Barbie actor Hari Nef to star as trans legend Candy Darling in upcoming biopic

Beloved trans actor Hari Nef will embody Candy Darling, a trans legend from New York who became Andy Warhol's muse.

The picture shows on the left: Candy Darling, and on the right: Hari Nef.
Image: Instagram : @classicactress, @harinef

Hari Nef will be returning to the screen after playing Doctor Barbie in Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed movie Barbie. This time, Hari Nef will take on the role of Candy Darling, an American trans actor who took New York by storm in the 1970s. Her story was told in a first documentary by her friend Jeremiah Newton, Beautiful Darling (2009), mostly portraying the friendship between Andy Warhol and the actress.

Candy Darling’s glamorous persona made her a trailblazer in trans history as she led her life unapologetically. In 1967, she met Andy Warhol at The Tenth of Always in New York. They became an indivisible duo cruising the artistic socialites of upper-class Manhattan and Darling was Warhol’s muse, notably in his movies Flesh (1968) and Women in Revolt (1971).

This new biopic is directed by trans director Zackary Drucker, who has decided to tell Candy Darling’s story by casting star Hari Nef to embody the legend. The movie will portray Darling’s life from her childhood, boldly telling the story of her career and picturing how she became such a queer icon. Drucker is a pioneer in queer cinema, currently directing the upcoming HBO series Queenmaker: The Making of an It Girl.



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American actress and model Hari Nef is mostly known for her roles in Transparent, The Idol and more recently in Barbie. She was the first openly trans model to get a contract with IMG Models, making her runway debut at the New York Fashion Week in 2015 and working with some of the most important agencies, such as L’Oreal, Gucci and American Vogue.

Producer of the upcoming biopic John Cameron Mitchell, known from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, shared his excitement about casting Hari Nef as Candy Darling: “Candy’s legacy could not be in better hands with the glamor and nuance that Hari Nef effortlessly brings to her roles. This is an historic and trailblazing project, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Alongside Hari Nef, Drucker plans to tell Candy Darling’s story by creating a provocative and bold work to inspire everyone. In a statement, Drucker shared what it meant to her to take on such a project:

“I’ve dedicated my life and career to amplifying the history of trans and queer icons, and their impact in shaping art and culture for everyone.” She added: “Candy Darling is at the top of this list. She was one of the first trans people I encountered as a young film cinephile, and her presence has continued to capture my imagination ever since. Candy’s indelible impact as a fierce and glamorous silver screen goddess forged a path for trans people to exist in cinema. It is an absolute honor to direct Candy’s life story.”



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Candy Darling was a unique performer characterized by her signature blond curls and red lipstick. She managed to create her own fantasy world, living as a starlet. However, she still struggled because of transphobia. Even if she was loved for who she was as a glamourous persona, she still had to hide while visiting her mother, arriving late at night, and running to the house to avoid being seen.

Darling rarely had a stable place to live and was also facing discrimination on the artistic scene, as some producers and co-stars refused to work with her, describing her as a “cheap drag queen”. This did not stop the fierce actress from living her life openly and being proud of who she was. As a teenager, she said: “I am me. Do not tell me what I’m supposed to be, accept me for what I am or stay away.” She became an icon within the queer community as she had a major impact on trans visibility, paving the way for trans artists in cinema.

Candy Darling took her last breath at 29 after being diagnosed with lymphoma. Photographer Peter Hujar immortalized her by capturing the actress on her deathbed surrounded by flowers. Darling’s legacy was honoured in the songs Candy Says by the Velvet Underground and Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed.

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