What is the deal with manly man stars from last summer's nitty-gritty The Patriot now trying on ladies' stockings? First, this past holiday season, Mel Gibson pulled on thigh-highs for the comedy What Women Want. Now, in Sweet November (opening Friday), Jason Isaacs — who portrayed Patriot baddie Colonel Tavington — kicks it up a notch by appearing in full drag.

"Everything Mel's doing, I'm doing a pale shadow of," Isaacs tells TV Guide Online, adding that his Sweet November castmate, Charlize Theron, offered up no beauty advice for his distaff depiction. "I think that if I had gotten makeup tips from her, I wouldn't have looked like such a hag. 'Stay a man,' I think is what she might have said!"

Whereas Isaacs's Sweet November personality is bound to have audiences grinning in shocked disbelief (the very reaction he elicited on-screen from Theron's co-star, Keanu Reeves), the actor says that that would be quite a change from what he heard when he sneaked into a press screening of The Patriot.

"These journalists around me were going, 'What an asshole! What a jerk! Kill that f-----, rip his head off!'" Isaacs recalls. "It took me a bit by surprise. I didn't know how to deal with it. But by the end of the film, I figured it was because I had done my job properly, so it was all right."

Isaacs's next projects promise to be just as varied. With Potluck (an improvised drug comedy) and Windtalkers (a John Woo action piece starring Nicolas Cage) already in the can, he is next off to Venice to appear in director Mike Figgis's latest, as-of-yet untitled offering, one that will employ a split-screen format similar to 2000's Time Code. Then, Isaacs will co-star in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down, a true story about American soldiers involved in the Somalian Civil War.

"It's fun to play the bad guy. It's fun to play the king, as Mel Brooks has said," he offers. "But it's also nice to do small, character-driven pieces. Variety is what's fun for me. I love Chinese food, but if I had it every night, I'd puke."