30 Times Hollywood Convinced Us That These Actors Were a Completely Different Age

Sun Mar 21 2021

We probably don’t need to tell you that actors go the extra mile to create a believable character. They take method acting to the extreme and truly become one with the person they’re trying to portray. And they leave their own personality and characteristics at the door when they do so. However, it seems as though there are many actors out there who have also had to leave their actual ages behind, as well…

It’s no secret that Hollywood chooses an actor based on their talent and their suitability for the role rather than their age. But sometimes they go so far left-field that the actors are decades older or younger than the character they’re playing on the screen. Do they manage to pull it off? Or does their obvious age difference ruin the whole movie or TV show? We’ll let you decide…

Keira Knightly Was Just 18 Years Old When She Took on the Role of Bride Juliet in Love Actually

When Love Actually was released back in 2003, it instantly became a hit across the world. But thankfully, you don’t have to wait until the festive season to watch the likes of Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, and Liam Neeson work their magic. It’s a feel-good movie all year round and it also gave Keira Knightly the chance to showcase her talent.

In this movie, we watched Keira’s character, Juliet, get married to the love of her life. And while we assumed that she would at least be in her 20s when she got hitched, it might surprise you to learn that Keira was just 18 years old at the time. What makes this even wilder is the fact that she was just five years older than Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who played the adorable drummer kid in the film.

Jack Gleeson Was 25 When He Took on the Despised Character of 17-Year-Old Joffrey in Game of Thrones

By this point, you should have watched at least one episode of Game of Thrones. It’s become a worldwide phenomenon and a show that has entertained both the young and the old. But it’s fair to say that this show has also introduced us to some rather despicable characters that we all loved to hate, including Joffrey Baratheon. This character was played by Jack Gleeson.

But 25-year-old Jack was much older than his character when he took on the role of 17-year-old Joffrey. But it seems as though Joffrey wasn’t meant to be 17 at all, as the showrunners for Game of Thrones actually made Joffrey older in the show. When writing the books, George R.R Martin stated that the oldest Lannister child was actually just 13 years old.

Although Charlotte Was a College Graduate in Lost in Translation, Actress Scarlett Johansson Was Just 18 Years Old

Lost in Translation was Scarlett Johansson’s first real stint in the movie world as a fully-fledged adult. Before then, she had been categorized as a young, up-and-coming teenager who was cast in small roles here and there. She had never really made an impact, but Lost in Translation gave us all the chance to fall in love with her talent.

In this movie, Scarlett played college graduate Charlotte – and while she did convince us with this character, something wasn’t quite right. Scarlett has always looked and seemed extremely mature, but when she took on this role of a 22 or 22-year-old, she was only 18 years old herself. This must have been hard to pull off.

Amy Poehler Was Just 33 Years Old When She Played the “Cool Mom” of a High School Junior in Mean Girls

Let’s be honest; Mean Girls is one of the most quotable movies out there. From “get in loser, we’re going shopping” to “is butter a carb?”, most fans could quote this film for days on end. But it’s fair to say that the success of this movie is also down to the cast. And while they all played their parts perfectly, there were some inaccuracies when it came to the ages of these actors.

For example, we all know that Amy Poehler played a cool mom and not a regular mom, but she was actually only 33 years old when she took on this character. Not only did that mean she was the mom of a high school senior, but she was also the mom of a high school senior who was played by Rachel McAdams. And Rachel was 26 when she played this senior.

Shirley Henderson Was 37 When She Played 14-Year-Old Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter Franchise

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we were introduced to a ghostly character by the name of Moaning Myrtle. Muggle fans around the world learned that she had succumbed to the deathly stare of the Basilisk in 1929 when she was just 14 years old. For the rest of her days, she hung out in the girl’s bathroom and eventually met Harry, Ron, and Hermione. But do you know who played this character?

While the actual students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were played by child actors, the production team decided to go in a different direction with Moaning Myrtle. Although the ghost was technically only 14 years old, they opted to cast Shirley Henderson. This Scottish actress was 37 years old when she took on this role, making her the oldest actor to ever appear as a child in the Harry Potter franchise.

A 14-Year-Old Laurence Fishburne Lied About His Age and Was Cast as a 17-Year-Old Soldier in Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is one of those movies that you can watch over and over again. And with a cast roll call that includes the likes of Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall, we don’t blame a young Laurence Fishburne for doing everything he could to land a role in the movie. In fact, he was just 14 years old when got the all-important call that changed his life.

But Francis Ford Coppola and the casting team didn’t actually know that the boy they’d cast to play the 17-year-old Tyrone Miller was so young. That’s because Laurence lied about his age in order to be considered, but it seems as though his youthful looks worked in his favor. Plus, filming took three years to be completed which meant that Laurence was actually the same age as his character when Apocalypse Now was finally released.

Denise Richards Played 16-Year-Old Schoolgirl Kelly in Wild Things When She Was 27

Model, actress, and Real Housewife Denise Richards has put her name to many projects over the years. But towards the beginning of her acting career, she made waves when she appeared in Wild Things. This neo-noir crime thriller got everyone talking, and it’s fair to say that Denise’s character, Kelly, had everyone up in arms thanks to her beauty and presence on the screen.

This character was portrayed as a young, wealthy, and popular girl who is just 16 years old when the events in the film take place. But the casting team didn’t pick an actual 16-year-old to take on this role. Instead, they chose to go for Denise who was 27 years old at the time. Although this was a big age difference, the character was still believable.

Audrey Hepburn Was 32 When She Played 18-Year-Old Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

When you think of Audrey Hepburn, you might immediately think of the iconic little black dress that she wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. After all, this movie sparked an Audrey Hepburn revolution and proved to the world that she was a legendary actress. To many, Audrey and Holly Golightly are essentially the same people – but there were a couple of differences between them.

In the movie, Holly is actually dubbed to be just 18 years old. And while Audrey certainly didn’t look old on our screens, she also wasn’t the spring chicken she was portrayed to be. In fact, Audrey was 14 years older than her on-screen character, as she was cast in this role when she was 32 years old. She was still iconic, though, right?

A 25-Year-Old Keanu Reeves Transformed Into a 17-Year-Old in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Keanu Reeves is like a fine wine. He’s getting better and better with age, but that’s not to say that his past work hasn’t been just as impressive. He’s put his name to more movies than we could possibly count, but die-hard fans of this actor can’t help but love his role as Ted within the Bill & Ted franchise. You can’t get much better than Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, after all.

In this 1989 movie, Keanu transformed himself into the hilarious character of Ted. We learned that his character was just a 17-year-old teenager, but it’s fair to say that this wasn’t Keanu’s real age. He was 25 years old when he started filming for this movie, which means that he was a fair bit older. We guess this silliness just comes naturally to him.

A 28-Year-Old Winona Ryder Played the 18-Year Old Susanna Kaysen in Girl, Interrupted

Winona Ryder’s talent has made its way into countless movies over the course of her career, but perhaps her most famous role came in the 1999 film, Girl, Interrupted. This intense drama saw the actress become Susanna Kaysen, a troubled teenager who is sent to an institution after a battle with her mental health.

But what you might not have realized is that Winona was a little older than Susanna. A decade older, to be precise. The teenager was portrayed to be an 18-year-old teen just making her way into adulthood, while Winona had already proved to the world that at 28 years old she was a force to be reckoned with.

Riverdale’s 17-Year-Old Jughead Jones Was Played by 28-Year-Old Cole Sprouse

You either love it or hate it, but there’s no doubt about the fact that teen drama Riverdale has made its way onto screens across the globe. Based on the famous Archie comics, this show follows the lives of teenagers in a spooky town as they go about their intense teenager business. But actually, none of the actors who appear within the main cast are teenagers at all.

This is certainly the case for Cole Sprouse, who donned his beanie crown and his laptop to become Jughead Jones in the show. While we see this youngster as a 17-year-old schoolboy, Cole was actually a whole decade older than his character when he started filming. It’s a good thing he’s still got his youthful looks.

