There still seems to be a backlash in the thought of a male actor portraying a notable female figure. So far, every female impersonation by a male actor in a film has been a fictional character rather than real. And I'll admit that going into this article with the thought of a male comedian playing a very real and respected female singing artist is going to ruffle a number of people with or without feathers.
When you hear about singing sensation Susan Boyle soon having a musical biopic made on her life, we have to think of her own approval in who plays her. But if you flash back three years when nascent rumors were flying about a Boyle movie, a story arose that Robin Williams was interested in the part. At the time, he was even doing an impersonation of Boyle for close friends that was said to be dead on.
Then he decided to drop out of consideration for the role, no doubt with the fear that audiences would think he's portraying a new variation of "Mrs. Doubtfire." With three years passing, though, would there still be the potential of criticism if Williams was considered again, or even another male actor?
The answer to that lies somewhere in the acceptability of a woman playing a man in a movie, which is already increasing recently.
For a template, all you need to see is Cate Blanchett playing her physical interpretation of a 1966 Bob Dylan in 2007's "I'm Not There." You can even say that Blanchett resembled and captured the true essence of Dylan better than any of the other actors who re-created segments of his life. In a recent Rolling Stone interview, the real Dylan even said that he liked the film and the actor portrayals.
However, how would a real female notable feel about a man playing her? To be fair, Robin Williams has much of the same facial characteristics of Susan Boyle, hence why there was so much serious consideration. Williams also needs a challenging role again after not having done one in almost 20 years.
Any detriment there would be in Williams' age, which is considerably more than when Boyle found success on "Britain's Got Talent" at age 47. We have to suspect, also, that Williams would treat his subject with as much respect as Blanchett did Dylan. It's a misnomer to think that a comedian playing Boyle would be an insulting performance, even with wild Internet suggestions that Jack Black play her.
With more women convincingly playing men in movies (a la "Albert Nobbs"), it's time for a man to play a real woman for the sake of taking acting into a different frontier we haven't seen prior. Likely, though, Boyle herself would balk at that being set forth with her role. Look out for Meryl Streep being the most probable candidate in playing Susan Boyle to feed the notion that a man playing her would make her look too masculine.
In reality, certain actors have particular features that are malleable to a point where we shouldn't have to distinguish them as distinctly masculine or feminine when performing. It's what makes acting the distinctly great art form that it is.
The only thing keeping it down is a notable person's personal pride in someone of the opposite gender portraying his or her life.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Susan Boyle
- Robin Williams
- Cate Blanchett