We’ve heard about actors going an extra mile or a whole lunar distance to fit the role of their dreams. But what if their way to stardom requires taking “age is just a number” all too literally?

You see, it turns out that there’s not just one or two actors who have played characters far from their real age. From Gwyneth Paltrow to Amanda Seyfried, some of the cases you see below are truly mind-boggling. Remember Moaning Myrtle from the Harry Potter films? Allegedly, the actress Shirley was 37 years old at the time of filming, which made her the oldest actor to play a teenage student at Hogwarts. If you ask me, I see no reason why defying age shouldn’t count as a magic power.

#1

Thomas Brodie-Sangster Was Actually 14 When He Played A 7-Year-Old Kid In Nanny Mcphee

Thomas Brodie-Sangster Was Actually 14 When He Played A 7-Year-Old Kid In Nanny Mcphee

Universal Pictures Report

Francis
Community Member
1 month ago

he still looks very young for his age..

View More Replies...
View more comments
#2

Laurence Fishburne Was Only 14 When He Played A Soldier In Apocalypse Now

Laurence Fishburne Was Only 14 When He Played A Soldier In Apocalypse Now

United Artists Report

Adam C
Community Member
1 month ago

Haha 14 years old play soldier, 30 years old play high school kid. Only in Hollywood

View More Replies...
View more comments
#3

Shirley Henderson, Who Played Moaning Myrtle In The Harry Potter Films, Was Actually 37 When She Appeared In The Second Film

Shirley Henderson, Who Played Moaning Myrtle In The Harry Potter Films, Was Actually 37 When She Appeared In The Second Film

Warner Bros. Pictures Report

kurisutofu
Community Member
1 month ago

When you know it, you can kind of see it.

View more comments

If you wonder why so many teenage roles are actually played by adult actors, there may be a good reason or two for this. First of all, according to child labor laws, kids can only work for up to a few hours at a time. Meanwhile, movie sets and TV productions will normally spend 10-12 hours a day working on a set.

There is also the issue of schooling that most minors are still required to complete. Plus, minors are more expensive to get insured if their job requires them to do stunts and physical work. Casting slightly older actors may be a workaround for not paying extra costs.

Moreover, the child actor can outgrow the age of their characters as their aging is more noticeable. Think of the ages 13 and 18 and how vast the difference is. And lastly, the great majority of professional actors are twenty and up, so they always already have greater experience and acting skills to compare with teenage and child actors.

#4

Audrey Hepburn 32 In Breakfast At Tiffany’s As 18 Year Old

Audrey Hepburn 32 In Breakfast At Tiffany’s As 18 Year Old

Report

Tabitha L
Community Member
1 month ago

She is perfection personified.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#5

John Franklin, Children Of The Corn. The Role Of The 12-Year-Old Prophet In The Horror Movie Children Of The Corn Became A Debut For John Franklin. By That Time The Actor Had Already Turned 25

John Franklin, Children Of The Corn. The Role Of The 12-Year-Old Prophet In The Horror Movie Children Of The Corn Became A Debut For John Franklin. By That Time The Actor Had Already Turned 25

Report

Janine B.
Community Member
1 month ago

He was 25?! Looking so extremly young must be hard.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#6

Winona Ryder Was 28 When She Played An 18-Year-Old In "Girl, Interrupted" As Susanna Kaysen

Winona Ryder Was 28 When She Played An 18-Year-Old In "Girl, Interrupted" As Susanna Kaysen

Report

Rowlie
Community Member
1 month ago

Love the movie and the book

View more comments

For many child actors who start out at a very early age, the sudden fame and intense work load may be debilitating. Macaulay Culkin, who started acting at the age of 4 and got famous for his role as Kevin McCallister in the Home Alone films, has said multiple times how truly hard it all was.

“It started feeling like a chore. I started vocalizing that and not being heard: I was saying, ‘I wanna go to school—I haven’t done a full year of school since first grade,'” he told Esquire in a recent interview.

Culkin’s lifelong struggle with psychological problems also serves as an example that casting a very young actor for a leading role which requires a lot of responsibility may be, in some way, harmful.

#7

Amanda Seyfried Was 27 When She Played The Teenage Cosette In Les Misérables

Amanda Seyfried Was 27 When She Played The Teenage Cosette In Les Misérables

Universal Pictures Report

Doggi
Community Member
1 month ago

She is very beautiful.