Jennifer Grey Was 27 Years Old When She Played 17-Year-Old Baby in Dirty Dancing

When you think of Jennifer Grey, you probably immediately think of Dirty Dancing. It’s the movie that thrust her into the spotlight and it’s the movie that has allowed her to maintain her fame and fortune today. She stole the show when she took on the role of Frances “Baby” Houseman in 1987, and her romance with Patrick Swayze left us all swooning.  

But when you think about it, Jennifer’s character had a lot going on considering she was just 17 years old. “Baby” looked and seemed a lot older than the baby she really was, and that might have something to do with the fact that Jennifer Grey was actually 27 years old when she put on her dancing shoes and had the time of her life.

Paul Wesley Was 35 When He Was Cast To Play 17-Year-Old Stefan Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries may not be on our screens anymore, but that’s not to say that its eight-year run has been forgotten. This show wowed viewers with its storylines, the vampiric nature, and the cast that got involved over the many seasons. One cast member that left fans drooling was Paul Wesley, who took on the role of Stefan Salvatore.

As we learned more about this character, we were told that Stefan was just 17 years old. But with his big muscles and his tattoos, there were many fans who questioned this. And they were right to do so because Paul Wesley was nowhere near to the age of his character when he starred on the show. Instead, he was 35 years old.

Gabrielle Union-Wage Played a 17-Year-Old Cheerleader in Bring It On When She Was 27

Bring It On brought cheer to even the most miserable of movie watchers, as this teen cheerleading film featured sassy chants, epic romances, and an all-star cast. While Kirsten Dunst certainly led the way, Gabrielle Union-Wade also won fans over with her on-screen presence. For this role, she stepped into the shoes of Clovers cheerleader, Isis, who was just 17 years old.

However, Gabrielle didn’t take on this role as a teenager herself. In fact, she was almost 30 years old when she donned her uniform and cheered for her school. But it seems as though this age difference didn’t really matter, as she managed to convince us that she was the young and youthful cheerleader we saw on her screen.

Stacey Dash Was Cast in Clueless as 17-Year-Old Dionne When She Was 29

Whether you fell in love with the revolving closet or whether you can’t stop singing “rolling with the homies,” there’s no doubt about the fact that Clueless has gone down in history as one of the best movies ever made. And while Alicia Silverstone was 18 when she played 17-year-old Cher Horowitz, her co-star was a little older than her.

That’s because Stacey Dash was actually 29 when she played Cher’s 17-year-old bestie. And despite this age gap, she still fooled us into thinking that they were both the teenagers we saw on our screens. They were the coolest teens we’d ever set eyes on, and we still think so today, over 25 years after the movie was released.

When Jason Earles Was 29 When He Took on the Role of Teenager Jackson in Hannah Montana

When you watched Hannah Montana when you were younger, you were probably too obsessed with the songs and the wigs involved to take notice of the actual actors and their ages. This is why it may surprise you to learn that Miley’s older brother on the show, Jackson, was actually a whole lot older. And we’re not talking about a few measly years.

Although Jason Earles looked like just a young teenager when he took on this role, he was actually nearly 30 years old. He had just passed his 29th birthday when he was offered the chance to appear on the show, and as it progressed he was well into his third decade. In fact, he was 33 when his time on the show finally came to an end – and Jackson was still a teenager.

Joe Keery Was 24 When He Bagged the Role of 18-Year-Old Steve Harrington in Stranger Things

As one of the oldest characters within the Stranger Things universe, it was clear to see that Steve Harrington took his older brother duties seriously. He looked after the younger teens of Hawkins, and while we didn’t get to learn his actual age, it’s believed that this character was around 18 years old when he first made his appearance. And Joe Keery got the chance to take on this epic role.

It seems as though Joe really was the big brother on the set of this sci-fi show, though. Although he managed to get away with playing a teenage stud from the 1980s, he was actually much older when he started filming for the program. He was 24 years old when he was offered the role, which means that he had to act much younger than he actually was.

Emma Thompson Was 35 When She Was Cast as 19-Year-Old Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility

Emma Thompson has been in more movies than we can count, which is why it’s easy to forget that she took on a leading role in the 1995 movie, Sense and Sensibility. For this role, she worked alongside the likes of Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, and Hugh Grant, and she played the young and innocent Elinor Dashwood. This character was portrayed as a 19-year-old teenager.

But if you’re up to date with Emma Thompson’s birthday, you might know that Emma herself was not a teenager when he transformed into this character. Although she managed to pull off this role perfectly, she was actually a lot older than the on-screen woman we all watched. That’s because she was actually 35 at the time.

In Se7en, a 22-Year-Old Gwyneth Paltrow Took on the Role of Brad Pitt’s 32-Year-Old Wife

While Gwyneth Paltrow is now focusing on other projects alongside her acting career, some of her earliest roles are still in many people’s minds. And in 1995 this leading lady appeared alongside the likes of Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in Se7en. In fact, her character, Tracy Mills, was married to Brad Pitt’s character.

And while it must have been pretty thrilling to appear alongside such big names in a movie that has since gone down in history, there was a pretty big age gap involved. What’s more is that we didn’t even realize it at the time. That’s because for this movie, Charlotte was a 32-year-old wife. In reality, though, Gwyneth was just 22 years old herself.

Ross Butler Played High Schooler Zach in 13 Reasons Why When He Was 27 Years Old

Teen dramas always build up a fan following across the globe, but one thing they’re notorious for is casting much older actors on their show. The characters are all meant to be young teens, but the reality for shows like 13 Reasons Why is that they’re actually not teenagers at all. And this was certainly the case for the actor Ross Butler.

In this show, Ross plays the high schooler of Zach Dempsey – so that gives you an idea as to how old, or young, he really is. While the casting team could have hired actual teenagers to play these parts, they instead went for actors like Zach who was 27 in 2017 when the show first debuted onto our screens. Now, he’s still in his 30s playing teenage characters.

Orlando Bloom Was 26 Years Old When He Was Cast To Play 18-Year-Old Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise saw some of the biggest names in Hollywood make their way to the high seas and stake their claim as pirates. And it’s safe to say that Orlando Bloom won everyone over when he played the handsome and young Will Turner. But you might not have realized how young this character was actually meant to be.

The original story states that Will is actually only 18 years old. We know that this teenager struggles with his age and his place in the world, but we have a feeling that Orlando Bloom probably struggled even more on the set of this movie. That’s because he was actually 26 at the time of filming, meaning he was eight years older than his on-screen character.

Daenerys Targaryen Was a 16-Year-Old in Game of Thrones, but Emilia Clarke Was 28 When She Took on This Role

While Game of Thrones was full of incredible characters who all made their mark on the Seven Kingdoms, there was something about Daenerys Targaryen that stood out from the crowd. She was strong, she was independent, and she was the Mother of Dragons – and that automatically made her awesome. But did you know that, in the show, she was supposed to be 16 years old?

Of course, a 16-year-old actress wasn’t cast for this role, even though the character was meant to be that young. Instead, Emilia Clarke stepped into the strong shoes of Daenerys, and it was clear to see that this 28-year-old wasn’t the teenager she was supposed to be. But what’s even more bamboozling is the fact that Daenerys is just 13 in the books.

Jennifer Lawrence Was Just 21 Years Old When She Was Cast To Play Widow Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook

Although many people know Jennifer Lawrence for her role in The Hunger Games franchise, Silver Linings Playbook was actually released the same year as the first Hunger Games movie. This film saw her become Tiffany, a young widow grieving the loss of her late husband. And while we knew that Tiffany was meant to be young, Jennifer Lawrence was much younger than we anticipated.

She was just 21 years old when she was cast in this role, and it’s fair to say that she had a lot of convincing to do during her audition. According to reporters, David O. Russel originally thought that she was too young to take on this character. He wanted someone older, but when she absolutely nailed the audition he began to reconsider.

A 28-Year-Old Linda Hamilton Became the 19-Year-Old Sarah Connor in The Terminator

While everyone would agree that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the real star of The Terminator franchise, Linda Hamilton also deserves a shout-out. This leading lady transformed these movies into something special, and in the first Terminator movie, we learn that she is just 19 years old. But surprise surprise, a 19-year-old wasn’t cast in this role.

