35+ Actors Who Masterfully Played the Opposite Gender

Angelina Jolie in Salt

Gender is a fluid concept, and cross-dressing in acting is a centuries-old tradition. Over the years, many actors have donned facial hair, dresses, prosthetics, and wigs — and many have given a masterful performance. From Shakespearean tragedies to ’90s comedies, all sorts of genres feature cross-dressing storylines. Of course, there are also biopics, dramas, and procedurals in which actors have played transgender characters. Let’s take a look at the actors who have masterfully played another gender.

Angelina Jolie in Salt

Interestingly, 2010 action thriller Salt was originally written and produced with a male protagonist in mind. More specifically, action star Tom Cruise was attached to play Edwin Salt, an agent who had to rescue his family. When Angelina Jolie signed up, the storyline changed and the lead character became Evelyn Salt.

Pinterest // @monikawalinska7

In the movie, Jolie’s character had to dress as a man, and the actress spent hours in makeup as a result. With a latex face and various fake features, Jolie’s husband and kids didn’t recognize her.

John Travolta in Hairspray

The original Hairspray movie was released in 1988, and featured legendary drag queen Divine as Tracy Turnblad’s larger than life mom, Edna. When the musical rom-com was remade in 2007, Grease actor John Travolta stepped into Edna’s shoes, donning a 30lb fat suit, a beehive wig, and high heels.

X // @filmvefilimler

During filming, Travolta was in makeup for approximately five hours per day, though he admitted that he enjoyed the role. This part is quite a departure from Travolta’s other, more serious roles.

Patrick Swayze in To Wong Foo

Road comedy movie To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar features actors Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze as drag queens Noxeema Jackson and Vida Boheme. At the time, the role of Vida was hot around town — with actors like Mel Gibson, Robin Williams, and Robert Downey Jr. all auditioning in drag.

X // @filmvefilimler

Patrick Swayze was one of the last to audition, but he was desperate for the part. He used his own makeup team, and walked around the city passing as a woman.

Cate Blanchett in I’m Not There

Musical drama I’m Not There features six different actors depicting different facets of musician Bob Dylan’s life. Among those actors are Heath Ledger (in his final film), Richard Gere, and Cate Blanchett. Playing someone of another gender, Blanchett is Jude Quinn, the electric guitar-wielding version of Dylan.

(Left) Facebook // Rockwheels | (Right) Instagram // @cate_blanchett_myqueen

Critics praised Blanchett’s performance, and Anthony DeCurtis commented that “it’s hard to imagine that any male actor, or any less-gifted female actor for that matter, could have lent such rich texture to the role.”