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Top 8 Actors Who Played Opposite Gender Roles

Shruti Bhat
Actors show their skills on stage or in front of the camera every single day. They undergo a radical transformation and show their true dedication and talent in portraying roles of the opposite gender.

Did You Know?

One of the India's greatest stage actors Narayan Rajhans, popularly known as Bal Gandharva, was famous for playing female characters on stage. In the first half of the 20th century, he acted as the female lead in around 25 musicals.
Since Shakespearean times, men have shaved off their whiskers, worn makeup, and adorned gowns to portray women on stage. And their work and look has been so flawlessly that they could make any woman fume with jealousy.
As time passed, women were free to grace the stage, and several roles were drafted specifically for women. Some roles dictated women to play the opposite gender. One such role was that of Peter Pan. The introduction of movies and talkies added to the mass appreciation of acting skills and actors and actresses.
Filmmaking has evolved over the years, and it has also raised the bar for talented and dedicated actors to display their craft.

Robin Williams

Mrs. Doubtfire was Robin Williams' most iconic role where he disguises himself as an elderly nanny so that he could stay close to his estranged family. He made us cry with laughter with his various shenanigans like dipping his face in cake, burning his woman's costume, etc.
His performance was well-appreciated, so much so, that the film received an Academy Award for Best Makeup.

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett stunned the critics with her role as Jude Quinn in the movie I'm Not There, in which her character represented 1965's Bob Dylan. Her acting and dedication to her role won her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Awards nomination as the Best Supporting Actress.

Dustin Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman has played several challenging and iconic roles like Ben Braddock in the Graduate, or Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man. But none compares to his role as Dorothy Michaels in Tootsie. The movie follows the trials and tribulations of an otherwise unemployed actor who disguises himself as a woman, and lands a role in a soap opera.

Tilda Swinton

If you thought portraying the opposite gender on screen is difficult, then you might want to take a look Tilda Swinton's lead role in the movie Orlando where she effortlessly essayed both roles of a man and a woman. The casting director of the movie later confessed that he knew that the role was Tilda's when he saw her on stage in both costumes.

John Travolta

You might have seen John Travolta in leather pants and jacket with well-moussed hair, dancing to 70s' music in Grease.
You would have never imagined seeing him in a pink sequin dress as Edna Turnblad, in the 2007 movie Hairspray. Edna Turnblad is middle-aged plus-sized woman, with a teenage daughter, who runs a laundry business from her house and reluctantly agrees to become her daughter's agent.

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry introduced Madea in the 2005 movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, and there's been no looking back ever since. Madea is a tough old lady, who won't think twice before showing some tough love, even if it hurts you. People loved her role so much that she landed herself a TV series, and signed quite a few movies after that.

Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank was already in the spotlight for her role in 'The Next Karate Kid'. She made headlines again when she cutoff her mane, shrunk down to 7% of her body weight, and lived as a man for an entire month.
All this was done as preparation for her gender-bending role in the movie, Boys Don't Cry. The film gained widespread acclaim from critics and earned Swank an Academy Award for Best Actress in the year 2000.

Linda Hunt

Linda Hunt has lent her voice to many cartoons, documentaries, commercials, and musicals, but acting is truly her forte.
This was evidently witnessed, in the 1982 movie The Year of Living Dangerously, in which she played the role of Billy Kwan, a Chinese-Australian male photographer.
For this role, she colored her hair black and chopped them off, shaved her eyebrows, and padded her body in order to look like a man. Her dedication and acting skills won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

A List of Actors Who Played Opposite Gender Roles

Charlie Chaplin (A Busy Day)
Alec Guinness (Kind Hearts and Coronets)
Angelina Jolie (Salt)
Hugo Weaving (Cloud Atlas)
Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future)
Eddie Murphy (Norbit and The Nutty Professor)
Amanda Bynes (She's the Man)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love)
Adam Sandler (Jack and Jill)
Wallace Beery (The Champ and Viva Villa!)
Fatty Arbuckle (Miss Fatty's Seaside Lovers)
Arthur Lucan (Old Mother Riley, Mother Riley Meets the Vampire, and "Old Mother Riley Detective)
Alastair Sim (The Belles of St. Trinian's and Blue Murder at St. Trinian's)
Jerry Lewis (Three on a Couch, The Ladies Man, The Patsy, Hardly Working)
Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future Part II)
Felicity Huffman (Transamerica)
Shawn and Marlon Wayans (White Chicks)