Sevigny’s Killer Role

Posted by – March 5, 2012

So there’s a new series with a trans woman as killer heroine.

Expected criticisms?

  • they should have found a trans woman to play her
  • ugh, trans as killer is way overdone and so 80s

amongst others.

That said, to me it looks like she’s portrayed sympathetically, not demonized, which would be a vast improvement. Second, she looks like she could be a really interesting character.

Chloe Sevingy, who is playing her, said in a recent interview in Interview:


Well, my character is mostly still a man beause she’s pre-op. But I concentrated on what makes someone an angry person or an evil person. She’s a killer. She kills for money, so she’s crossed over into that realm of a bad person. She’s a sociopath. She kills and harms and brings violence into the home without remorse — without batting an eye.

She is [a hired assassin]. But she has a family. She’s looking after a bunch of children, so she has the kids in the car, pops out, strangles a guy, and then comes back to the car and says, ‘You guys wanna go get some fish-and-chips?’ [laughs] It’s very businesslike, very cold. I talked with the directors about her growing up in violence. She’s self-abusive. She hits herself… She’s one of those. I think she finds comfort in it because she was beaten as a child.

[…] the woman who my character had a child with had other children. So [Mia] inherits this whole family. My character has all of these maternal and paternal feelings for her child. It really changes things. She’s been very cut off from the world, isolating herself in this apartment, so she begins to open up.

All of which is problematic – what portrayal of trans people isn’t? – BUT there is potential that the anger she lives in could connect audiences to her, that is, make her a sympathetic character, in a way we’ve never seen before. Honestly, I love the idea of a humanistic portrayal of the entirely fucking justified anger of (some) trans women.

She also said – here comes the ugh part:

We had a lot of meetings about movement and I tried to slim down. I tried to lose a lot of weight because I thought it would make me look more masculine if I were gaunt. I had to do a lot of nudity as well, so I figured if I were less curvy, that would help. I was working out a lot because my character does a lot of physical stuff as an assassin. When I got to Manchester, where we were filming, I had rehearsals with the director and the writer. I wanted to play the role with this exaggerated feminine behavior that a lot of transgender male-to-females have. It’s like a learned femininity. It’s very girly. But they didn’t want that. I thought, Well, how are you going to know? How can we remind the audience who I am? So on the show there are a lot of quick glimpses of me naked, wearing a prosthetic penis, which was horrifying. But I tried to get some of my own ideas in there. We did all of these different walks. I literally spent hours just sitting and moving my hands and walking to prepare.

But again, the director and the writer shot down her doing a girly, learned femininity, which is a revelation!

Honestly, wearing a prosthetic penis is horrifying. Obviously she’s not doing it right.

And finally, from a different interview:

I feel this will be my most feminine, most glamorous role to date. I hope that I have enough gay stripes that I won’t get totally attacked. It was the creators’ idea not to hire a boy to play the part, and of course as an actor you’re going to jump on that. I’m going to try to play it as beautiful and as feminine and as glamorous as I can — not like Transamerica.

Which is two huge sighs of relief: 1) the creators of the film didn’t want a male in the role (and it’s about goddamn time directors stopped even considering that a justifiable idea, um, note to Hollywood: TRANS WOMEN ARE NOT MEN) AND 2) she’s not doing the insulting parody of woman-ness like that Felicity Huffman piece of crap.

While doing some online research about this piece, I happened to find this unbelievably hot (imho, ymmv) hot photo of Ms. Sevingy.

(& My thanks to Suzi Morrison of our forums for the tip.)

2 Comments on Sevigny’s Killer Role

  1. milylasouris says:

    It’s frustrating how so many of the facepalm-worthy views of trans women could have been fixed by an honest discussion with a few real-life living-it-all trans women. Would it have been that hard for Ms. Sevigny or the production team to have done that instead of perpetuating the so common misconceptions? Sigh…

    Well, at least, as you say, they didn’t cast a man in the role (unlike the BBC who recently cast, of all people, Sean Bean in the role of a trans woman) and it seems the production team managed to tone down Ms. Sevigny’s plans for the over the top femininity. Maybe there’s hope!!!

    And, should you read this, Ms. Sevigny, try getting some trans stripes because they matter a lot more than gay stripes when portraying trans people!

  2. annagranfors says:

    That the show will be on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky channel bothers me, but everything about Murdoch bothers me. That having been said, there has been some excellent television on Sky, especially since the UK (and thus, the BBC) has embraced austerity.

    But since the show’s creator is Paul Abbott, who’s one of UK television’s best (including the original State Of Play and Shameless), I’m very hopeful. Abbott did a comedy/drama pilot a few years back called Mrs In-Betweeny (yeah, I know–crap name) whose central character was a pre-op transwoman–it was quite well done and low on bad trans cliché.

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