Costuming

Actors Who Dressed In Full Drag For A Role 

Natalie Jonah
Updated June 6, 2019 13.3k views 14 items

Film and TV actors undergo intense preparations to become their characters; many lose or gain weight, others develop accents. Actors who go full drag for a role commit to playing another gender.

The best performers who act in drag do more than don a wig or mustache: they truly play someone different from themselves. The transformations require a sense of poise and empathy, even if the role in question calls for broad comedy. It took a lot of work to create these famous drag roles.

John Travolta is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Actors Who Dressed In Full Drag For A Role
Photo:  New Line Cinema

John Travolta played voluptuous and bubbly Edna Turnblad in the 2007 musical remake of John Water’s cult film Hairspray. Male actors traditionally fill the role; drag performer Divine starred in the original 1988 film, and Harvey Fierstein took a turn in the 2002 Broadway rendition.

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Robin Williams is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Actors Who Dressed In Full Drag For A Role
Photo:  20th Century Fox

The late, great Robin Williams transformed completely for the 1993 hit Mrs. Doubtfire. Williams's character Daniel puts on a lovely British accent and knee-high socks, all to spend more time with his kids.

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Nathan Lane is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Actors Who Dressed In Full Drag For A Role
Photo:  United Artists

Nathan Lane shines in The Birdcage, the 1996 American adaptation of the French farce La Cage aux Folles. In the film, a drag-club-owning gay couple struggles to appear heterosexual to impress their future daughter-in-law’s conservative family. As a result, Lane's Albert winds up posing as a woman.

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Jack Lemmon is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Actors Who Dressed In Full Drag For A Role
Photo:  United Artists

Some Like It Hot, the 1959 Billy Wilder classic, remains a comedy favorite in part because of the hilarious pairing of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Lemmon's character, Jerry, winds up in an all-female band after fleeing from the mob and inadvertently stumbles into love with a myopic, besotted millionaire.

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