keeping pace

Lee Pace on toxic masculinity and playing a trans woman in his first film role

Photo Credit: Getty Images

When Lee Pace does a cover story, we all win.

With a new profile in GQ Hype—the men’s magazine’s culture-focused digital weekly—Pace has gifted the internet with a fresh photoshoot that gives us permission to fawn over him once again (not that we needed an excuse).

The spread features the rugged actor in casual-cool chic, galavanting across his au naturel property in upstate New York where, yes, the man really did build his home from the ground up. Sheesh!

 

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Beyond the photos, the piece is an edifying peek into the mind of Lee Pace, one of our most beloved yet enigmatic stars. He touches on everything from that home he’s been building from scratch for the past decade, to his #CoupleGoals marriage to Thom Browne executive Matthew Foley, to his latest role in the horror-comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies.

Related: ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ stars talk chaotic queer energy, say Lee Pace smells as good as you’d think

But perhaps most fascinating is Pace’s reflection on his first feature film role, Soldier’s Girl, in which he played the transgender woman, Calpernia Addams.

A true story, Soldier’s Girl (directed by Dog Day Afternoon writer Frank Pierson) is about the relationship between Army Private Barry Winchell (Jane Fonda’s son, Troy Garity) and Addams, a dancer he meets at a nightclub while stationed outside Nashville. When word spreads among his fellow servicemen that Winchell is dating a trans woman, they resort to taunting, teasing, and much, much worse.

Of course, almost two decades later, the matter of Pace’s casting would be highly contested today. And while the actor politely declines the opportunity to discuss “the ongoing debate on actors and identities” with GQ, he does agree that the part would almost certainly go to a trans woman these days.

“Well, we did [have that discussion,]” Pace elaborates. “Some of the actresses that I worked with were trans. And Calpernia was there the whole time helping me with her story and her truth. She was extremely collaborative with us, the entire shoot. They probably would. I don’t know.”

Related: The true story of a veteran, killed for loving a woman

Clearly wanting to be sensitive around the topic, Pace was able to provide more insight into what the role meant to him at the time (it earned him a Golden Globe nomination), and how it has stuck with him over the years:

“I was so convinced that I was like, ‘There, I’ve done it. That character is so far from myself. I completely transformed.’ But when I watched and I watched it back, I didn’t see someone who was different from myself. I just saw me and who I was then. Speaking with another character’s voice and stuff, but I saw more, much more of myself than I would’ve, than I expected to.”

As the piece insinuates, Soldier’s Girl allowed Pace to get in touch with a different side of himself, something he’s really only been able to see in retrospect. And perhaps that’s why the actor’s become this emblem of—as the writer puts it—an “unselfconscious masculinity.”

 

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Pace is a man who projects an easy confidence in who he is, one who typifies a kind of manliness that’s not so… toxic.

“It’s a loud force in our world,” Pace says of masculinity. “And I think that makes it very hypnotic. But I also think that it’s a very multifaceted thing. There’s lots of different ways to look at what that is. It’s not always the toxic thing that we have come to stamp it as.”

Soldier’s Girl is available to stream for Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, and Tubi subscribers.