Randy Klefbeck
Community Member
4 weeks ago

And had an awesome voice too.

Load More Replies...
Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
1 month ago

She does look young though.

ravina nimje
Community Member
1 month ago

She looks very beautiful.

ThreeOfAKind
Community Member
1 month ago

And quite young too

Load More Replies...
Charyl Granatella
Community Member
1 month ago

I thought Cosette was much younger. Like, younger than 12.

MadRatter
Community Member
1 month ago

the story spans several years 😊

Load More Replies...
DIsnEYFREAK
Community Member
1 month ago

I HAAAATE it when people do that; make someone "younger" than they are in movies.

Daniel Lewis
Community Member
1 month ago

She looks fine at any age.

Jessica Cole
Community Member
1 month ago

She could totally pass though. Great genes.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#8

Keiko Agena Played A 17-Year-Old Lane In Gilmore Girls While Being 27-Years-Old

Keiko Agena Played A 17-Year-Old Lane In Gilmore Girls While Being 27-Years-Old

Report

Doggi
Community Member
1 month ago

She seems so young in the show tho!

View more comments
#9

Olivia Newton-John - 28 In Grease As Sandy Dumbrowski - 17

Olivia Newton-John - 28 In Grease As Sandy Dumbrowski - 17

Report

WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
1 month ago

there wasn't a teenager in Grease younger than 28 and some of them even looked 40.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#10

Jack Gleeson, 25, As King Joffrey In Got, 17. In The Books He Was Only 13-Years-Old

Jack Gleeson, 25, As King Joffrey In Got, 17. In The Books He Was Only 13-Years-Old

Report

B
Community Member
1 month ago

The most hated character in a TV show ever, IMO. Brilliantly acted though.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#11

Alan Ruck - 30 In Ferris Bueller's Day Off As Cameron Frye - 18

Alan Ruck - 30 In Ferris Bueller's Day Off As Cameron Frye - 18

Report

tuzdayschild
Community Member
1 month ago

He truly looks 17.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#12

Keanu Reeves, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He Played A 17-Year-Old Schoolboy At The Age Of 25 In The Sci-Fi Comedy Of 1989

Keanu Reeves, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He Played A 17-Year-Old Schoolboy At The Age Of 25 In The Sci-Fi Comedy Of 1989

Report

JuJu
Community Member
1 month ago

Let's be honest. We all know Keanu has a hidden picture of him that ages. Or he's a vampire. And one of the loveliest and kindest people in show biz

View More Replies...
View more comments
#13

Sophie Mcshera Plays The Young Kitchen Maid Daisy In "Downton Abbey" While Being 35-Years-Old

Sophie Mcshera Plays The Young Kitchen Maid Daisy In "Downton Abbey" While Being 35-Years-Old

Report

Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
1 month ago

She looks like Elijah Wood.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#14

Michael J. Fox - 29 In Back To The Future As Marty Mcfly - 17

Michael J. Fox - 29 In Back To The Future As Marty Mcfly - 17

Report

Doggi
Community Member
1 month ago

I always thought he looked younger than 17.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#15

Cole Sprouse Is 27 Years Old, But His "Riverdale" Character Jughead Is Meant To Be Just 16

Cole Sprouse Is 27 Years Old, But His "Riverdale" Character Jughead Is Meant To Be Just 16

Report

Kjorn
Community Member
1 month ago

every teenagers are much older in tv. in that 70's show the only one who was actually a realistic age was mila kunis. all the other were past their 20's

View More Replies...
View more comments
#16

Jon Heder - 25, Napoleon Dynamite - 16. He Certainly Knew How To Act Like A Teenager

Jon Heder - 25, Napoleon Dynamite - 16. He Certainly Knew How To Act Like A Teenager

Report

Lia Hamilton
Community Member
1 month ago

I love this movie

View More Replies...
View more comments
#17

Leonardo Dicaprio - 28 In Catch Me If You Can As Frank Abignale Jr. - 16

Leonardo Dicaprio - 28 In Catch Me If You Can As Frank Abignale Jr. - 16

Report

K Witmer
Community Member
1 month ago

Love this movie even better it's a true story

View more comments
#18

Jennifer Grey - 27 In Dirty Dancing As Frances “Baby” Houseman - 17

Jennifer Grey - 27 In Dirty Dancing As Frances “Baby” Houseman - 17

Report

tuzdayschild
Community Member
1 month ago

And we all bought it at the time.

View more comments
#19

Ian Somerhalder Started Playing Damon Salvatore, A Vampire Turned-At-25 When The Actor Was 30-Years-Old And Finished The Show When He Was 38-Years-Old Still Playing A 25-Year-Old

Ian Somerhalder Started Playing Damon Salvatore, A Vampire Turned-At-25 When The Actor Was 30-Years-Old And Finished The Show When He Was 38-Years-Old Still Playing A 25-Year-Old

Report

Mama Panda
Community Member
1 month ago

And he was sexy as hell through the whole show!!!

View More Replies...
View more comments
#20

Kit Harington Was 30-Years-Old While Jon Snow Is Supposed To Be 17. In The Books He Was 14

Kit Harington Was 30-Years-Old While Jon Snow Is Supposed To Be 17. In The Books He Was 14

Report

wandile dludlu
Community Member
1 month ago

Actually didn't feel that disconnected with the character. I think maybe it's because GOT didn't really concentrate on age. The only person we paid attention to was Ayra

View More Replies...
View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#21

Bianca Lawson, Who Played High Schooler Maya, Was 31 When The Pilot For Pretty Little Liars Was Shot

Bianca Lawson, Who Played High Schooler Maya, Was 31 When The Pilot For Pretty Little Liars Was Shot

ABC Family Report

Lia Hamilton
Community Member
1 month ago

I havent watched the show but she looks convincing. And super sweet

View more comments
#22

Rachel Mcadams - 25 In Mean Girls As Regina George - 17

Rachel Mcadams - 25 In Mean Girls As Regina George - 17

Report

Shelp
Community Member
1 month ago

And it's pretty obvious on this picture

View more comments
#23

Paul Wesley, The Vampire Diaries. His Character Stefan Salvatore Was 17, Actor 35

Paul Wesley, The Vampire Diaries. His Character Stefan Salvatore Was 17, Actor 35

Report

Diana Warburton
Community Member
1 month ago

sorry but noone never looked 17 on that show

View More Replies...
View more comments
#24

Stockard Channing Was 33 When She Played High Schooler Rizzo In Grease

Stockard Channing Was 33 When She Played High Schooler Rizzo In Grease

Paramount Pictures Report

Alex K
Community Member
1 month ago

it was kinda obvious

View More Replies...
View more comments
#25

Gabriel Union - 27 In Bring It On As Isis - 17

Gabriel Union - 27 In Bring It On As Isis - 17

Report

Kwj
Community Member
1 month ago

She is sooo beautifull :D love her in that movie

View more comments
#26

Stacey Dash - 29 In Clueless As Dionne “Dee” Davenport - 17

Stacey Dash - 29 In Clueless As Dionne “Dee” Davenport - 17

Report

Doria
Community Member
1 month ago

Clueless - what a gem

View More Replies...
View more comments
#27

Jason Earles Was 29 When He Began Playing Hannah's Teenage Brother, Jackson, On Hannah Montana

Jason Earles Was 29 When He Began Playing Hannah's Teenage Brother, Jackson, On Hannah Montana

Disney Channel Report

Jennifer .S
Community Member
1 month ago

I was gonna say, he played like a 30 year old on Kickin' It but looks the same as he did in Hannah Montana

View More Replies...
View more comments
#28

Emma Thompson Starred As 19-Year-Old Elinor Dashwood In "Sense And Sensibility" When She Was 35

Emma Thompson Starred As 19-Year-Old Elinor Dashwood In "Sense And Sensibility" When She Was 35

Report

Tabitha L
Community Member
1 month ago

And she did it brilliantly. I can't imagine a better Elinor.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#29

Denise Richards, Wild Thingsplaying A 16-Year-Old Schoolgirl, At The Age Of 27

Denise Richards, Wild Thingsplaying A 16-Year-Old Schoolgirl, At The Age Of 27

Report

boredkoala
Community Member
1 month ago

Very glad she wasn't actually 16 in that movie...

View More Replies...
View more comments
#30

Ashleigh Murray Was 28 When She Began Shooting Riverdale As Teenager Josie

Ashleigh Murray Was 28 When She Began Shooting Riverdale As Teenager Josie

The CW Report

Bettye McKee
Community Member
1 month ago

She is beautiful. She looks like a teenager.

View More Replies...
View more comments

Note: this post originally had 42 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

See Also on Bored Panda