The movie industry has been casting adults to play teenagers for decades. Movie magic can hide a lot. Read on to find out which famous actors all played characters well under their real-life age in some of the most popular TV shows and movies ever made.
Alan Ruck In Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a classic teen comedy about a teenager who convinces his friends to skip school with him for a day.
One of those friends is Cam, who was played by then-30-year-old Alan Ruck.
Stockard Channing In Grease
Olivia Newton-John was a decade older than her character in Grease, but one actress was even older.
Shockingly, Stockard Channing was 34 years old when she played high schooler Rizzo in the film.
Every Spider-Man Ever
Many actors have been cast to play Peter Parker in Spider-Man movies in the past.
Tom Holland was the closest to the right age when he was cast as a 15-year-old version of the character at 20. Andrew Garfield was 28-years-old and Tobey Maquire was 27.
Stacey Dash In Clueless
In Clueless, a then 29-year-old Stacey Dash played 17-year-old Dion. The character proved so popular she returned for the television continuation.
Dash still acts today and even made fun of herself in Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens.
Leonardo DiCaprio As Frank Abagnale Jr.
At 27 years old, Leonardo DiCaprio was cast to play 16-year-old Frank Abagnale Jr. in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can. The true story followed a teenager who posed as an adult to earn millions of dollars.
To unpack this whole scenario, DiCaprio was in his late twenties, playing a teenager who was pretending to be in his late twenties.
Taylor Kitsch As Tim Riggins
Friday Night Lights wasn't a show about Tim Riggins, but he became the face of the franchise. Kitsch was 27 years old when he was cast as the 16-year-old high school fullback.
The fact that everyone was obsessed with Kitsch and his bad-boy good looks makes this casting just a little bit creepy.
Tom Welling As Clark Kent In Smallville
For anyone who was in high school or middle school during the aughts, Tom Welling was the definitive Clark Kent. Welling was built like a hero playing Superman before he got his cape in Smallville.
When the show debuted, the character of Clark Kent was a high school freshman. Welling, however, was 24 years old and 6"3.
Emily Kinney In The Walking Dead
Season two of The Walking Dead introduced Emily Kinney as Beth, daughter of Hershel Greene and sister to Maggie.
Kinney was 26 years old at the time she was cast, and her character was 16. We were shocked when we found out how old Kinney really was!
Gabrielle Carteris In Beverly Hills 90210
Just about every actor in Beverly Hills 90210 was well beyond their characters' ages when they were cast as high schoolers.
The biggest offender by far was Gabrielle Carteris, who played school newspaper editor Andrea. Her character was 17 in the show, while she was 29 in real life.
Henry Winkler In Happy Days
In Happy Days, Henry Winkler became a cultural icon playing high school dropout Arthur Fonzarelli. The too cool for school teenager was hilarious, and no one realized Winkler was 29 years old at the time.
When the show ended after ten years, Winkler was almost 40, and the Fonz was just leaving his teen days behind!
Emma Thompson As Elinor Dashwood
In 1995, Emma Thompson won an Oscar for the screenplay of Sense and Sensibility.
She also acts in the film, playing 19-year-old Elinor Dashwood. Thompson was 35 years old at the time.
Charisma Carpenter In Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was huge hit when it premiered on television in 1997. One of the standout actresses on the show was Charisma Carpenter, who played 16-year-old Cordelia Chase.
Carpenter was 27 years old at the time.
Barbara Streisand In Yentl
When Barbara Streisand originally decided she wanted to turn Yentl into a movie, she would have already been about ten years too old to pull it off.
When she finally made the movie after another decade of waiting, she was 41 years old, while her character was in her teens.
Felicity Jones In Breathe In
Before she made a living as a big-budget movie star, Felicity Jones was in the indie drama Breathe In, where she played an 18-year-old foreign exchange student in New York.
Jones was 30 years old when the film was made.
Shirley Henderson As Moaning Myrtle
One of the most memorable characters from the Harry Potter franchise is Moaning Myrtle. Myrtle was 14 years old when the basilisk took her life.
In The Chamber of Secrets, she was brilliantly played by 36-year-old Shirley Henderson.
Michael J. Fox In Back To The Future
Michael J. Fox was 24 years old when he first played Marty McFly in Back to the Future. The age discrepancy wasn't so bad at first, but the franchise has three movies that all take place months apart.
The movies, however, were not released months apart. That means that when Back to the Future; Part III came out, Fox was 29 years old and still playing a teenager!
Jason Earles In Hannah Montana
For the most part, Disney Channel has always done a better job than most casting teenagers in teenage roles.
They threw their rulebook out the window when casting 29-year-old Jason Earle as Miley Cyrus' teenage brother in Hannah Montana.
Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper
Jim Parsons of the highly popular show The Big Bang Theory played someone who is seven years younger than he is.
Parsons has won several Emmys for this role as Sheldon.
Paul Wesley in Vampire Diaries
When he got the role, Paul Wesley was 12 years older than his Vampire Diaries character.
When the show ended after eight seasons, he was a full two decades older than his character!
Michael B Jordan in Fruitvale Station
Michael B. Jordan gave us one of his most inspiring performances yet when he played the younger Oscar Grant in the touching Fruitvale Station.
In real life, Grant was only 22 years old. Jordan was at least four years older when the movie came out to the public.
Eric Christian In Fired Up!
Teen comedy Fired Up! missed the mark completely when it cast 30-year-old Eric Christian Olsen as a high school football star.
He looks every bit his age in the film while he tries to pass for a teenager hungry for female attention.
Wood Harris In Remember The Titans
Wood Harris achieved critical acclaim in 2000 when Remember The Titans was released.
The actor was 31 years old at the time, and his character was a high school football player.
Rachel McAdams as Regina George
McAdams landed the role when she was a young 25 years old. Her character, mean girl Regina George, was a high school student.
This was the film that helped make McAdams a household name in Hollywood.
Sean Patrick In Save The Last Dance
Save the Last Dance is one of the more memorable teen movies of the early 2000s.
At the time of filming, Stiles was 19, which was an appropriate age for her character. Thomas, on the other hand, was 30.