Like Stanley/Sabrina, the pre-op male-to-female transsexual Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman portrays in Duncan Tucker's comedic drama Transamerica, there is more to the movie than meets the eye. What first seems like it will be a gimmicky road picture cast in the mold of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert turns into a surprisingly accessible quest for acceptance, not just by others, but by ourselves, too. Huffman (who was nominated for Golden Globes for both the film and Desperate Housewives this week) pulls off more than just a Victor/Victoria, going far deeper than the woeful "I was born with the wrong parts" routine. In the end, after Tucker ramps down his emphasis on Bree's peculiar circumstances, which helps courageous trouper Huffman to better humanize her, Bree's struggle becomes a universal one.
Transamerica is Tucker's first feature, and he took the time to share his enthusiasm for it and his super star with Cinematical:
Here's a 'chicken or the egg' question - did you write the role of Stanley/Bree for Felicity Huffman or did your casting director just luck out?
I wrote the role with a short list of actresses in mind and Felicity at the top of it. I had seen her off-Broadway about ten years ago in David Mamet's The Cryptogram [for which she won an Obie], and she was so compellingly intelligent with this intense immediacy. After seeing her in Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner and on Sports Night, I thought, "Why isn't this woman a star like Frances McDormand or Meryl Streep?" I had a gut feeling that she was the exact kind of transformative actress I needed, and I was right. Felicity disappeared into the character, something that takes a rare breed. In terms of Desperate Housewives, we really lucked out, though the show presented a challenge. When we hired Felicity, she said, "I have this TV pilot to shoot in 14 weeks," so I called the producers and after a frantic meeting, we agreed that we could pull it off if we started pre-production that very day. I didn't sleep much, but we did it.