Amanda Bynes may be a self-described "girly girl," but in her latest film "She's the Man," the actress dons a short wig, sideburns and lots of attitude to play a boy.
In the modern take on Shakespeare's gender-bending comedy "Twelfth Night," Bynes stars as Viola, a tomboy who prefers kicking a soccer ball to attending the debutante ball. When her soccer team is cut, she disguises herself as her missing brother Sebastian to join the boys' team at his prep school.
Bynes found physically transforming into a boy challenging since it involved over two hours of makeup and wearing bulky padding each day for 45 days. Despite these difficulties, the masquerade was so convincing, at first many people didn't recognize the star and ignored her.
"I remember people saying that they brought cousins or people to the set and they had no idea that was me," says Bynes, 19. "So, that was really cool. I was proud that we fooled people."
The actress also had to adjust her body movements to appear more masculine, relaxing her posture and redistributing her weight while running on the soccer field. At the same time, director Andy Fickman still wanted to make Viola sensitive enough to be a credible object of affection for the recently heartbroken Olivia (Laura Ramsey), the most popular girl in school.
"I always wanted the scenes with Olivia to be romantic because for me to buy it as an audience member, I have to buy Olivia is falling in love with this guy," explains Fickman. "Some of those initial scenes were just not in Amanda's will -- how to look at an actress and make doe-y eyes. That was probably the stuff just emotionally for Amanda that was all about digging in a little bit. The more she was able to do it, the easier it was for Laura."
Bynes had to add yet another layer to her performance when the cross-dressing Viola falls for her roommate Duke Orsino (Channing Tatum), who has no idea that his buddy "Sebastian" has such amorous feelings. Frankly, Duke doesn't quite know what to make of his roomie, who occasionally shows remarkable insight into the female mind, carries feminine hygiene products for nosebleeds and talks street lingo with an ever-changing accent.
"I didn't really do it as an accent," says Bynes, "but everybody was like, 'Omigod, are you doing like Elvis or are you from Texas?' No, I created a voice and a sort of attitude. I kind of wanted [my character] to be hip and you know, like a gangsta. It became this weird, whacked out voice."
In the end, despite her brief foray into masculinity, the girly girl has no new insights into the male mind.
"I really don't. I had fun doing it, but I wasn't really hanging out with guys in their rooms for real," she admits. "I was an actor and in between takes I wasn't like, 'Tell me, what's it like to be a man?' I'm just doing what was written."
"She's the Man" swaggers into theaters nationwide on Friday, March 17.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun