The power of op­po­sites

ac­tors por­tray­ing gen­der ben­der roles have cre­ated quite a stir in past Os­cars.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - OSCAR SPECIAL - By KENNETH CHAW en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

AF­TER en­joy­ing wins at both the re­cent Golden Globes and Screen Ac­tors Guild, Jared Leto is most likely to take home this year’s Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tor Os­car for his role as a HIV-pos­i­tive trans­gen­der in Dal­las Buy­ers Club.

Re­gard­less of whether Leto wins or loses, he joins a slew of ac­tors who have re­ceived crit­i­cal ac­claims for their gen­der ben­der roles. Here’s a look at a few:

Hi­lary Swank ( Boys Don’t Cry) Hi­lary Swank played a man? No way! In­deed, it’s hard to imag­ine this grace­ful, gor­geous brunette as a brood­ing, rough-and-tough man, but Swank played the young chap, Bran­don Teena, in the 1999 in­die film, Boys Don’t Cry.

Based on a true story, Bran­don is a fe­male-to-male trans­gen­der who moves to Ne­braska in search of a new life and a new iden­tity.

To pre­pare for the role, Swank re­port­edly walked and talked like a man for a month, even wrap­ping her chest with ban­dages and putting a sock on her groin to get into char­ac­ter. All that hard work paid off when she won her first Best Ac­tress Os­car for the role.

Felic­ity Huff­man ( Transamer­ica) Felic­ity Huff­man se­cured a nom­i­na­tion for the 2005 Best Ac­tress Os­car but didn’t take home the ti­tle that night. Even so, Huff­man’s por­trayal of Sab­rina “Bree” Os­bourne, a male-to-fe­male trans­gen­der in Transamer­ica is not neg­li­gi­ble.

Just one week be­fore her sched­uled vagino­plasty, Bree is sur­prised to dis­cover that she has a son and must come to terms with her past be­fore go­ing ahead with the oper­a­tion.

Widely-recog­nised for her role as Lynette Scavo in Des­per­ate House­wives, Huff­man’s Os­car nom­i­na­tion proved she was not just a TV ac­tress who could por­tray a nosy neigh­bour on Wis­te­ria Lane, but a se­ri­ous ac­tor de­voted to her craft.

Julie An­drews ( Vic­tor Vic­to­ria) Yes, even the sweet, sing-songy Julie An­drews has played a man. Well, she is no less sing-songy in this 1982 com­edy mu­si­cal, Vic­tor Vic­to­ria. An­drews plays out-of-job so­prano singer Vic­to­ria Grant who, in or­der to keep food on the ta­ble, is forced to pre­tend to be a man who then gets a job singing as a fe­male im­per­son­ator.

Yes, it’s con­fus­ing. Let’s try this again. Woman acts like man who acts like woman. (That’s some se­ri­ous gen­der-bend­ing right there.) An­drews even­tu­ally lost the Best Ac­tress Os­car to Meryl Streep for the lat­ter’s per­for­mance in Sophie’s Choice but was no doubt a strong con­tender. (C’mon, it’s Meryl Streep af­ter all.)

Cate Blanchett ( I’m Not There) If you look hard enough, like re­ally hard, Cate Blanchett does kind of look like Bob Dy­lan. Nah, not in a mil­lion years. But in I’m Not There, an un­con­ven­tional biopic where six ac­tors por­tray dif­fer­ent facets of Dy­lan’s life, Blanchett’s por­trayal as male folk singer Jude Quinn bears a strik­ing (and eerie) re­sem­blance to the mu­si­cian.

Here, the usu­ally re­gal Blanchett (re­mem­ber her role as Queen El­iz­a­beth I?) dons a wig and a leather jacket with a cig­a­rette hang­ing from her lips. And the Academy agreed, too, dol­ing out a Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tress Os­car nom­i­na­tion to Blanchett, the only ac­tor from the film to do so, beat­ing out even the late Heath Ledger, Richard Gere and Chris­tian Bale who all played Bob Dy­lan in I’m Not There.

Dustin Hoff­man ( Toot­sie) If the idea of Dustin Hoff­man as a woman scared you, well, it scared him, too. In a video that went vi­ral last year, the ac­tor shared in an in­ter­view that he had to take on the role af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an epiphany.

“If I met my­self at a party, I would never talk to that char­ac­ter be­cause she doesn’t ful­fill phys­i­cally the de­mands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in or­der to ask them out,” Hoff­man said about him­self af­ter get­ting styled and made-up as a woman.

“There are too many in­ter­est­ing woman I have not had the ex­pe­ri­ence to know in this life be­cause I have been brain­washed.”

Toot­sie, a com­edy flick, tells the tale of a dif­fi­cult ac­tor who drove all his job of­fers away and ends up hav­ing to pre­tend to be a woman to get his ca­reer up and run­ning again.

Hoff­man scored a Best Ac­tor Os­car nom­i­na­tion for the role and ended the in­ter­view, say­ing, “That [ Toot­sie] was never a com­edy for me.”

A Swank per­for­mance: hi­lary Swank (above left) plays non-op­er­a­tive, fe­male-tomale trans­gen­der bran­don Teena in boys­don’tCry.

(Left) Julie an­drews pre­tend­ing to be a man pre­tend­ing to be a fe­male singer (it’s com­pli­cated) in Vic­torVic­to­ria.

des­per­atehousewives star Felic­ity huff­man proves she is more than just a TV ac­tress with her por­trayal as maleto-fe­male trans­gen­der bree in

Transamer­ica.

Cate blanchett — in I’mNotThere — earned her­self an Os­car nom­i­na­tion.

For dustin hoff­man, Toot­sie was not a com­edy flick.

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