Cross-gender acting

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Mary Pickford as Cedric Errol in a lobby card for the 1921 film Little Lord Fauntleroy

Cross-gender acting refers to an actor or actress portraying a character of the opposite gender. It is distinct from roles where transgendered characters or characters who cross-dress are played.

In the ancient Greek theatre men played females, as they did in English Renaissance theatre and continue to do in Japanese kabuki theatre (see Onnagata) A Breeches role referres to a male character (usually a youth or young man) traditionally played by a woman in theatre or in opera. The term travesti refers to both actresses playing men and actors playing women in the theatre.

In animations it is not unusual for female actors to voice young male characters. One example is Nancy Cartwright voicing Bart Simpson in The Simpsons. An example of a man voicing a female character is Bob Peterson as Roz in Monsters, Inc..

When the casting director of a production decides to employ cross-gender acting, selecting the actors in this way is sometimes also called "cross-gender casting" or simply "cross-casting".

Cross-gender acting in film and television[edit]

Release
year
Title Actor Role Direction Role Language Note(s)
1914 A Busy Day Charlie Chaplin "Wife" male to female comedic English Short comedy.
1914 Sweedie the Swatter Wallace Beery Sweedie male to female comedic English The first of a series of Sweedie films, made between 1914 and 1916
1921 Little Lord Fauntleroy Mary Pickford Cedric Errol female to male English Mary Pickford starred as both Cedric Errol and Widow Errol
1936 Stars on Parade Arthur Lucan Old Mother Riley male to female English The first of 17 films with Old Mother Riley
1949 Kind Hearts and Coronets Alec Guinness Lady Agatha D'Ascoyne male to female comedic English Alec Guinness plays eight members of the aristocratic D'Ascoyne family.
1954 The Belles of St Trinian's Alastair Sim Headmistress Millicent Fritton male to female comedic English Alastair Sim plays both Millicent Fritton and her brother, Clarence Fritton.
1957 Blue Murder at St Trinian's Alastair Sim Headmistress Miss Fritton male to female comedic English
1978 Monkey (Saiyūki) Masako Natsume Tripitaka (Xuanzang) female to male dramatic Japanese Maria Warburg provided Tripitaka's voice in the dubbed, English version.[1]
1981 Göta kanal Christer Lindarw Queen Silvia male to female Swedish Cameo
1982 The Year of Living Dangerously Linda Hunt Billy Kwan female to male dramatic English Hunt won Academy Award for best actress in a supporting role
1986 The Golden Child J.L. Reate The Golden Child female to male dramatic English Reate was nominated to a Young Artist Awards
for Best Young Actress[2]
1988 Hairspray Divine Edna Turnblad male to female English
1988 Coming to America Arsenio Hall "Extremely Ugly Girl" male to female comedic English Hall has a minor role, as girl trying to pick up Akeem and Semmi at a bar.
1989 Back to the Future Part II Michael J. Fox Marlene McFly male to female English Michael J. Fox plays three characters - Marty McFly,
Marty McFly Jr. and Marlene McFly.
1991 Hook Glenn Close Gutless female to male English
1991 Nothing but Trouble John Candy Eldona male to female comedic English
1992 Swordsman II Brigitte Lin Invincible Asia female to male English Asia is a man who has castrated himself.[3]
1992 Orlando Tilda Swinton Orlando female to male dramatic English Orlando is a man the first 2/3 of the film
1992-1997 Martin Martin Lawrence Sheneneh & Mama Payne male to female comedic English
1992 Orlando Quentin Crisp Elizabeth I male to female dramatic[4] English
1996 A Very Brady Sequel RuPaul Mrs. Cummings male to female English Minor role as the High school teacher
1996 The Nutty Professor Eddie Murphy Mama Klump, Grandma Klump male to female comedic English
2000 Nutty Professor II: The Klumps Eddie Murphy Mama Klump, Granny Klump male to female comedic English
2002 EvenHand iO Tillett Wright Toby female to male dramatic English
2003 Girls Will Be Girls Jack Plotnick, Clinton Leupp, Jeffery Roberson Evie Harris, Coco Peru, Varla Jean Merman male to female comedic English All the female characters in this film were played by males.
2004 De Duistere Diamant Peter Van Den Begin Tante Sidonia male to female comedic Dutch
2005 Diary of a Mad Black Woman Tyler Perry Mable "Madea" Simmons male to female comedic English
2005 Alatriste Blanca Portillo Emilio Bocanegra female to male Spanish
2006 Madea's Family Reunion Tyler Perry Mable "Madea" Simmons male to female comedic English
2007 I'm Not There Cate Blanchett Jude Quinn female to male English Jude Quinn is stylized after Bob Dylan
2007 Hairspray John Travolta Edna Turnblad male to female English
2007 Norbit Eddie Murphy Rasputia male to female English
2007 St. Trinian's Rupert Everett Miss Camilla Dagey Fritton male to female comedic English As in the earlier St. Trinian's films, a man plays the character of the Headmistress, Miss Fritton.
2007 Negima!! Yukina Kashiwa Negi Springfield female to male Japanese Live action adaptation of the manga Negima! Magister Negi Magi. The main character, Negi Springfield, is a 10-year-old mage.
2008 Meet the Browns Tyler Perry Mable "Madea" Simmons male to female comedic English
2009 Madea Goes to Jail Tyler Perry Mable "Madea" Simmons male to female comedic English
2009 St. Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold Rupert Everett Miss Camilla Dagey Fritton male to female comedic English
2011 Jack and Jill Adam Sandler Jill Sadelstein male to female comedic English Sandler plays both Jack and Jill Sadelstein
2011 Jack and Jill David Spade Monica male to female comedic English
2012 Cloud Atlas Hugo Weaving Nurse Noakes male to female English
2012 Cloud Atlas Ben Whishaw Georgette male to female English
2012 Cloud Atlas Zhou Xun Talbot / Hotel Manager female to male English
2012 Cloud Atlas Susan Sarandon Yosouf Suleiman female to male English

Meta examples[edit]

Theatre, operas, plays, ballets and pantomime[edit]

Katarina Karnéus as Serse in a 2009 production of Serse at the Royal Swedish Opera.

A travesti is a theatrical term referring to the portrayal of a character in an opera, play, or ballet by a performer of the opposite sex. In 1904, Nina Boucicault originated the theatrical tradition of cross-gender casting for Peter Pan, continued thereafter by Maude Adams, Marilyn Miller, Eva Le Gallienne, Sandy Duncan, and Cathy Rigby, among others.[5] In 1954 Mary Martin portrayed the title character in the musical Peter Pan.

More specifically, an operatic role in which an actress appears in male clothing is called a "breeches role", "pants role" or "trouser role" and roles once performed by a male soprano castrato are more recently sometimes performed by a female mezzo-soprano or contralto.

In pantomime, a principal boy role is the young male protagonist of the play, traditionally played by a young actress in boy's clothes. A pantomime dame is a portrayal of female characters by male actors in drag.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Maria Warburg". www.monkeyheaven.com. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "Awards for J.L. Reate", IMDb. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  3. ^ Hammond, Stefan; Wilkins, Mike (1996), Sex and Zen & a bullet in the head, Simon and Schuster, p. 80, ISBN 978-0-684-80341-8 
  4. ^ Orlando is a drama film and the film's press kit reads "[The director's] research has shown that Crisp's portrayal of Queen Elizabeth may be more than simply an interesting political or comic move", Press kit, sonyclassics.com. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  5. ^ Pilkington, Angel M. "Peter Pan: Myth and Fantasy", Midsummer Magazine, 2000, reprinted at the Utah Shakespearean Festival website, 2007