Emma Corrin says they would love to be considered for male roles: we look at examples of gender-defying acting

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Emma Corrin starred in The Crown as Diana, Princess of Wales and has now expressed an interest in taking on male roles

Gender and defining pronouns have become a topic of much debate in recent years, although it has always been alluded to in plays and novels over the centuries.

The most famous playwright in British culture, William Shakespeare, would have written female parts with the expectation that a male actor would have played the role on stage.

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Shakespeare also took on the subject of people disguising themselves as the opposite gender to in some way gain advantage or seek a new opportunity - most famously in Twelfth Night when the character of Viola disguises herself as a man, Cesario, so that she can get employment by serving Duke Orsino.

In modern times, we have the rise of non-binary and transgender rights. Emma Corrin, who identifies as non-binary, has added to the debate surrounding acting roles and limitations placed on people based on perceptions.

The 27-year-old, who uses 'they/them' pronouns, is one of a dozen rising stars chosen for the cover of Vanity Fair’s annual Hollywood issue this month (February 2023).

"It’s interesting that I’m not offered male parts, but I would be equally drawn to that,” Corrin told the magazine.

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"I suppose it’s also what the industry sees you as, and I think, hopefully, that is shifting. The beauty of acting is taking on a character that doesn’t necessarily have to be completely in tune with your own experience. It’s sort of a way to explore.

"But I would love to play non-binary, new parts, male parts. Anything, as long as it’s right."

Asked if their desire to play feminine parts was waning, Corrin said: "There aren’t lots of non-binary parts out there. We need to be supporting queer writers and developing projects and welcoming these narratives into the creative space.

"But also, being non-binary for me is a very fluid space where it’s not a rejection of femininity or masculinity. It’s sort of an embrace of both. My experience on this earth has been a female one, up until recently, and I still love all those parts of me."

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We look at other actors who have played interesting characters of the opposite gender to the one they were born.

Kathy Burke

The actress and comedian played Perry, the best friend of Kevin - a moody teenager - on the BBC comedy series Harry Enfield & Chums. She also starred in the film spin-off of the two friends in Kevin & Perry Go Large, which was in cinemas in 2000.

The film received good and bad reviews from critics but is recognised for its excellent soundtrack.

Blanca Portillo

Blanca Portillo played Friar Emilio Bocanegra in the film, Alatriste, which came out in 2006. Emilio was a Dominican friar and president of the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition. Portillo's physical transformation and her acting performance have been highly praised.

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Cate Blanchett

In the biographical movie I’m Not There, Cate Blanchett played the part of Jude Quinn, one of Bob Dylan’s shifting personals. She did such a great job that nobody recognised she was an actress playing a man. Not only did she look like one of the grumpiest men in the music industry, but she also nailed his spiritual chaos.

Tilda Swinton

In the 2018 movie Suspiria, everybody would instantly recognise Tilda Swinton as Madame Blanc. However, not everybody knew she also played Dr. Klemperer, an old psychiatrist who was investigating the coven’s activities after one of his clients disappeared.

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