This summer, Anna Hathaway takes the stage in New York City as Viola in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. You might have thought that if the Hollywood A-lister was to play a Shakespeare role, it would be one that relies on her beauty, like a Juliet. Yet, Hathaway proves that feminine charm can have nothing to do with being sexy—her character, when washed ashore in a shipwreck, disguises herself as a page named Cesario with whom another woman, Olivia, falls in love. Anne told New York magazine that she was stoked on cross-dressing: “I was feeling like I could do more to get into my character,” she explains. “So I decided, What if I walked around New York trying to pass for a boy? What if I had to make people look twice to figure out what I was?” [NY Mag]
Here at The Frisky, we’re all about the boy style lately, so we’re intrigued by the appeal of the gender-bending world Anne will inhabit this season. After the jump, some of our favorite cross-dressing characters and moments in history! Joan of Arc heard voices as a child that told her to cut her hair and dress in men’s clothing to enter into battle. During her lifetime, she disguised herself as a page to cross through enemy territory, and also passed as a man in prison to avoid rape. Her cross-dressing became a point of guilt in her first trial for breaking the biblical clothing law. Yet her reasoning was that she had to do a man’s work, so she had to dress the part. It was a man’s world then, baby…
Leonore from Beethoven’s opera, Fidelio disguises herself as a man to sneak into a jail and free her wrongly imprisoned lover. (As a side note, I might add that my parents named me after her. With this in mind, I can’t say that the forecast for my future looks very bright if I’m going to have to be bailing out criminals and strapping my boobs down to do it.)
How come everyone forgets Mulan, the total badass sword-wielding chick, when talking about female Disney characters? In the Disney movie, Mulan goes into battle disguised as a man to take her elderly father’s place. As a historical character Hua Mulan exists in a 6th century Chinese poem, and it’s not known whether she was real or not. We like to think yes.
For a 1982 Muppets special called “I Love Liberty,” Miss Piggy played a few American presidents, one of them Abraham Lincoln, where she tells Kermit that he’s, “four score and seven years too early for this play!” As George Washington she declares, “”I can not tell a lie. Moi am here.” What? Cross-dressing isn’t serious all the time.