Traditions of male-only performance cultures
Many societies prohibited women from performing on stage, so boys and men took the female roles. 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). In Chinese opera specialized male actors who play female roles (dàn) are referred to as nándàn (男旦); the practice arose during the Qing dynasty due to imperial prohibitions against women performing on stage, considered detrimental to public morality.
Japanese kabuki theatre began in the 17th century with all-female troupes performing both male and female roles. In 1629 the disrepute of kabuki performances (or of their audiences) led to the banning of women from the stage, but kabuki's great popularity inspired the formation of all-male troupes to carry on the theatrical genre. In kabuki, the portrayal of female characters by men is known as onnagata. The practice is detailed in a story of the same name by the Japanese writer, Yukio Mishima. All roles in Noh dramas are traditionally played by male actors; actors playing female roles wear feminine costumes and female-featured masks. The Takarazuka Revue is a contemporary all-female Japanese acting company, known for their elaborate productions of stage musicals. Takarazuka actresses specialize in either male or female roles, with male-role actresses receiving top billing.
Nearly all the characters in Chinese Opera were performed by men; they cross-dressed to play the roles of women. A famous cross-dressing opera singer is Mei Lanfang. From early 20th century, Yue opera is developed from all male to all female genre. Although male performers were introduced into this opera in 1950s and 1960s, today, Yue opera is still associated as the only all female opera and the second most popular opera in China.
In Renaissance England, women were forbidden from performing on stage, so female roles in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporary playwrights were originally played by cross-dressing men or boys. (See also Stage Beauty.) Therefore, the original productions of the above-mentioned Shakespeare plays actually involved double-cross-dressing: male actors playing female characters disguising themselves as males. Academic research into the contemporary attitudes towards the practise have yielded a variety of interpretations. Historian Laura Levine argues that "an all-male acting troupe was the natural and unremarkable product of a culture whose conception of gender was "teleologically male".
Women as men
Cross-dressing in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain was frequent among actors, and the theater was at the time the most popular form of entertainment. There was a fascination with female cross-dressers particularly (women dressed as men), who were "extremely popular" in the "Golden Age Comedia". Male actors might play the "women dressed as men" parts. Spain eventually found this cross-dressing to be threatening to social order, and passed laws targeting female transvestites throughout the 1600s. Despite the negative reactions and disapproval, it continued to remain very popular in the comedia.
Theatre, operas, plays, ballets and pantomime
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. More specifically, a theatrical or 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 may instead be performed by a female mezzo-soprano or contralto.
In the late 19th century, one of the most famous actresses was Vesta Tilley, who worked in a music hall from age five well into her fifties. In the late 1890s, she was the highest paid woman in Britain. What made her so famous was her tendency to dress as a man and act out "masculine" scenes and roles. Centuries before, Julie d'Aubigny, aka "La Maupin" (1670–1707), had also been famous for her breeches roles.
In 1904, Nina Boucicault originated the theatrical tradition of cross-sex casting for Peter Pan, continued thereafter by Maude Adams, Marilyn Miller, Eva Le Gallienne, Sandy Duncan, and Cathy Rigby, among others. In 1954 Mary Martin portrayed the title character in the musical Peter Pan. "The boy who would never grow up" is a classic trouser role, as is Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro (by Beaumarchais).
In pantomime plays that are traditionally adaptations of fairy tales and performed around Christmastide, the role of lead male was once commonly played by a principal boy—a young, attractive, female. This practise has fallen out of favour recently, with popular male television and pop stars taking these roles. Conversely, the role of a pantomime dame, a middle aged woman played by a man in drag for comic relief, is still one of the mainstays of panto.
Similarly, Georgy Millyar played a role of Baba Yaga, an ugly old woman with supernatural abilities in a dozen of films, including Vasilisa the Beautiful (1940) and Jack Frost (1964). He used to say that an actress does not ever allow anyone to make her that ugly, while he does.
In animations and video games, it is not unusual for female actors to voice young male characters. Notable example are Nancy Cartwright voicing Bart Simpson in The Simpsons and Junko Takeuchi voicing Naruto Uzumaki in the anime series Naruto. An example of a male actor voicing a female character is Bob Peterson as Roz in Monsters, Inc..
When the casting director of a production decides to employ cross-sex acting, selecting the actors in this way is sometimes also called "cross-sex casting" or simply "cross-casting".
In film and television
- see also Cross-dressing in film and television (mainly listing characters cross-dressing in the frame of a story, rather than actors cross-dressing to portray a role of the opposite sex)
|1914||A Busy Day||Charlie Chaplin||Wife||male to female||comedic||English|
|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. This short was released 13 July 1914.|
|1920||Treasure Island||Shirley Mason||Jim Hawkins||female to male||dramatic||English|
|1921||Little Lord Fauntleroy||Mary Pickford||Cedric Errol||female to male||dramatic||English||Mary Pickford starred as both Cedric Errol and Widow Errol.|
|1924||Peter Pan||Betty Bronson||Peter Pan||female to male||dramatic||English|
|1932||The Old Dark House||Elspeth Dudgeon||Sir Roderick Femm||female to male||dramatic||English||credited as 'John Dudgeon'|
|1936||Stars on Parade||Arthur Lucan||Old Mother Riley||male to female||musical||English||The first of 17 films with Old Mother Riley|
|1936||Sathi Leelavathi||M. K. Mani||Lakshmi||male to female||dramatic||Tamil|||
|1939||Wilton's Zoo||Annie van Ees||Jan Grovers (Boefje)||female to male||dramatic||Dutch||45-year-old Annie van Ees plays the 16-year-old Boefje. She had played this role since 1922 in theatre.|
|1942||Cactus Makes Perfect||Monte Collins||Ma Stooge||male to female||comedic||English|
|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 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 Fritton||male to female||comedic||English|
|1959||The Mouse that Roared||Peter Sellers||Grand Duchess Gloriana XII||male to female||comedic||English|
|1962||Sjors en Sjimmie op het pirateneiland||Jos van der Linden||Sjimmie||female to male||dramatic||Dutch||Sjimmie is played by director Henk van der Linden's daughter in blackface.|
|1965||Sjors en Sjimmie en de gorilla||Jos van der Linden||Sjimmie||female to male||dramatic||Dutch|
|1967||Bhakta Prahlada||Roja Ramani||Prahlada||female to male||dramatic||Telugu|||
|1976−present||various||Barry Humphries||Dame Edna Everage||male to female||comedic||English|
|1977||Sjors en Sjimmie en het zwaard van Krijn||Mariska Fikkie||Sjimmie||female to male||dramatic||Dutch||credited as 'Mar Fikkie'|
|1977||Die Vorstadtkrokodile||Birgit Komanns||Kurt||female to male||dramatic||German||voice dubbed by Oliver Rohrbeck|
|1978||Monkey (Saiyūki)||Masako Natsume||Tripitaka||female to male||dramatic||Japanese|
|1979||Monty Python's Life of Brian||Terry Jones||Brian's mother||male to female||comedic||English|
|1980||The Empire Strikes Back||Marjorie Eaton||Palpatine||female to male||dramatic||English||voice dubbed by Clive Revill|
original release version only
|1981||Göta kanal eller Vem drog ur proppen?||Christer Lindarw||Queen Silvia||male to female||comedic||Swedish||Cameo|
|1981||Sopor||Margaretha Krook||Gösta Bohman||female to male||comedic||Swedish||Small role|
|1982||Fanny and Alexander||Stina Ekblad||Ismael Retzinsky||female to male||dramatic||Swedish|
|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|
|1985||Didi und die Rache der Enterbten||Dieter Hallervorden||Florentine||male to female||comedic||German|
|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
|1986||Haunted Honeymoon||Dom DeLuise||Aunt Kate||male to female||comedic||English|
|1988||Hairspray||Divine||Edna Turnblad||male to female||comedic||English|
|1988||Coming to America||Arsenio Hall||Extremely Ugly Girl||male to female||comedic||English|
|1989||Back to the Future Part II||Michael J. Fox||Marlene McFly||male to female||comedic||English||Michael J. Fox plays three characters - Marty McFly,|
Marty McFly Jr. and Marlene McFly.
