Older Actors Portraying Young Characters

Older Actors Portraying Young Characters

We’ve all seen those movies or TV shows about high school and can’t help but think, How realistic is that? However, the events in these movies or shows may not the be only things that are unrealistic.


It seems to be a common phenomena in film making that actors playing teenagers are much older than the parts they are playing.


Here are some examples of adults playing teenagers much younger than themselves:


Taylor Kitsch was 28 years old when he played a high-school football player on Friday Night Lights.



Rachel McAdams was a 27-year-old playing a high-schooler in Mean Girls.



Charisma Carpenter was 27 years old when she began playing a 16-year-old on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.




Stacey Dash was 29 when she played a 16-year-old in Clueless.



Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Catch Me If You Can was 16 years old, while DiCaprio played him at the age of 28.



Daisy Fay in The Great Gatsby was supposed a 17 years old, portrayed by the 28 year old Carey Mulligan. DiCaprio was 38, playing a 27 year old Jay Gatsby.



Alan Ruck was 30 when he played s16-year-old Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.



Keiko Agena was playing a high-schooler at the age of 30 on Gilmore Girls.



Stockard Channing was 34 when she played the iconic role of Frenchy, an 18-year-old beauty school dropout in Grease.



Troian Bellisario was 29 when playing 18-year-old Spencer Hastings on Pretty Little Liars.



Jennifer Grey was 27 when she played the role of Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman in Dirty Dancing.



Lucy Hale was 24 years old playing an 18 year old on Pretty Little Liars.



Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke, 28, plays 16-year-old Daenerys Targaryen.



But what problems arise from actors playing characters younger than their actual age?


For one thing, it leads to children having incredibly unrealistic standards of what they should look like at a given age. With almost every actor playing parts younger than themselves, the image of a teenager is distorted into something completely different.


As a result, teens begin comparing themselves to a so-called sixteen-year-old and find themselves wondering why they don’t look like that.


Also, it can take away from the movies or shows themselves.


For example, in the popular Hunger Games series, Jennifer Lawrence was 21 when she was playing a 16-year-old. The entire premise of the movie is that innocent, young children are pitted against each other and forced to kill each other.


However, the shock and impact of this idea is greatly lessened when the should-be pudgy-faced sixteen-year-old has the mature appearance of someone who can legally drink.


Although producers obviously can’t get actors who are exactly the age of their parts, a decade of age difference is a big gap.


Age difference between actors and their roles is a phenomenon that has become so common that no one even thinks twice. However, it has a much bigger impact than many people care to consider.