Social Question

janmaru's avatar

Can male actors play little girls?

Asked by janmaru (32points) September 2nd, 2010

For instance, Robert de Niro. He went on an eating tour in the south of France to gain 60-pounds for “Raging Bull” (1980) and wearing custom-made silk underwear in order to be like Al Capone in “The Untouchables” (1987). Because of such close attention paid to small details, he’s considered one of the hardest working actors in the multiverse. But what if he had to play the part of a little girl?

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13 Answers

Ben_Dover's avatar

He would have to be an incredibly fabulous actor to play a little girl. Now maybe Mickey Rooney or Michael Jackson might have gotten away with it when they were young. And Macaulay Culkin….

chyna's avatar

Why not just get a girl?

MissA's avatar

He can alter his weight…but, what about height and other physical attributes?

muppetish's avatar

I doubt he would be able to pull it off. However, it is not unprecedented for a young boy to portray a young girl. In Shakespeare’s day, all the female roles were played by boys (and young men.) There are still several Shakespearean companies that are all-male (and more than a few operated by all women) and it’s quite extraordinary how successful they are at disappearing into the roles.

MissA's avatar

@muppetish Yes, you make good points. My unexpressed thoughts as well.


A lot of young boys look and sound like little girls, so I’m sure they can.

Look at Justin Bieber. He sounds and looks like a girl, yet he’s idolized by many fans for his singing.

MacCaulay Culkin looked very delicate when he was a young boy. He could have played almost any little girl role.

janmaru's avatar

My point is if society is ready for such a portrait. Will moralists say: oh, but he has got shaved legs? And how he would do to impersonate the character? To me it’s all about the power of imagination. When does your brain switch from Robert de Niro to the little girl? So many times, even with 3D, I’ve found myself saying: damn, it’s just a blank screen.

Ben_Dover's avatar


Great minds think alike! I said MacCaulay Culkin too!


@Ben_Dover Even today, MacCaulay sort of comes across rather girlish looking. Lol.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES He was a tremendous supporter of Michael Jackson, too…another guy who could have played a little girl…

tiny_dancer's avatar

Not convincingly unless they are naturally petite and feminine.

The thought of it is really quite hard to comprehend.

iphigeneia's avatar

I bet he could do some fantastic voice acting. But no matter how well he studies and trains, there are some roles that de Niro will be unable to play convincingly.

Though I know of a case where an adult woman had to play a young boy on the stage after none of the understudies could make it, and many actors have proven themselves versatile enough to perform as different ages and genders, there is only so far you can go without losing the sense of realism. (If pure realism is not the aim, then hey the world just got a whole lot bigger.)

downtide's avatar

As already pointed out, in Shakesperean times (and before, as far back as Ancient Greece) all actors were men and they would play the female roles as well.

British pantomime has a tradition that all the handsome young men are played by women, and all the ugly old women are played by men. It’s far easier for a man to play an ugly old woman than it is to play a pretty girl.

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