The most essential gift that screen and stage actors have is the ability to play a character other than themselves. It is, in fact, the very basis of their craft. Johnny Depp is an example, being able to play characters as varied as Whitey Bulger to Raul Duke (Hunter S. Thompson). Another example is Javier Bardem, who played the soulless murderer Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. He hated violence, and considered himself a poor fit for the character, but played it anyway out of a desire to work with the Cohen brothers.
One of the most impressive examples of the acting craft can be seen whenever performers take on a role that goes against their own sexual preference. The most famous example is likely Brokeback Mountain, in which straight actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger played gay ranch hands who engaged in a scene that didn't leave much to the imagination. Obviously there was about as much controversy over this entire film as you'd imagine, but two straight guys being able to pull off these roles was something to admire. The opposite of this could be seen throughout nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother, in which gay actor Neil Patrick Harris played the straightest man on television for years; Barney Stinson.
Far more common than men switching teams for roles, is straight women playing lesbian roles. As a guy, it's more fun to talk/write about too. Here are some of the hottest straight actresses who have played gay characters on screen.
12 Maggie Grace
Our list starts off with the daughter from the Taken trilogy. She is also known for her work on Lost, and the first two Twilight movies. Maggie Grace had a lesbian role just a year before the first of that series. Her lesbian role was in The Jane Austen Book Club; a feminist's wet dream with a cast that included veteran actress Kathy Baker, Emily Blunt and a few other semi-noteworthy people. The characters discussed books and their interpretations mirror events in their own lives. The end. There, I saved you an hour and forty five minutes. The best part of the film was Maggie Grace and Parisa Fitz-Henley (her lover Corinne) making out for a few seconds, due to a mix-up, all Academy Awards went to other films in that year.
11 Sarah Shahi
If you're a fan of the CBS crime show Person of Interest and a heterosexual male, you're probably also a big fan of Sarah Shahi. She is gorgeous and has one of the finest bodies on television, partially due to her former occupation as a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys. Before Person of Interest, she was a recurring character on The L Word. If you're not familiar with this show, it may be because similar-themed short videos available for free on the internet are far more appealing than an hour-long Showtime program. Gorgeous Sarah Shahi played Carmen, a character who was all over the place sexually...wait, sorry, that is an accurate description of half the people on that show.
10 Jennifer Connelly
For those who are fans of the film Requiem for a Dream, one of the most devastating and painful films of all time, no, I do not count the final scene of that flick as a lesbian scene for Jennifer Connelly. For hers, we have to go back over two decades, to 1995's Higher Learning. This film was essentially a toned down cross between Crash and American History X that took place on a college campus. A 24-year old Connelly played Taryn, a lesbian student who seduces Kristen, played by Kristy Swanson.
9 Olivia Wilde
Olivia Wilde, one of the most beautiful women in show business today, is no stranger to swinging both ways for roles. Years ago, she played two bisexual characters on House and The OC. More recently, in the 2011 comedy Butter, she played Brooke, a lesbian pole dancer. Last year, on the Bravo show Watch What Happens Live, she was asked if she has ever "dipped into the lady pool in real life" by fiancee (and incredibly lucky dude) Jason Sudeikis. She basically turned into a squealing, giggling child at that point. Who knows what that means.
8 Dianna Agron
If this name is unfamiliar to you, you are probably a guy. She was the hot, small, blond cheerleader on that show Glee that your girlfriend/the girl you stalked used to watch. She did fool around with one of her fellow cheerleaders during her time on that show, but there is a far more awesome lesbian role she took on last year. It was in a film appropriately called Bare. In this movie, Dianna Agron plays a young, innocent girl who gets seduced into a world of hard partying, sex and drugs by a lesbian stripper. Check it, you will not be sorry.
7 Amber Tamblyn
One of her first minor roles was as the first girl to get killed in the 2002 horror flick The Ring. Yep, that unfortunate teenager with the messed up face, dead in the closet was Amber Tamblyn. She would later on become the titular character in Joan of Arcadia, and more recently, she was Charlie Harper's (Charlie Sheen) illegitimate daughter in the last season and a half of Two and Half Men. While those last two seasons were not the show's strongest, Tamblyn played a great character. She was essentially a womanizing boozehound, much like her father, who had been pushed in front of a train after Sheen's "meltdown" in 2010.
6 Amanda Seyfried
You might recognize Amanda Seyfried as Mark Wahlberg's love interest in Ted 2, or as Seth MacFarlane's ex in A Million Ways to Die in the West. You may also know her as the dopey blonde from Mean Girls, which was one of her first roles. Back in 2009, however, she, Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson were the stars of Chloe, with Seyfried playing the titular role. While the details of the film are actually barely worth getting into, a few not-so-innocent scenes between Seyfried and Moore make the movie very watchable.
5 Mischa Barton
The first of the two actresses from The OC on our list, Mischa Barton, has mostly been in the news for a couple of run-ins with the law and some mental problems over the last few years. Before that however, she played a few lesbian roles. She was bisexual on The OC, but really, what woman isn't bi? Let's be honest about this.
In one of her earlier television roles, she played Katie on Once and Again, who was the on/off lesbian love interest of one of the main characters. More recently she starred in You and I, with another lesbian role.
4 Rachel Bilson
The second of the main ladies from The OC, Rachel Bilson was one of the hottest women on television for a few years, then almost completely fell off the radar. One of her more significant roles since The OC was one on How I Met Your Mother. She plated Cindy, a grad student who briefly dated Ted Mosby (the main character) but ended their relationship. She ended up being the roommate of the mother, and ultimately turned out to be a lesbian.
3 Rashida Jones
Model and actress Rashida Jones is probably best known for playing Ann on Parks and Recreation. Most of her other notable roles have been in comedic films and shows, such as Our Idiot Brother; a half decent 2011 comedy featuring, apart from herself, Paul Rudd, Zooey Deschanel, and a few other funny people. It's basically a well-delivered feel-good stoner comedy, with a few hot women. Jones plays Cindy, girlfriend to Zooey Deschanel's Natalie. The two kiss during the film, but clothes stay on, sorry for the spoiler.
2 Megan Fox
There is no poetic or delicate way to say this, but Megan Fox is so attractive that it hurts. But enough of this whiny nonsense, if you're ever looking for the worst comedy-horror flick in the history of cinema, stop your search and watch Jennifer's Body. It's by no means the worst, but it's close, and features Megan Fox as a demonic high school girl who seduces and kills...well...pretty much everything. It's halfway between something a high school boy who sucks at football would write, and a mediocre slasher/supernatural horror flick.
While it is hard to call Megan Fox's character Jennifer, a lesbian (because she was, as previously noted, a seductive demon), she and Anita (Amanda Seyfried) do make out at one point, and it was...just great.
1 Emmanuelle Chriqui
Possibly one of the hottest women to ever come out of the barren wasteland known as Canada, Emmanuelle Chriqui is probably best known for parts in Entourage, You Don't Mess with the Zohan and National Lampoon's Adam and Eve. She also had a part in 2010's Elektra Luxx, a decent comedy if all you want to see is some great looking women. The film revolves around an adult star who starts a sexual instruction business for married women after getting pregnant. Emmanuelle Chriqui has a significant part in it in which she and Adrianne Palicki confess their love for each other and fool around.