Stage Beauty is a 2004 backstage drama starring Claire Danes and Billy Crudup as 17th century theater performers. Ned Kynaston (Billy Crudup) enjoys the applause of London society for his portrayal of women. At the time, women were not allowed to perform as actors, so his dresser, Maria (Claire Danes), can only dream of the stage. She secretly begins to act at a local tavern under a false name, where Sir Charles Sedley (Richard Griffiths) sees her and offers his patronage. King Charles II (Rupert Everett) then decides to ban men from playing females onstage, after his mistress Nell Gwynn (Zoe Tapper) charmingly changes his mind on the law. Kynaston's career is ruined, while Maria becomes the star of the stage. The King requests a performance of "Othello" and a nervous Maria pleads for Kynaston's help performing Desdemona, once his signature role. Richard Eyre ("Notes on a Scandal") directs this colorful historical drama.