105 user 97 critic

Stage Beauty (2004)

R | | Drama | 29 October 2004 (USA)
A female theatre dresser creates a stir and sparks a revolution in seventeenth century London theatre by playing Desdemona in Othello. But what will become of the male actor she once worked for and eventually replaced?



(play), (screenplay)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Stage Manager
Mark Letheren ...
Male Emilia / Dickie
Thomas Betterton
George Villiers II - Duke of Buckingham
Jack Kempton ...
Call Boy
Miss Frayne
Lady Meresvale
Nick Barber ...
Thomas Cockerell


Based in the 1660's of London's theaters, this film is about the rules of gender roles in theatre production, and means to change them for everyone's benefit. Ned Kynaston is the assumedly gay cross-dressing actor who has been playing female parts in plays for years, particularly Desdemona in Othello, he also has a close relationship with a member of the Royal Court, the Duke of Buckingham. One day however, the rules of only men playing women could change when aspiring actress Maria auditions as Kynaston's praised role, Desdemona, and soon enough, King Charles II decides to make the law that all female roles should be played only by women. Maria becomes a star, while Ned finds himself out of work. But after a while, Ned finds it in his nature to forgive Maria's aspiration, they may even fall in love, and Charles may proclaim women will be played by either gender. Written by Jackson Booth-Millard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She was the first of her kind. He was the last of his.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content and language | See all certifications »



| |


Release Date:

29 October 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Belleza prohibida  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£128,035 (UK) (3 September 2004)


$776,691 (USA) (26 November 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Kate Winslet was originally offered the female lead but she pulled out shortly before filming started. See more »


The "naturalistic" acting, as Ned and Maria perform in the later part of the movie, wasn't done until the 19th century. The "series of poses" acting done in the early scenes was the norm for some time after the film is set. See more »


Ned Kynaston: Why does one act?
Maria: When you act, you are seen.
See more »


Referenced in The Daily Show: Billy Crudup (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Screen Beauty
27 April 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Billy Crudup is an actor I follow with feverish anticipation. I saw him for the first time on Broadway, about 10 years ago, in a Stoppard play. It was love at first sight. A sensual, magnetic, beautiful man. "Jesus Son" "Waking the Dead" and "Almost Famous" confirmed my initial impression. Here we have an actor for the ages. A unique, monumental talent. "Stage Beauty" however, gives me pause. Billy is entrusted with a bigger than life role and he comes out of it with a half cooked, self conscious, affected performance. He underlines every other line with a semi smile, a slight pressure of the mouth as if he didn't trust the power of his own delivery. It could be treated as a character trait if you've never seen Billy Crudup before but that tic belongs to the actor not to the character. I'm, of course, being a bit anal retentive. At his weakest, Billy is stronger than most but my expectations are so high that something like that would throw me out of my involvement with his character. The film as a whole is lovely and fun. The one most effective element is Rupert Everett's performance as Charles II, his best - an that is saying a lot - in many, many moons. Comparasions with "Shakespeare in Love" are unavoidable but totally misguiding. See it for what it is and you'll enjoy it thoroughly.

39 of 61 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
'That new ending' hazeleyes422
So....do you think Ned loves Maria in the movie? instyleprincess
One liner that made me have a laughing fit rdswords
The breast is NOT the disturbing part! Mumiemonstret
Crudup is a knockout!!!!!Best Actor Nod for sure lrpulini
problem with the death scene rsh437
Discuss Stage Beauty (2004) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: