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04/11/2018 09:46 am ET

The Trailer For Matt Bomer's Controversial Transgender Movie Is Here

"Anything" has taken pre-release heat over Bomer's casting.

Moviegoers nationwide got their first look at “Anything,” a controversial drama starring Matt Bomer as a transgender woman, with the debut of the film’s trailer this week. 

Based on Timothy McNeil’s play of the same name, “Anything” follows widower Early (played by John Carroll Lynch), who moves from Mississippi to Los Angeles after the death of his wife. As Early begins to settle into his new city, he strikes up an unlikely relationship with Freda (Bomer), a trans sex worker who lives next door. (Catch the full trailer above.) 

“Anything” earned respectable reviews when it debuted at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it a “touching, tentative love story.” However, the movie has been the source of heavy controversy since Bomer was announced to star in 2016. 

Among those to express their distaste over the decision to hire a cisgender male actor to portray a trans character was actress Jen Richards, who tweeted that she’d auditioned for the role of Freda: 

and “Sense8” star Jamie Clayton:

Both Clayton and Richards identify as transgender in real life. 

The performers certainly had a point. Two recent Hollywood hits ― 2013’s “The Dallas Buyers Club” and 2015’s “The Danish Girl”― have featured transgender storylines, with trans characters portrayed by cisgender actors Jared Leto and Eddie Redmayne, respectively. 

Mark Ruffalo, who starred opposite Bomer in “The Normal Heart” and is an executive producer of “Anything,” said he understood the trans community’s concerns after the controversy arose. 

Ruffalo nonetheless defended Bomer’s casting, saying the “White Collar” star “poured his heart and soul into this part.” 

The debate will likely resume as the film’s release date gets closer. However, associate producer Kylene K. Steele, who identifies as trans, is encouraging viewers to approach “Anything” with “an open heart and an open mind.”

“Matt did an amazing job, and he’s a phenomenal actor,” Steele told IndieWire. Acknowledging she was “really upset” by the criticisms in advance of the movie’s release, she added: “You shouldn’t be judged by who the person’s gender is, if they can pretend and be the person that’s fit for the role, then that’s the way it should be.”

Ultimately, Steele said she hopes the message of “Anything” will resound beyond viewers who identify as LGBTQ. 

“It’s about being human. It’s not about being trans, it’s not about being straight, it’s not about being gay,” she said. “I think if people come to the film, they’ll see it is just love, it is compassion, I hope they see it’s a human thing, seeing beauty in everything, [and] what love can do.”

“Anything” hits theaters in New York and Los Angeles on May 11. 

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