-Michael Dorsey(Dusitn Hoffman) is a respected but perfectionist actor who is on the verge of turning 40. Nobody in New York wants to hire him because he is difficult to work with. According to his agent George Fields(Sidney Pollack), Michael's attention to detail and reputation got him fired. After 4 months, he hears of an opening on a sopa opera from his friend Sandy Lester(Terri Garr). Desperate to get it, he dresses as a woman named Dorothy Michaels and wins the part
-He takes the job to raise $800 to make his friend Jeff's play, Return to Love Canal. During this time, he begins an act of balancing the cross dress abd hiding it from Sandy. When she catches Michael half dressed in her clothes, he covers up by showing a desire for acting and they sleep together. He believes Sandy is too emotionalls fragile to handle the truth about Dorothy.
-One of his co-stars, Julie Nichols(Jessica Lange) is a single mom with bad relationship with the show's director Ron Carlisle(Dabney Coleman). At a party, Michael approaches Julie with a line she had previously told Dorothy. Yet she makes advances toward Dorothy telling her she likes her not in a romantic way.
-She ahd her own admirers: John Van Horn(George Gaynes), Julie's father Les(Charles Durning). Michael finds a clever way to extricate himself. When the cast if forced to perform the show live, he improvises and reveals he is the character's twin brother. This allows him to get everyone a way out.
- Dustin Hoffman as Michael Dorsey / Dorothy Michaels
- Jessica Lange as Julie Nichols
- Teri Garr as Sandy Lester
- Dabney Coleman as Ron Carlisle
- Charles Durning as Leslie "Les" Nichols
- Bill Murray as Jeff Slater
- Sydney Pollack as George Fields
- George Gaynes as John Van Horn
- Geena Davis as April Page
- Doris Belack as Rita Marshall
- Lynne Thigpen as Jo
- Estelle Getty as Middle Aged Woman