Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Changing Places

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Changing Places

Article excerpt

Byline: By Robin Walker

Desperate housewife Felicity Huffman, star of new film Transamerica, tells Robin Walker about life as a man wanting to be a woman.

Best known as one of the Desperate Housewives, actress Felicity Huffman is set to wow audiences with her Oscar-nominated portrayal of a trans-gender man.

In Transamerica, the 43-year-old mother-of-two plays the self-obsessed Bree, a man about to undergo the final sex change operation to become a woman. As if that isn't enough to deal with, he also has to get to know a son he didn't know he had.

It's a big shift from Lynette on Desperate Housewives and required a lot of preparation, starting with the voice, Felicity said..

"What does her voice express? It expresses discomfort, loneliness and self-consciousness so we kind of worked backwards. That's what we'd do every day and I'd have to stay in that voice."

To make her voice sound deeper, she had a coach to teach her how to open up her larynx, because women "don't have the chest capacity and our head's not big enough for the resonance. So I worked with trans-gender women on it," she explains, "and I worked with a woman in New York and we approached the voice work in the same way as acting, from the inside out."

With the help of wigs, cheap clothes and base makeup to accentuate her long features, plus learning how to make her hands seem large and ungraceful, Felicity says she gradually found her character.

"That's all we did. The costumes were all cheap catalogue because she wouldn't go clothes shopping. It was all sort of a natural answer once you started investigating."

Getting to know real trans-gender men gave her a lot of sympathy for their plight, she says. "Once I started talking to them, I really understood the heart-wrenching dilemma they're under. It's such a tough choice. Either you feel alienated from yourself or you actually do it and you're alienated from society. …

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