Arts and Culture, Featured

Lights, camera … gender? Who cares! A standing ovation for character fluidity in the arts

Oct 4, 2019, Author: Carly Ritz

The performing  arts has been challenging gender boundaries for decades.  From men playing women in ancient Greece to Nancy Cartwright playing the voice of Bart Simpson, the changeability of gender roles in the arts is something to be celebrated. These are some of our favourite performances.  


Cate Blanchett in I’m Not There 

In Todd Hayne’s unconventional biopic, I’m Not There, various actors take on the challenge of playing legendary musician Bob Dylan as they portray different facets of Dylan’s public personas. Amongst the lineup of actors, which includes Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Richard Gere, came the unanticipated casting of award-winning actress Cate Blanchett. Blanchett plays Dylan as he was in the 1960s: A little bit jaded and wickedly witty … and her performance is simply brilliant. Blanchett received many accolades for this particular role, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination. If there’s only one thing you take away from this list, it’s making sure that you watch this! 

Nancy Cartwright in The Simpsons  

Bart Simpson is one of the most recognisable cartoon voices in the history of television, like Chucky from Rugrats, which makes sense because they’re voiced by the same person, Nancy Cartwright. Cartwright showed up to an audition back in the 1980s to audition for the role of Lisa Simpson but decided Bart’s character was more interesting (and bratty and rude, obvs). She auditioned and the creator of the show, Matt Groening, hired her on the spot. 


Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love 

This is a fictional tale in which an imaginary love affair develops between playwright William Shakespeare (played by Joseph Fiennes) and a young woman named Viola de Lesseps (hello, Gwyneth) posing as a man so she can grab the limelight in one of his plays. Of course, Paltrow, who plays the role of Thomas Kent, wins Shakespeare over … and so begins this romantic period comedy drama for those with a penchant for the genre. The role earned her the best actress Oscar title about two decades ago and in her own words, “Changed her [my] life.” Paltrow’s incredible success in playing this male character takes on Shakespeare’s and the outlandish Elizabethan notion in the 1600s that acting was deemed inappropriate for women. Well, now who’s laughing all the way to the bank, old dead gents? 

Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor 

Let’s be honest: A piece like this simply wouldn’t be complete without an ode to Eddie Murphy as one of the most dynamic actors of his time when it comes to invoking different characters – both young and old, male and female. Not only does Murphy play the entire Klump Family in this family comedy, but also gives each character their own unique persona. 


Spread the love