Although Linda very successfully transformed herself into Sarah Connor, there was a big age difference between the age of the character and her real age. Linda was 28 years old at the time, which meant that she had to play a character who was nine years younger than she was. We think she managed to pull it off, though.

Milo Ventimiglia Was Cast as the Gilmore Girls High School Dropout Jess Mariano When He Was 24 Years Old

Gilmore Girls is a cult classic that you can just watch time and time again. We watched the town of Stars Hollow grow up before our very eyes, and we also watched Rory’s ever-changing relationships play out on our screens – including her turbulent relationship with Jess Mariano. This high school dropout was played by actor Milo Ventimiglia, and it’s fair to say that his character made him a star.

While we don’t know the exact age of Jess, we do know that he was around the same age as Rory on the show – so around 15 or 16 years old. While Alexis Bledel was a few years older than her character Rory, Milo was much older than his character. In fact, he was 24 when he first got the call saying that he’d bagged the job.

Jesse Metcalfe Played High Schooler John Tucker in John Tucker Must Die When He Was 28 Years Old

If you’ve ever had a boyfriend cheat on you, watching John Tucker Must Die is the best therapy you could ever receive. Featuring Jesse Metcalfe in the driver’s seat as John Tucker himself, he proved to fans everywhere that he could transform himself into a truly unlikeable character.

But when you think about this 2006 movie, the whole film seems much older than it is in terms of the characters and the storyline. That might have something to do with the fact that most of the actors in this film weren’t teenagers themselves. In fact, Jesse Metcalfe was 28 when he played this high school hunk.

In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the 18-Year-Old Character of Cameron Frye Was Played by 30-Year-Old Alan Ruck

You probably don’t need us to tell you that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of the most legendary movies out there. It’s one of those films that gets better and better the more you watch it, and much of that is all down to the all-star cast. One actor who got the chance to appear in this movie was Alan Ruck.

While Alan convinced us all that he was a silly 18-year-old by the name of Cameron Frye in this movie, it seems as though Alan had to work hard to portray this youthfulness. That’s because he was actually 30 years old when he took on this role, which made him a lot older than his on-school character. He certainly convinced us, though.

Leonardo Dicaprio Played 16-Year-Old Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can When He Was 28

Although his Oscar wins don’t reflect how amazing he is, Leonardo DiCaprio is widely regarded as one of the best actors out there. And while you could probably name ten different movies that featured Leo in the leading role, many people often forget that he was in Catch Me If You Can. This movie saw him become Frank Abagnale, a real-life con-artist who stole millions for six years before he was caught.

Yes, this movie begins when Frank is just 16 years old, and Leo managed to pull this off even though he was 28 years old at the time. Despite the fact that he was 12 years older than the character he was playing, he managed to win us over with his youthful looks and his charming smile. We guess that’s why he made such a good con artist.

Gabourey Sidibe Was 26 When She Took on the Lead Role of 16-Year-Old Precious

Over the course of her career, Gabourey Sibide has put her name to many projects. We’ve seen her in the likes of American Horror Story and Empire, but most people know her for taking on the lead role in the 2009 movie, Precious. This epic project thrust her into the limelight as she became the 16-year-old schoolgirl, and many believed that she was just as young in real life.

But it turns out that this wasn’t the case at all. Gabourey was actually a whole decade older than the character on the screen, as she was 26 when the movie started filming. However, that hasn’t stopped fans from watching it over and over again, so we guess this age gap isn’t too much of an issue.

Nicola Coughlan Was 33 When She Became Bridgerton’s 17-Year-Old Penelope Featherington

Irish actress Nicola Coughlin had already made her mark in the UK when she was cast as Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton. But it’s fair to say that this role thrust her into the international limelight and made her a household name. She debuted in Bridgerton with her big hair and fancy rocks, and we all believed that she was just a strong-willed 17-year-old.

But it seems as though Nicola had us all fooled. While Penelope convinced us all that she was getting closer and closer to high society and getting ready to welcome her suitors, Nicola was much older in real life. She was 33 years old when she started filming this show, which makes her a whopping 16 years older than her on-screen character.