|1991||Hook||Glenn Close||Gutless||female to male||dramatic||English||Cameo|
|1991||Nothing but Trouble||John Candy||Eldona||male to female||comedic||English|
|male to female||comedic||English|
|1992||Swordsman II||Brigitte Lin||Invincible Asia||female to male||dramatic||English||Asia is a man who has castrated himself.|
|female to male
male to female
|dramatic||English||The character of 'Orlando' changes gender, female to male.|
|1993||The Beverly Hillbillies||Diedrich Bader||Jethrine Bodine||male to female||comedic||English||Bader also plays Jethrine's twin brother Jethro.|
|1995||Filmpje!||Paul de Leeuw||Annie de Rooij||male to female||comedic||Dutch||Paul de Leeuw introduced the character of Annie de Rooij in 1992 in the third seasons of his television show De schreeuw van De Leeuw. Annie was married to Bob de Rooij, also played by Paul de Leeuw.|
|1996||A Very Brady Sequel||RuPaul||Mrs. Cummings||male to female||comedic||English|
|1996||The Nutty Professor||Eddie Murphy||Mama / Granny Klump||male to female||comedic||English|
|1999||Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo||Big Boy||Fluisa||male to female||comedic||English|
|1999||Tyrone||Coolio||Cherone||male to female||comedic||English||Coolio also plays Cherone's brothers, Tyrone & Jerome|
|1999||Liang Po Po The Movie||Jack Neo||Liang Po Po / Liang Xi Mei||male to female||comedic||Chinese and English||an 85 year old granny played by Singaporean filmmaker and actor Jack Neo.|
|2000||Nutty Professor II: The Klumps||Eddie Murphy||Mama / Granny Klump||male to female||comedic||English|
|2000||Kevin & Perry Go Large||Kathy Burke||Perry||female to male||comedic||English|
|2002||EvenHand||iO Tillett Wright||Toby||female to male||dramatic||English|
|2003||Girls Will Be Girls||Jack Plotnick
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|
|2004||My Nikifor||Krystyna Feldman||Nikifor||female to male||dramatic||Polish||Feldman won 2005 Polish Film Awards for best actress|
|2005||Diary of a Mad Black Woman||Tyler Perry||Madea||male to female||comedic||English|
|2005||Alatriste||Blanca Portillo||Emilio Bocanegra||female to male||dramatic||Spanish|
|2006||Madea's Family Reunion||Tyler Perry||Madea||male to female||comedic||English|
|2006||Black Christmas||Dean Friss||Agnes Lenz||male to female||horror||English|
|2007||I'm Not There||Cate Blanchett||Jude Quinn||female to male||dramatic||English||Jude Quinn is stylized after Bob Dylan|
|2007||Hairspray||John Travolta||Edna Turnblad||male to female||comedic||English|
|2007||Norbit||Eddie Murphy||Rasputia||male to female||comedic||English|
|2007||St Trinian's||Rupert Everett||Miss Camilla 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||dramatic||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||Madea||male to female||comedic||English|
|2009||Madea Goes to Jail||Tyler Perry||Madea||male to female||comedic||English|
|2009||St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold||Rupert Everett||Miss Camilla Fritton||male to female||comedic||English|
|2011||30 Rock||Margaret Cho||Kim Jong-Il||female to male||comedic||English||Cho was nominated to an Emmy for her guest role|
|2011||Jack and Jill||Adam Sandler
|male to female||comedic||English||Sandler plays both Jack and Jill Sadelstein|
|2012||Cloud Atlas||Hugo Weaving
|male to female
male to female
female to male
female to male
|2014||Black Butler Live Action||Ayame Goriki||Earl Kiyohara Genpu||female to male||dramatic||Japanese|
|2014||Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie||Brendan O'Carroll||Agnes Brown||male to female||comedic||English|
|2014||Peter Pan Live!||Allison Williams||Peter Pan||female to male||dramatic||English|||
|2014||Predestination||Sarah Snook||The Unmarried Mother||female to male||dramatic||English||The character changes gender, female to male.|
|2015||Bon Bini Holland||Jandino Asporaat||Judeska, Gerrie||male to female||comedic||Dutch|
|2016−2019||Baskets||Louie Anderson||Christine Baskets||male to female||comedic||English||Emmy Award for Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series|
|2018||Suspiria||Tilda Swinton||Dr. Jozef Klemperer||female to male||dramatic||English/German||One of three roles played by Swinton in the film|
|2019||The Twentieth Century||Louis Negin
J. Israël Tarte
|male to female
male to female
female to male
|comedic||English||Film deliberately intended to come across unrealistic and dreamlike; also utilizes colour-blind casting in two other roles.|
- Tootsie (1982) - The character Michael Dorsey (portrayed by Dustin Hoffman) star as Dorothy Michaels in the show-within-show soap opera Southwest General
- Victor/Victoria (1982) - The character Victoria Grant (portrayed by Julie Andrews) pretends to be Count Victor Grezinski and finds work as a female impersonator.
