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An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance (also actress; see below). The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern mediums such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of their role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art.
Formerly, in ancient Greece and Rome, the medieval world, and the time of William Shakespeare, only men could become actors, and women's roles were generally played by men or boys. After the English Restoration of 1660, women began to appear on stage in England. In modern times, particularly in pantomime and some operas, women occasionally play the roles of boys or young men.