Desdemona at one part of his life and Othello at another suggests a transformation,” says Hatcher. “I can imagine someone fictionalizing his story and having him commit murder before committing suicide because he was a woman and can’t go on as a man. I can see someone taking different, more melodramatic liberties with the facts of Kynaston’s life. But I liked the idea that he transforms, that he changes and survives. To me, it’s infinitely more interesting to write a tale about survival through transformation than to write about someone who feels his life is over because they changed the rules.” “Ned’s quite difficult to love on a personal level because he’s so self-involved and emotionally alienated from other people,” says Claire Danes. “He’s very defensive and sharp-tongued, but Maria manages to see through all that. One of the things I loved about the script is its ambiguity, its resistance to putting a tight little bow around all of these big feelings and concepts. I think that Maria makes more out of Ned, but I don’t know if she necessarily makes more of a man out of him. Through her love, she encourages him to be more honest with himself; and at the end of the film, we see that he’s beginning that process. That’s genderless, really. It asks the audience to resolve the question for themselves.” “Although it is set hundreds of years ago and addresses very complex issues of identity, in the end, I hope audiences are moved by the film because it’s about a relationship between two people who love each other,” says Richard Eyre. Kynaston had the good turn to appear in three shapes…as a poor woman in ordinary clothes to please Morose; then in fine clothes as a gallant, and in them was clearly the prettiest woman in the whole house – and lastly, as a man; and then likewise did appear the handsomest man in the house.
The Diary of Samuel Pepys, 7 January 1661
… and thence to the Theatre, where I saw again ‘The Lost Lady’ which do now please me better than before; and here I sitting behind in a dark place, a lady spit backward upon me by mistake, not seeing me but after seeing her to be a very pretty lady, I was not troubled at all.