- Flickan vid stenbänken (1989) - The character Carolin (Anna Edlund) briefly portrays a man in a (show-within-show) play.
- Shakespeare in Love (1998) - The character Viola de Lesseps (portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow) disguises herself as Thomas Kent and then plays the part of Juliet in the show-within-show Romeo and Juliet.
- Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) - The character Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) dresses as nanny Mrs. Doubtfire and is hired to host a children's show.
Video Game examples
- Super Mario Sunshine (2002) - Bowser Jr was portrayed by Dolores Rogers
- Mario Strikers Charged (2007) Caety Sagoian voiced as Bowser Jr for the first time.
- New Super Mario Bros Wii (2009) - A few Koopalings, including Larry, Lemmy and Morton were voiced by Lani Minella.
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (2010) - For the JP version, Makoto Naegi was portrayed by Megumi Ogata. In the English version, Chihiro Fujsaki was voiced by Dorothy Fahn and for the Japanese version, His VA was Kōki Miyata.
- Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (2012) - Hajime Hinata was voiced by Minami Takayama while Nagito Komaeda was voiced by Makoto's VA; Megumi Ogata.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising (2012) - Pit was portrayed by Minami Takayama, Who majorly voiced as him for the Super Smash Bros series.
- Mario Kart 8 (2014) - Larry Koopa and Lemmy Koopa were voiced by their current VA's, Michelle Hippe and Carlee McManus, though Lemmy's new VA was not disclosed until almost 5 years later for the 3DS remake game Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey.
- Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (2017) - Female Seiyuu Megumi Hayashibara voiced as the Ultimate Deceive; Shuichi Saihara, while Kōichi Yamadera voiced as the only female Monokub; Monophanie along with the rest of the kubs.
- Cross-dressing in film and television
- Cross-dressing in literature
- Köçek, a Turkish term for a young male entertainer dressed as a young woman
- List of transgender-related topics
- List of transgender characters in film and television
- Guanda Wu (2013). "Should Nandan Be Abolished? The Debate over Female Impersonation in Early Republican China and Its Underlying Cultural Logic". Asian Theatre Journal. 30 (1): 189–206. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.818.4786. doi:10.1353/atj.2013.0008. ISSN 1527-2109. S2CID 161652350.
- Globe Theatre Female Roles
- Maclennan, Ian Burns (1994). "If I were a woman": A study of the boy player in the Elizabethan public theatre (PhD thesis).
- Howard, Jean E. (1988). "Crossdressing, The Theatre, and Gender Struggle in Early Modern England" (PDF). Shakespeare Quarterly. 39 (4): 419. doi:10.2307/2870706. JSTOR 2870706. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
- Watson, Brian. Crossdressing, Crossculture: Conceptions and Perceptions of Crossdressing in Golden Age Madrid and Tudor-Stuart London (Thesis). p. 5-6.
- Seagraves, Rosie (August 2013). "SHE AS HE: CROSS-DRESSING, THEATER, AND "IN-BETWEENS" IN EARLY MODERN SPAIN": 1. Cite journal requires
- Steinbach, Susie L. . Understanding the Victorians. London: Routledge, 2012. 192-193. Print.
- Pilkington, Angel M. "Peter Pan: Myth and Fantasy", Archived 2009-01-08 at the Wayback Machine Midsummer Magazine, 2000, reprinted at the Utah Shakespearean Festival website, 2007
- Актеры советского и российского кино (Actors of Soviet and Russian cinema) (in Russian) http://rusactors.ru/m/millyar/
- Sathi Leelavathi (PDF) (press book). Coimbatore: Manorama Films. 1936.
- "Yesteryear Telugu diva recalls unexpected film debut 50 yrs ago". Manorama Online. October 1, 2018. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
- "Awards for J.L. Reate", IMDb. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
- Hammond, Stefan; Wilkins, Mike (1996), Sex and Zen & a bullet in the head, Simon and Schuster, p. 80, ISBN 978-0-684-80341-8
- 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.
- "Allison Williams in 'Peter Pan' continues a cross-dressing tradition". Los Angeles Times. 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2019-08-29.